South Georgia puppy mill

Baldwin County resident Judith Gibbs and her family are temporarily housing 30 dogs that were gathered from a South Georgia puppy mill recently inspected by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The Nashville, Ga. property was later searched by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office who then arrested the breeder/property owner.

Thirty dogs recently discovered in south Georgia have a new lease on life in Baldwin County. 

It’s all thanks to local resident Judith Gibbs and her connection to the animal adoption agency, Operation Freedom Ride. 

Last week a Nashville, Ga. man voluntarily surrendered 630 dogs following a dog breeder inspection of his property carried out by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, according to media reports. 

The Valdosta Daily Times reported that the dogs had not been cared for properly and they did not live in a clean environment as some showed signs of urine burns. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for the property Thursday and found that Reason Craig Gray, 58, of Nashville, Ga. kept 85 dogs on his property, according to a post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Gray was arrested and now faces the possibility of multiple charges pending the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

Various humane societies, animal rescues, and foster agencies stepped in to care for the more than 700 animals, and a week ago, 30 of them wound up in the Baldwin County home of Judith Gibbs, thanks to her connection with Operation Freedom Ride. 

Her description of the dogs’ condition upon arrival tells a lot about the environment where they had been kept. 

“There were a lot of bad ones,” Gibbs said. “We got them all clipped down. Some of them had yeast infections, so they had to be dipped for that. They’ve all been treated and washed.”

She added a lot of them had fur that was overgrown and matted. A groomer from local business Pink Poodle donated her time to help get the dogs looking in better shape. Some had claws grown out so far that they could not even walk properly while others still have calluses they developed from being kept in such small cages for so long.  

Gibbs and her family started out caring for 30 dogs — all of them small breeds. Five were moved to other local foster homes after receiving their shots and microchips, and she said more were scheduled to go out Friday. The dogs at the Gibbs home are currently being rotated between indoor and outdoor environments. They are clean, and some are friendly while others are still understandably a little shy. One cocker spaniel in the yard even wriggled its way out of its leash while The Union-Recorder was on-site, but the dog, Brinks, (like the home security system because he barks so much whenever someone knew walks up) just curled up under the family’s porch rather than trying to run off. 

Operation Freedom Ride, an animal adoption agency with a network of foster partners, provided much of what was needed to care for such a large group of dogs in just a regular family home, but Gibbs said the community has also stepped up as individuals and the local PetSmart have given donations.

“The community has donated a lot,” she said. “Operation Freedom Ride sent supplies through a wish list on Amazon, so it took a few days before those items could be shipped here. If it wasn’t for the community, we would have been so in trouble.”

Twenty of the dogs at the Gibbs home are scheduled to be sent out to fosters and other shelters next Saturday once they are fixed next week. Other items needed include cleaning supplies such as a broom for the indoor area where the dogs are being kept and play yards, which could be donated on a loaner basis, so the dogs can move around freely in an outdoor environment. Volunteers are also welcome to give their time to help the animals.

“Anybody that wants to walk dogs or even just pet them,” Gibbs said. “They all need lovin’. That’s what’s most important to these dogs is just being loved on.”

Anyone interested in making a donation of any kind should contact Gibbs via Facebook message. She can be found on the social media site under the name “Judith Gunter Gibbs.”

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