4 min read

Breeder Finally Lets People See Where He Was Keeping His Dogs

After years of running a puppy mill, he had a change of heart.

After nearly four decades of breeding dogs, an elderly man in Macon County, Tennessee, realized he needed to stop. 

In 2016, the breeder reached out to local animal control and Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) for help managing the dogs he still had. Ever since then, ARC has been trying to work with him to finally surrender all the dogs he had left. 

Finally, he agreed.

Tennessee backyard breeder bust
Animal Rescue Corps

This week, rescuers were allowed onto his property to save the 13 dogs living in dilapidated shacks in the man's yard. Their water bowls were frozen over in the low temperatures, and the dogs looked eagerly at rescuers from behind chain-link fences as they arrived to save them.

Dogs rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

“We started working this case over a year ago, but when there aren’t any laws being violated, you have to convince them that what you’re offering is the best for everyone,” Scotlund Haisley, president of ARC, said in a statement provided to The Dodo. “We offered them assistance when they were ready to do the right thing, and now these lucky 13 dogs will finally know what it’s like to be a loved member of a family.”

Tennessee backyard breeding operation
Animal Rescue Corps
Dogs rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

Rescuers are calling the dogs "The Lucky Thirteen." Mostly Chihuahuas and small dogs, they range in age from 7 to 15 years old and all show signs of health issues, from eye and skin infections to rotting teeth and matted fur. 

Dogs rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps
Dog rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

“They’ve been living in a puppy mill for years and years and many serious medical conditions are not expressed externally,” Kim Rezac, director of animal welfare at ARC, said in a statement. “I’m sure we’ll find more medical issues once all of the dogs are thoroughly examined by our veterinarians."

Dog saved from Tennessee backyard breeder kissing rescuer
Animal Rescue Corps
Dog rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

Still, it was clear the man had been trying to do what he could, given his own advancing age, to give the dogs what he thought they needed. All the dogs had recent veterinary records and access to food, water and shelter.

Chihuahua rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps
Dog rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

The Lucky Thirteen are all getting medical exams and warming up in a temporary shelter at ARC while staff finds rescue organizations willing to adopt the dogs out to the homes they deserve. 

Chihuahua rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps

As the dogs snuggle into their new soft bedding at ARC, the future is already looking a bit brighter for them — all thanks to the breeder who finally decided to do the right thing.

Chihuahua rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps
Little dog rescued from Tennessee backyard breeder
Animal Rescue Corps
If you are interested in adopting one of The Lucky Thirteen, follow ARC on Facebook for news about this process. You can help ARC save more animals by making a donation.