FORT WORTH - They're still in cages, but life is already a lot better for dozens of dogs saved from miserable conditions at an East Texas puppy mill.
"We got 52 small-breed [dogs,] mostly Shih Tzus, poodles," said Shelly Meeks, assistant director of the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth.
Meeks said they're friendly, but not always socialized, after years spent in cages producing crops of puppies.
"Multiple litters, multiple times a year," Meeks said. "The poor girls have been used and abused, so we're going to make that never happen again. Get them spayed, get them into some new homes."
She said authorities likely would have seized the dogs, if they had known about the puppy mill. The Humane Society of North Texas learned about it only because the owner died.
"Her husband released them to a small shelter -- they had no way to accommodate that large number of animals," Meeks said.
The dogs arrived in Fort Worth Friday, which turned out to be terrible timing.
"We took in over 200 animals Friday alone," Meeks said.
It was a bad day in a near-record-breaking week.
"We took over 650 animals that week," she said.
Unlike government shelters, the Humane Society of North Texas gets no tax money.
When the shelter overflows with dogs and cats, it's an instant space and funding crisis.
So, it has slashed adoption prices to $50 for an animal under one year old, and $25 for over one year.
Meeks said the puppy mill dogs should make good pets.
Despite their past, their future is looking up, with irresistible brown eyes.