2/14/14 UPDATE: Kim Alboum with the Humane Society tells 13News Now that the District Attorney's office has decided to return three dogs to the family accused of animal cruelty. The dogs are slated to go back Friday. Alboum says it is highly unusual that animals are returned before trial in an animal cruelty case.


11/27 UPDATE: Gates Co. Sheriff Edward Webb says the animals are being evaluated.

'Once we determine the health of animals we will turn over the facts to the District Attorney,' he said.

Right now, no charges have been filed against the owners. Prosecutors will determine whether to draw warrants. Grand jury indictments would take place in January.

Webb said this is the fourth animal cruelty case in Gates county over the past six months.

'We are being bombarded with calls, everyone wants to get a puppy. It's being handled through the National Humane Society,' he stressed.

Sabrenna Protain, shelter manager at SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina, said there are several dogs that will need to go to a good home.

'The dogs arrived last night at 7 p.m., so we are going through the process of getting everyone vaccinated and checked over. We will be accepting applications for adoptions for these pets immediately; they might not be ready to go home right away, but people can fill out an application.'

Protain said the dogs were kept in poor conditions and there are no medical records for the animals.

'It appears these dogs have not been on leashes, so it will take some training here. The dogs are friendly, but a little shy. They seem well-rounded and should be able to be placed into homes.'

Protain expects that the dogs be ready for adoption within a couple weeks.

GATES COUNTY, NC -- Approximately 40 dogs and more than 75 other animals were rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Gates County, N.C. Tuesday.

Humane Society spokeswoman Kaitlin Sanderson told that local law enforcement became concerned after somebody filed a complaint regarding an emaciated horse.

A variety of small-breed dogs and puppies, including pugs, Boston terriers and border collies, were suffering from lack of basic care, with no access to clean water or food, Sanderson said. HSUS says some dogs were found living outside without proper shelter and others were found living inside a building filled with filth.

Sanderson said more than 75 other animals, including cats, mini ponies, bunnies and chickens were found on the property.

The owner agreed to surrender some of the animals.

The Humane Society, SPCA of Wake County, SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina and the Gates County Sheriff's Office assisted in the rescue and removal of the animals.

'The animals will be held at a temporary shelter until final disposition of the case. Pending the outcome, we along with The SPCA of Wake County will work with placement shelters and rescues in the area to get the animals adopted which could include Norfolk/Hampton Roads area,' Sanderson told

This is the 15th North Carolina puppy mill rescue The HSUS has been involved in since June 2011.

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