Man arrested after surrendering more than 700 dogs

Berrien Co. Puppy Mill Animal Conditions

BERRIEN CO., GA (WALB) - Reason Gray is facing charges after he surrendered over 630 dogs a week ago, and after 85 more dogs were found Thursday at his former “Georgia Puppies" business.

Berrien County Sheriff Ray Paulk said deputies had not made any arrests originally because there was still so much investigating to be done.

“It was time to get them in and do a search and find all these dogs and make sure we did what was right to protect these animals," said Paulk.

Gray now faces felony animal cruelty and obstruction of justice charges.

“Yesterday he kind of forced our hand. We knew that there was possibly some more dogs. We kind of held out to make sure that we did find these puppies and we did," said Paulk.

He said they’ve always had every intention of fully investigating this case.

“So, this is going to take some time to sort through all the numbers. I can assure that we will get to the bottom of it and we will get every charge that we can possibly receive on Mr. Gray," said Paulk.

Sheriff Paulk said law enforcement never got any word of any problems about Gray’s breeding business before the department of agriculture approached him.

“Berrien County Sheriff’s Office never had any reports of anything and any issue out there at Georgia Puppies. I think our animal control may have received some and they forwarded those to the Department of AG," said Paulk.

He says in his 25 years of law enforcement, he’s never heard of anything like this but he hopes it sets a precedent.

“You got to take care of your animals and if you are not able to then you need to reach out before it gets into a situation that we have like this one," said Paulk.

At this time, there’s no word on how many or what other charges Gray might also face.

Investigators say they’re waiting to hear back on the condition of the dogs from the nearly 30 animal rescue groups that stepped in to help.

We spoke to a representative from of one of the many rescue groups involved, who shared that these conditions were among the worst that they’ve ever seen.

“It was just—pure lack of basic care," said Itaska Borowski, Barc Humane Society Director.

Barc Humane Society in Valdosta was one of the many agencies originally called to Berrien County to assist in the rescue of about 630 dogs out of a puppy mill on Barney Park Rd.

Borowski shared the condition of the dogs rescued varied.

“All the way from, some of them look like they had actually been groomed all the way to some were so matted that you could even tell if they were boys or girls, nor could you tell what breed of dog they were," said Borowski.

She says some of the dogs were severely malnourished, had urine burns, smelled of feces, and had suffered clear emotional neglect.

“They were frightened. They were shaking. They would pee when you would pick them up. Some of them were snapping because they were so scared,"said Borowski.

The dogs were sent to shelters and rescues across Georgia and Florida. Many of them still in the process of recovering and looking for a home.

“We’ve gotten them all vetted. We’re working on getting them professionally groomed by the help of some of local groomers. We’re slowing getting them into permanent fosters," said Borowski.

Hearing that Gray was being charged, Borrowski says this is a step in the right direction.

“It’s about darn time. Unfortunately, until people start having consequences, which other people see, this is never going to stop," said Borowski.

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