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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — UPDATE: RACE is no longer accepting applications for the mill puppies. Once the applicants are verified, all the pups will soon have homes. However, there are still plenty of dogs and cats who need loving homes. For a look at RACE’s animals, visit: http://www.raceshelter.org.

Because there are no laws against dog-breeding operations in North Carolina, some refer to our state as puppy mill central. But a two-county sting in southeastern North Carolina has been busted, and the owners pleaded guilty. The animals are now being cared for by rescue groups around the area. One of those groups helping to foster the mill puppies held an adoption Saturday.

“It’s just so sad that someone could do that to any animal. The conditions that those puppies were in; those folks were just bad people,” said Tina Hughes, who is looking to adopt. “I hope they get what they deserve.”

Hughes is looking to add another four-legged friend to her family. She stopped by Rescue Animals Community Effort’s adoption Saturday at Aunt Kerry’s Pet Stop in Wilmington to check out Scrappy, one of the females used to breed puppies for the busted Brunswick County mill.

Scrappy and Milo are the only two mill dogs ready to be taken home. The others are still too young and need some more time in their foster homes.

RACE President Cheri McLain has some advice for people looking to adopt dogs from a mill.

“If you’re getting an older puppy mill dog, you need to be patient and treat them like a puppy and give them time to learn how to be a dog like a dog is supposed to live,” McLain said.

“That’s all they need is love and some attention,” Hughes said. “We have lots of that to give, so we are just really excited, and we’re just so grateful that there are just such wonderful people like this who do so much good for animals that are in this situation.”

The situation in Brunswick County was bad, 158 dogs in a trailer with no power. The rescued pups had to be groomed, treated for fleas and checked for medical and dental issues.

McLain says suspicious activity is often easy to spot.

“If they want to meet you somewhere to give you the dog, if they are not willing to show you papers or screen you and screen your application, then it’s probably a puppy mill,” McLain warned. “And if you’re buying it offline, it’s probably a puppy mill.”

The Brunswick County mill primarily bred Poodles, Pomeranians, Schnauzers, Malti-poos, Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzu mixes.

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