Friday morning, 53 puppies were found stuffed into two small sheds on a property in St. Anne, Ill., which is south of Kankakee. Ten of the dogs are pregnant.
The state police and the sheriff's department assisted in the raid on the facility, which is located in a trailer park.
The dogs were rescued after someone tipped off the South Suburban Humane Society. Their investigators checked out the tip, and then called in law enforcement.
Authorities raided the facility after a week-long undercover investigation.
The temperature inside was 40 degrees.
"The conditions these dogs were in was absolutely deplorable. I can't emphasize enough to you, horrific conditions. They all had mites and ticks," Cook Co. Sheriff Tom Dart.
Cook Co. Sheriff Animal Crimes Unit was involved the case, even though it took place in Kankakee Co., because of their expertise in the field.
"Right away, the first dog that was brought out had hair loss," said Emily Klehm, executive director of the South Suburban Human Society. "The worst one had a shattered knee. It had not received any veterinary treatment. So, it healed on its own. So, the dog could not stand. So, it's at the vet hospital, getting that leg amputated."
The dogs were found and brought to the Humane Society, where 15 staff members and volunteers began examining the dogs. giving them baths, and vaccinating them.
They are 'designer' dogs, like yorkies, poodles and pugs, all between seven weeks and 10 years old.
A least two dogs had to go to the hospital.
"At the animal hospital, they have an x-ray, and their eyes need to be looked at, where they may have an ulcer or something within the eye, and they can look in the eye to look for something more extensive that we can't really see," said Annette Jernberg, a veterinary technician.
The target of the investigation is a 59-year-old Joliet woman. She is expected to face felony cruelty charges, according to Cook Co. authorities. Her name is not being released.
The suspect was not at the facility at the time the raid took place, but one of her relatives was: 57-year-old Karen Brownfield. She has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty.
Humane Society investigators have heard about the 59-year-old suspect before this latest raid.
"There is a warrant out for her, and this is not the first time she has been arrested for this. She was arrested in 2000 for the same thing," interim investigator Gina Crose said.
Authorities say the puppies were being sold for $300 to $600 each.
As the investigation moves forward, 15 volunteers and workers continue helping and cleaning each animal.
"We need help taking in these dogs. If people have time to volunteer with us, if they have time, to come down and make a donation, bring something with them, like puppy food, laundry detergent," Klehm said.
Coincidentally, the two Cook County Sheriff's Police investigators who worked on this case were being recognized Friday by the Animal Welfare League for breaking animal cruelty cases throughout Chicagoland.
With the rescued dogs, folks are ready to adopt a new pet.
"I came over here immediately because I love dogs, and I want one," said Patricia Jackson, a Chicago Heights resident. "And if I had one of these little precious things, I would treat it like it should be treated."
Now, the dogs were not up for adoption Friday night for legal and medical reasons, but the Humane Society says they are expected to be ready to adopt in a few weeks. The Society encourages anyone interested in adoption to check its web site at that time.
South Suburban Humane Society
1103 West End Ave.
Chicago Heights, IL 60411