GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - A big rig pulled up mid-morning to the Humane Society's headquarters in Gaithersburg. It was filled with animals anxious to start a new life: 55 dogs, along with nine bunnies and three cockatiels made the 16-hour trek.
They were all rescued last month from a suspected puppy mill in Arkansas, where authorities discovered more than puppies. Approximately 180 animals were found living in filth, including dogs, rabbits, birds, and more.
Most of them were sick, malnourished, and in dire need of basic care.
"Some of them have severe dental issues, some of them have some skin issues that they're going to work through, there's some specialty care needed for some eye issues..." explained Sara Varsa, Director of Operations for the Animal Cruelty Rescue and Response team.
The Humane Society is now partnering with several Washington-area groups from Arlington, Alexandria, D.C., and Calvert County; on Tuesday, reps came to pick up the animals to give them temporary shelter and medical care before adopting them out.
"I know that these guys have had a tough life, and we know from this point on, they're going to have a wonderful life with some wonderful families -- it's great to be a part of it," said Abbie Hubbard with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
The animals will be ready for adoption as soon as medical issues are cleared up, but humane officials say the biggest key to their recovery is love - and lots of it.