150 Dogs, 80 Puppies Seized From Hawaii Breeders and Handed to Humane Society

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Hawaii News Now

Some 230 dogs and puppies held in temporary foster care should go to the Hawaiian Humane Society, a judged has ruled, in a case against breeders accused of running a filthy puppy mill in violation of animal cruelty laws.

When you see a story like this, the first thing that usually comes to mind—thank you exposé-style TV—may be “animal hoarding,” which ranks among the cruelest symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

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But puppy mills—commercial dog breeding farms designed to churn out animals for profit, often at the expense of living conditions—are far more pervasive. It’s hard to get an accurate read on the full scope of the problem, but the Human Society estimates that “[there] are literally thousands of puppy mills in existence all over the country.” And while laws exist in some states to regulate the number of dogs that can be kept in commercial breeding facilities, breeding animals for profit isn’t itself illegal in the U.S.

In this case, Bradley International—the owners of the alleged puppy mill in Waimanalo, a small community on the island of O’ahu—are accused of basic animal cruelty. Around 150 dogs and 80 puppies were seized in late February, and the agency said they suffered from “mange, malnourishment and matted fur,” according to ABC affiliate KITV.com. Police stumbled on the dogs while investigating a trespassing complaint, after hearing dogs barking relentlessly for over half an hour.

“Those dogs were in really bad shape,” Steve Prieto, a Hawaiian Humane Society Volunteer, told Hawaii News Now after yesterday’s decision. “This is really a great day for people that care about animals.”

The owners still have a shot at retaining the dogs, however: If they post a bond by Thursday morning, they’ll retain rights to the animals until a separate criminal case concludes. But according to their attorney, the bond could increase to millions of dollars.

“We’re ecstatic [about the judge’s decision], and we really hope at this point Bradley International understands and heard what the judge said, and we ask that they do not post a bond for their care and let us finally find homes for these animals,” Keoni Vaughn of the Hawaiian Humane Society told FOX affiliate KHON.

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.