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371 dogs seized from Washington breeder

May 29, 2009 at 5:08 PM

PROSSER, Wash., May 29 (UPI) -- A Washington state dog breeder was charged with animal cruelty after 371 animals were removed from what investigators described as a puppy mill.

The animals, described as miniature American Eskimo dogs, were housed temporarily at the Benton County Fairgrounds, the TriCity Herald reported. Sheriff's deputies spent hours Wednesday at Ella Stewart's home in Kennewick.

Stewart, 66, who has operated Sun Valley Kennel for more than 40 years, entered a not guilty plea to a count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Officials say the dogs can only be released for adoption once the legal case is over.

Animal rescue groups were seeking donations for food for the dogs and volunteer help from veterinarians to examine them.

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