MADISON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Humane Society of the United States and the Madison County Sheriff's Office helped rescue nearly 300 dogs and puppies Thursday (March 3) from a property near Elkins, according to the Humane Society.
After serving a search warrant, the Madison County Sheriff's Office found the animals were being housed in deplorable living conditions and were living in feces and filth without access to clean water and food, the Humane Society said.
The dogs' owner, Joyce Johnson, 67, has surrendered the animals to the sheriff's office and is facing two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, according to the sheriff's office. She was booked and then released on her own recognizance, the sheriff's office said.
The Humane Society, the Saline County Humane Society, the Madison County pet shelter, Animal League of Washington County and Jones Mobile Veterinary Services assisted the sheriff's office with the rescue and removal of the animals.
The animals are being transported to a temporary shelter where they will be examined by a team of veterinarians and receive immediate medical treatment, according to Amanda Gossom with the Humane Society.
"They're living in their own feces, most of them don't really have solid flooring so most have very long nails and when they're living on wired crates you can imagine the type of things their feet are going through," Gossom said. " We've seen several matted dogs and really just neglect and cruelty in the conditions that they're living in."
Five dogs were found dead, according to Gossom.
The Humane Society was made aware of the puppy mill through their national puppy mill tip line that was made back in December.
Jamie Patrick told 5NEWS she was the one who tipped off the Humane Society to the situation on Johnson's property. Patrick said she saw the dogs after Johnson asked her to help maintain her property.
"It was kind of overwhelming. I didn't know how bad it was until I actually started taking care of [the dogs]," Patrick said.
Other neighbors also called authorities to report the puppy mill, according to Patrick.
"The neighbors had said they reported it before to the sheriff's department and nothing had been done," Patrick said.
Arkansas lacks laws regulating commercial dog breeding making it a hotbed for puppy mill operators, according to Jessica Lauginiger, the Humane Society's puppy mills response manager.
"She was selling," Lauginiger said. "There was a website that says she was selling online, and from what we were speaking to her about this morning there's a flea market in Texas she would sell at."
A rescue coordinator with the Humane Society said once the dogs are healthy enough to be adopted they will be sent to rescues across the country that are able to take in dozens of animals at once. If any of the dogs end up in shelters in the Northwest Arkansas and River Valley area she will notify 5NEWS.