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Originally published Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 3:55 PM

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Raids bring in 600 dogs, then puppies arrive

It was hard enough on animal shelters in northwest Washington state when nearly 600 dogs were seized in raids. Then they started having puppies.

EVERETT, Wash. —

It was hard enough on animal shelters in northwest Washington state when nearly 600 dogs were seized in raids. Then they started having puppies.

About 80 percent of the animals seized in Snohomish and Skagit counties in the past week - predominantly miniature Chihuahuas, shih tzus, poodles, Yorkshire terriers and so-called "designer" dogs - appear to be pregnant, officials said.

Everett Animal Services received 155 dogs that were taken from a site near Gold Bar in Snohomish County on Jan. 16, Director Bud Wessman said.

"We've already had two litters born," Wessman told The Seattle Times. "We have six that will give birth over the weekend and probably another 10 litters coming up in the next week."

According to documents released Friday in Evergreen District Court, investigators have been told that the Gold Bar operation made millions of a dollars a year, The Herald of Everett reported.

The site has been linked to a second property in Skagit County where authorities seized 135 dogs on Wednesday and returned Friday to seize the remaining 308.

The owner of the second property, near Mount Vernon, is the mother of the woman who owns the Snohomish County property.

Investigators believe a puppy mill was being run primarily out of the mother's five-acre property under the name Mountain View Kennel, Skagit County sheriff's Deputy Will Reichardt said.

He said the first batch was considered to be in immediate need of care because the dogs looked sick, had matted fur, were standing in their own feces and had been left without food and water, were deemed to be in need of immediate medical care, he said.

The second batch dogs was taken after authorities determined they might be infected with coccidia, a potentially deadly intestinal parasite that causes diarrhea and was found in two dogs from the initial raid, Reichardt said.

Most of the dogs from both batches are now at the Skagit County Fairgrounds, although some have been placed in foster homes, he added.

In the earlier raid in Snohomish County, deputies and animal control officers said the dogs they seized were sick, filthy and covered with fleas.

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The dogs were sold from a third family property in the town of Snohomish, described as a "nice country house," and through the Internet site Wags & Wiggles Teacups, said Paula Helinski, who lives near the Skagit County property and has spent years collecting documents on the operation.

Investigators went to the Snohomish property on Jan. 16 and found 44 dogs, more than allowed by the kennel permit, but left the animals there because they appeared to be in good shape, Snohomish County Animal Control manager Vicki Lubrin said.

Authorities in the two counties say they are cooperating in the investigation and may file animal cruelty charges.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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