Authorities rescued 44 dogs from a Lamar County breeder Thursday, the Atlanta Humane Society said. Atlanta Humane Society
Photo: Atlanta Humane Society
Photo: Atlanta Humane Society

44 dogs rescued from Middle Georgia breeder, headed to Atlanta

Authorities rescued 44 dogs from an alleged puppy mill in Middle Georgia on Thursday, many of which were brought to Atlanta for new homes, the Atlanta Humane Society said. 

The animals were living in muddy outdoor pens in their own urine and excrement at a Lamar County farm, said Christina Hill, spokeswoman for the Atlanta Humane Society.

The animals’ owners — a husband and wife — were arrested on animal cruelty charges, said Elizabeth Bobbitt, interim district attorney for the Towaliga Judicial Circuit.

As of Thursday evening, Barnesville residents John David Matthews and Latitia Adelle Matthews remained in the Lamar County jail. Their bond hearings were set for Friday morning.

John David Matthews and Latitia Adelle Matthews were arrested on animal cruelty charges. Photo: Lamar County Sheriff's Office

An investigation began Wednesday when an inspector with the Department of Agriculture went to the location to follow up on a complaint that the couple were selling dogs without a license, Bobbitt said. 

“After seeing the condition of the animals on the property, the inspector called the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office who responded and notified us,” Bobbitt said. “The dogs were in horrendous condition.” 

The animals were living in muddy outdoor pens in their own urine and excrement, authorities said.
Photo: Atlanta Humane Society

Bobbitt said John David Matthews, the proprietor of Sweet Basil Farm and Kennels, surrendered his animals voluntarily.

The dogs were removed by the humane society’s Animal Protection Unit as well as Lamar County deputies and members of the DA’s office.

Authorities also recovered three box turtles, two guinea pigs and 18 pigs.

“They had no food and undrinkable water,” Hill said, adding the animals had varying medical conditions. “They have matted fur, are underweight and some have wounds.”

Several of the dogs rescued from a Lamar County breeder are being brought to Atlanta.
Photo: Atlanta Humane Society

Four of the dogs needed immediate care and were transported to a Lamar County veterinarian, while 19 others were being transported to the Atlanta Humane Society’s Howell Mill campus. The remaining dogs, Hill said, will be taken to FurKids Animal Rescue and Shelters as well as Great Pyrenees Rescue of Atlanta.

Several different breeds were rescued, including goldendoodles, Bernese mountain dogs, golden retrievers, German shepherds and Great Pyrenees, Hill said.

Animal cruelty charges were filed against the owners of the dogs.
Photo: Atlanta Humane Society

Last week, a Berrien County breeder was arrested after more than 700 dogs were rescued from his property, authorities said.

MORE: Georgia breeder arrested after 85 more dogs found, bringing total rescued to more than 700 

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