October 07, 2009 19:46 ET

PetSmart Charities® Sends Emergency Relief Waggin'® Vehicle to Alleged Puppy Mill in Arkansas

Officials Report More Than 100 Animals in Need of Immediate Help

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - October 7, 2009) - PetSmart Charities has dispatched its Emergency Relief Waggin'® vehicle to the scene of an animal rescue in Johnson County, Arkansas, where more than 100 small-breed dogs, five cats and two guinea pigs are reportedly in need of assistance.

According to rescuers on scene, the dogs were being housed in cramped, filthy cages in trailers throughout the property. Some larger dogs were also reportedly being kept chained on the property with no protection from the elements. The cats and guinea pigs were also being kept in small cages. Responders stated that many of the dogs were emaciated and suffering from skin and eye infections as well as other medical ailments. It is likely that many of these animals had never known life outside their cramped enclosures.

The Emergency Relief Waggin' vehicle is stocked with $60,000 worth of crucial supplies, including dog food, wire crates, plastic carriers, bowls and leashes. The vehicle is also stocked with items such as fans, a generator, tents, a battery charger and lights to aid the animal rescuers on scene. The 53' trailer and its 16-ton cargo load departed the PetSmart® Distribution Center in Ennis, Texas on Monday, bound for Clarksville, Ark., where animal-rescue teams will operate an emergency animal shelter.

"In addition to the crucial supplies for the animal victims, PetSmart Charities also dispatches a specially trained team of volunteers to meet the Emergency Relief Waggin' vehicle on the scene, unload the 16 tons of supplies and set up the temporary animal shelter," said Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities, Inc. "This enables animal rescuers to focus on the animals and immediately tend to their medical needs. This type of well-executed, cooperative effort means that the helpless animal victims will get the assistance they need as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Dogs rescued from the facility are mainly small breeds such as shih tzus and Chihuahuas.

PetSmart Charities is a nonprofit organization and the largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America. It established its Emergency Relief Waggin' program in March 2007 to help animals who are displaced and/or suffering as a result of natural or man-made disasters.

Man-made disasters include puppy mills -- sub-standard breeding facilities where dozens or hundreds of dogs and puppies often live in neglectful conditions while producing puppies for sale -- and animal-hoarding situations. In some cases, the individuals involved in puppy-mill or animal-hoarding situations face criminal charges.

"Already this year, PetSmart Charities has dispatched its Emergency Relief Waggin' vehicle to the scene of eight reported puppy mill rescues," Della Maddalena added. "Unfortunately, many dogs and puppies in pet stores or advertised for sale by other means come from facilities such as these. We hope prospective pet parents will consider adopting from a shelter or rescue group instead when they're ready to give a dog or puppy a lifelong, loving home."

Members of the public who would like to support PetSmart Charities' Emergency Relief Waggin' program can make a tax-deductible donation in one of two ways:


1.  Make a credit card donation via the PetSmart Charities Web site
    at: www.PetSmartCharities.org;

2.  Mail a check earmarked for "Emergency Relief" directly to: PetSmart
    Charities, Attn: Emergency Relief; 19601 N. 27th Avenue, Phoenix,
    Ariz., 85027.

Funds raised will be used to aid pets affected by this and future Emergency Relief Waggin' program efforts when pets are affected by natural and man-made disasters.

Learn more about the Emergency Relief Waggin' program at http://www.petsmartcharities.org/programs/emergency-relief.php

ABOUT PETSMART CHARITIES, INC.

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal-welfare issues and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. Since 1994, PetSmart Charities has funded more than $88 million in grants and programs benefiting animal welfare organizations and, through its in-store pet adoption program, has helped save the lives of more than 3.9 million pets. To learn more about how PetSmart Charities is working to help find a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit www.petsmartcharities.org or call 1-800-423-PETS.

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