58 dogs rescued from Horse Cave backyard breeding operation

18 of the dogs were immediately transported to Kentucky rescue organizations, and the other 40 were taken to Animal Rescue Corps' facility in Tennessee.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 8:17 PM CST
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HORSE CAVE, Ky. (WBKO) - After a successful rescue from a backyard breeding operation in Horse Cave, 58 dogs are now on the road to adoption.

Animal Rescue Corps, a national rescue organization that assists law enforcement with the seizure of animals of all species, organized what they have titled ‘Operation Unchained.’ They were called in when law enforcement ordered the breeder to either surrender the animals or face animal cruelty charges.

40 of the dogs were taken to Animal Rescue Corps’ facility in Gallatin, Tennessee, while the remaining 18 were immediately taken to Kentucky rescue organizations.

Michael Cunningham, shelter director for Animal Rescue Corps, described the neglectful conditions that the dogs were kept in.

“As you look deeper onto the property, you just see dog after dog after dog tied to trees,” Cunningham said. “Most of them had no cover or shelter at all, others had water barrels that were on their sides or they would take pallets and lean them together and the dogs were huddled underneath there.”

Cunningham recounts that in some cases, the trees had grown around the dog’s chains, showing how long the owner had kept animals in these conditions. As the operation continued, the dogs’ behaviors also showed signs of their years of distress.

“When we got the dogs off of the chains off of the trees, and we’re walking them over to our intake tables, they only knew how to walk in a circle,” Cunningham said. “They had walked in a circle around that tree their entire life, so as we’re walking straight in a line to our intake tables, the dogs are circling us the whole way there because they only know how to walk in a circle.”

The owner will face no consequences for the treatment of the animals, and because of Kentucky’s lack of bond and forfeiture regulations, there is nothing that legally prohibits him from owning animals in the future.

Throughout the rescue operation, Cunningham and his team noted that some of the dog’s chains were empty, leading them to believe that some of the dogs had been moved to another property.

“He admitted that he had moved animals off of the property, and they sent animal control officers to those addresses and we brought those animals back, and we have them here at our facility,” Cunningham said.

In the next 10 days, all 40 dogs in the care of Animal Rescue Corps will receive veterinary care and grooming, then will undergo a behavior analysis.

“We’re gonna put that information up on a private web page that goes out to our placement partners all around North America, and they will basically shop the page, and they’ll say ‘Hey, we can take these five dogs and we’ll take some cats and we’ll take some rabbits,’ or whatever it is that we have here, and we’ll transport the animals to them,” Cunningham explained.

Animal Rescue Corps operates across the country, and before the Horse Cave rescue, they responded to additional backyard breeder rescue operations in Virginia and Tennessee. In countless cases similar to these, Cunningham notes a common theme among backyard breeders.

“Their whole intent is to make money. They are not interested in keeping a healthy dog or even selling healthy dogs. Always adopt from a reputable rescue organization or a shelter,” Cunningham said. “They are gonna do their homework and make sure that the animals are fully vetted, vaccinated, spayed, and neutered before they go out into the public. They’re not gonna keep on producing animals which are gonna overwhelm these shelters that are already full in these areas.”

Animal Rescue Corps is a nonprofit organization that runs entirely on donations. Their services are completely free, though they accept monetary donations on their website, list volunteer opportunities, and have an Amazon Wishlist for those who would like to contribute to their mission.