More than 80 dogs found at Calera home

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Upon responding to an animal complaint, police found 82 dogs at a home in the 2000 block of Highway 26 in Calera.

The residence also doubles as a facility, called the Animal Rescue Kennel, where dogs are taken in and adopted out. The facility differs from most animal control facilities because it has a no-kill policy, which means the animals are not euthanized, said Police Sgt. Angela Velarde.

“This is not a puppy mill by any means,” she said.

Peggy Brooks, who runs Animal Rescue Kennel with husband Donald, said the facility is a non-profit organization they have been running for 13 years. She said the facility has housed up to 110 dogs on their six acres of land.

“We’re both retired and that’s all we do is take care of these dogs,” Brooks said. “We have taken dogs from the Shelby humane society that they would have put to sleep and, a year or two later, people have come along and adopted them.”

The initial complaint, made by an anonymous caller, concerned a particular dog that had mange, Velarde said.

Once officers investigated, they found the dogs were not vaccinated for rabies, which is required under state law. The facility housed all breeds, from puppies to elderly dogs, Velarde said.

“That’s what is admirable about the nature of the facility,” she said. “They try to get the animals out there.”

Brooks said the dogs had not been vaccinated because it was a problem to transport all the animals to a veterinarian’s office. A vet was scheduled to come out to the facility to vaccinate the dogs recently, but the plan was canceled because of rain.

Twenty of the dogs have been moved to the Shelby County Humane society, but a vet will come this week to vaccinate the 62 dogs remaining at Animal Rescue Kennel, Brooks said.

Brooks said she doesn’t want to move the rest of the dogs, although police have asked her to surrender more.

“I’m trying to keep the numbers down, and we’re not taking any more right now until we get this thing settled, but we will take more eventually,” she said. “I just don’t want to see them put to sleep. They’re not running loose in the neighborhood.”

Velarde said as long as the remaining dogs get their rabies vaccinations and the kennels are kept free of waste, Brooks should be able to keep them. The facility must also follow state laws concerning animals, Velarde said.

Brooks said the dog that has mange is on medication and the disease is controlled.

“Of course, nobody wants to adopt him, but we won’t put him to sleep,” she said. “There’s a few that don’t look pretty, but we do the best we can.”

Velarde said she has worked with the Brooks before and that they are doing their best to cooperate fully.

Criminal charges have not been filed at this time.