One of the rescued dogs. (Jason E. Miczek/AP Images for The Human Society)
With help from the Humane Society, deputies were bringing in all of the animals to the county shelter on Thursday. (June 12, 2014/FOX Carolina)
Dean Upchurch and Barbara Upchurch (Source: Rutherford Co. Sheriff's Office)
RUTHERFORDTON, NC (FOX Carolina) -
Rutherford County deputies said a brother and sister have been charged after dozens of dogs were found and then dumped at different locations in early June.
Lt. Leon Godlock with the sheriff's office said they received a tip about the animals and went to investigate earlier this week. Once they obtained a search warrant for the Ferry Road property in Mooresboro on Wednesday, he said most of the animals had been moved to other locations in the county.
With help from the Humane Society, deputies were bringing in all of the animals to the county shelter on Thursday.
Deputies said a brother and sister, Dean Upchurch, 50, and Barbara Upchurch, 45, admitted to owning the more than 50 dogs and face charges.
Dean Upchurch is charged with 41 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Barbara is charged with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of instigating or promoting animal cruelty.
Godlock said the Humane Society of the United States is helping with the efforts, in addition to the Humane Society of Charlotte, and they are paying for the animals' care. He said once the animals are checked out, they will determine what charges the suspect faces.
He said the man accused of running the puppy mill has not yet been arrested as the investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.
According to the Humane Society, more than 50 dogs, including English bulldogs, yorkies, cocker spaniels and shih tzus were some of the breeds rescued.
"These poor dogs have eye infections, ear infections, they were being bred for profit with no regard for their health at all whatsoever," said Kim Alboum, with the Humane Society of the United States.
Some of the dogs' fur was so matted, Jorge Ortega with the Humane Society of Charlotte said they had trouble determining some of the dogs' gender.
The dogs will head to Charlotte to get care and eventually new homes. According to the Humane Society of Charlotte's Facebook page, once they're ready for adoption, the dogs will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The info will be posted on their website when the pups are available at humanecharlotte.org.
People wanting to help the 56 rescued dogs can also donate money and supplies. They've got more info on what is needed and how you can help here.
The HSUS has established a reward program to offer up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator for animal cruelty. Tips can be made by calling 1-877-MILL-TIP or online here.
Copyright 2014 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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