The Humane Society announced that more than 50 dogs were rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Duplin County Friday.
The suspected puppy mill is located at a residence on Dave Bright Road near Faison.
According to the Humane Society, Duplin County Animal Control received a complaint and served a search warrant on the property.
At the scene, Animal Control found a variety of dogs, including German shepherds, dachshunds and Yorkies, the Humane Society stated. The dogs were "living in deplorable conditions and suffering from a multitude of untreated medical conditions."
The Humane Society said many of the animals were living in feces and filth, and did not have access to clean water or food. The owner agreed to surrender the animals, according to officials.
"These dogs were forced to live in filth, with no adequate shelter, for who knows how long," said Kim Alboum, state director for the Humane Society. "I'm hopeful this rescue, along with the other 17 the [Humane Society] has been a part of since 2011, will move legislators to implement stronger state laws. We're thankful to Duplin County Animal Control for their leadership and support to help these animals in need."
"The scene is absolutely devastating for these animals. They have endured this for so long," said Joe Newburn, director of Duplin County Animal Services. "Puppy mills will not be tolerated in Duplin County. We are grateful for the agencies that stepped in to assist us [Friday]."
There is no word on the identity of the property's owner. But investigators said two people are each facing 44 counts of misdemeanor charges.
NewsChannel 12 spoke with a neighbor, who said she was surprised so many dogs were found on the property.
"I mean, I stay coming and going, and I always hear lots of barking," the neighbor said. "But I had no idea that was happening. I am very surprised."
The Humane Society worked with the Duplin County Animal Shelter, Pet Friends of Duplin County and the SPCA of Wake County to help rescue the dogs Friday.
The dogs have been taken to the Duplin County Animal Shelter and the SPCA of Wake County, where they will be thoroughly examined and receive medical treatment, according to the Humane Society.
The Humane Society of the United States will offer up to $5,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator. Those with tips can call 1-877-MILL-TIP. Callers will remain anonymous.