Updated:ROCHESTER, Washington —
Two dozen neglected animals were in safe hands Wednesday night after a police raid on a suspected puppy mill in Thurston County.
Sheriff’s deputies, animal control officers and veterinarians descended on the rural property near Rochester just after 10 a.m.
Some of the animals were suffering from vision and respiratory problems, matted fur and possibly even Leukemia.
“The matting on one dog is so present that the muscle mass on this dog is almost completely gone,” said Erika Johnson with Thurston County Animal Services.
Officers said they expected to find as many as 40 neglected dogs that were allowed to breed uncontrolled on the property. They found 18 dogs, four cats and two birds, and were told another 13 dogs had recently been given away.
Several of the cats and dogs are pregnant.
“The situation was bad,” Johnson said. “The situation was definitely – we intervened at the right time.”
Sherri Blacklaw, the owner of the animals, didn’t want to speak to KIRO 7 on camera, but said she’d had a series of strokes and could no longer care for the animals.
Still, she may face animal cruelty or neglect charges, and could be prosecuted under the state’s new puppy mill law. It will be up to the courts to decide if she gets any of the animals back.
Editor’s note: We learned about this story because of our contacts in the community, and the Thurston County official featured in the story happens to be related to a KIRO 7 employee.