Acting on an anonymous tip, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says it busted a puppy mill near 348th Avenue and Van Buren Street in Tonopah and rescued 130 dogs.
Officials say dog feces was everywhere and that the animals appeared to have little food or water. The dogs — mostly pugs and a few French bulldogs — are being housed at Sheriff Joe Arpaio's no-kill animal shelter, MASH, where they will be examined by a veterinarian and cared for by inmates until they are fit for adoption.
(The MCSO is now saying that "there were only a few French Bulldogs seized. They are all seniors and have major medical issues. All these animals were in deplorable conditions and will not be medically cleared for some time.")
Chris Hegstrom of the MCSO alerted the world to the situation with a tweet he sent late Tuesday night: "Look at the French bulldogs," he wrote under a photograph of the dog pen. "Sheriff Arpaio is on his way."
Arpaio tweeted a little while later that he was "in Tonopah and just saw all the pugs and French bulldogs in this puppy mill." (As New Times' Stephen Lemons wrote this week, Arpaio’s concern for animals appears to be a headline-grabbing gimmick designed to win public acclaim.)
The sheriff told the Arizona Republic that investigators had learned that the couple running the operation sold the dogs for $1,000 each and would meet prospective buyers away from their home so that no one could see how the animals lived.
As for how they managed to live in such proximity to the deplorable situation, Arpaio told 3TV: "They want to make money, it's greed...They [couldn't] care less about the conditions of the animals; probably don't care about their own conditions."
The couple could face more than 100 counts of animal abuse.
Sheriff Arpaio is on his way to Tonopah where deputies discovered this puppy mill. Look at the French Bulldogs. pic.twitter.com/tyvaZlvLkp— Ofc. Chris Hegstrom (@MCSOChris) November 18, 2015
Maricopa County Sheriff Deputies are wrapping up our latest puppy mill operation, 130 puppies were seized. pic.twitter.com/UMXyqbRKBf— Ofc. Chris Hegstrom (@MCSOChris) November 18, 2015
I'm on my way to Tonopah for a puppy mill. There are dozens of dogs, including French Bulldogs. pic.twitter.com/KdxBKaj4AR— Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) November 18, 2015
**Update 8:40 a.m. 11/18/15: The MCSO posted the following message: