NORTH ADAMS -- The owners of an unlicensed dog-breeding operation will face felony animal cruelty and other charges this week, police said Monday.
Charges will be brought "based on the overall conditions" of the kennel, including "a lack of adequate shelter, food, water and space," according to North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio. He did not release the names of the suspects.
Animal control officers, along with city health and building inspectors, responded to a complaint early Wednesday morning at Rick's Quality Auto Sales on South State Street and discovered 31 Labrador retrievers living in living conditions deemed unsafe.
"It was a puppy mill," Cozzaglio said.
Several of the dogs rescued were less than a month old, with dried umbilical cords still attached, according to Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt.
The dogs were taken in by the Berkshire Humane Society, Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue.
The city health inspector had been to the scene several weeks prior, Loholdt said, but did not have access to fully view the kennel by law.
"I expected seven dogs [Wednesday]," Loholdt said.
Officials coordinated with shelter representatives to find the dogs a temporary residence within hours.
"Everything moved fast," Loholdt said. "I don't even know how it went that smoothly."
The Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue is now sheltering two pregnant chocolate Labs. It is asking for donations because it will need to provide for the animals for approximately two months, said Loholdt, who is also a volunteer there.
The pregnant dogs were given ultrasound exams this week -- one is approximately two weeks pregnant and the other nearly six weeks pregnant. The gestation period for dogs is approximately eight weeks.
She said that one charge of animal cruelty could be brought per rescued dog. Each alleged person involved in the breeding operation could face dozens of charges.
In addition to animal cruelty, the dog owners could face charges for failing to license their kennel with the city and failing to properly vaccinate the dogs. The dog owners could face jail time.
Listings on eBay from earlier this month, that have since been removed, advertise chocolate and yellow Labrador retriever puppies out of North Adams for $850 each. No name, address, or phone number is provided with the listing.
Charges have not been filed yet because the department is working to complete a significant amount of paperwork related to the case, Cozzaglio said.
"For all intents and purposes, the investigation has been completed," Cozzaglio said.
To reach Adam Shanks, email