(Marion County, TX) - "You see, that's where they've been living," Caroline Wedding with the Marion County Humane Society, pointing at crates with dogs inside, said. "That is their house. It's as much territory as they're allowed."
Wedding said it was a relative of the property owner that alerted authorities to the nearly 200 dogs, mostly border collie mixes, on the property outside of Jefferson.
Some of the dogs were running free, some were in the crates, and some were in cages a few feet off the ground.
"We're basically cleaning up a mess here, that someone else made," Wedding said.
The property owner, 64 year old John Wilson, is in a mental hospital in Shreveport, LA. Wedding said it's been nearly a month since he's been here, and that's clear just by looking inside the home. It looks like the dogs are being fed, but they may have never seen a vet.
"Sometimes these puppy mill owners are so concerned about someone finding out about their operation, that's one of the reasons they do not go to a vet," Wedding said. "Certainly they have not had their rabies vaccinations, because an individual can't purchase that vaccine."
And there is heart-breaking evidence that some of these dogs are being kept just to breed.
"You can look at the female's teeth," Wedding said. "To keep them from biting the males, when the females come in heat, they file off their teeth."
These dogs are suffering everything from tumors, to mange, to eye infections, and Wedding said they deserve much better.
"This is what everyone doesn't see," Wedding said. "We see the beautiful little things that are on leashes that get a lot of love. But this is where our hearts really need to be, is for these unknown situations, that are crying out for our help."
Wedding said her office has already been contacted by agencies across the country wanting to help. The Marion County DA said when the property owner gets out of the hospital, he faces two charges of animal cruelty.