OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) — An Opelousas woman is behind bars, facing 174 counts of animal cruelty.
Police say Anita Belaire operated a secret puppy mill, where she neglected nearly 300 dogs and puppies.
The St. Landy Parish animal shelter’s director tells News 10 in February, she got a tip that Belaire was operating a large-scale puppy mill at her home.
She went undercover to buy a puppy, and through their investigation, police discovered Belaire had been running it for over 20 years in secret.
She was arrested Thursday.
“I don’t even know the words to describe it. It’s very encouraging that we did get her arrest because these little dogs really did deserve better than they had,” shelter director Terri Courville said.
When police raided Belaire’s home in February, they seized nearly 300 dogs and puppies after finding them living in horrific living conditions, Courville said.
“The stench was so bad you actually had to go outside and put Vicks on your nose. When you went back in, your eyes would burn. There were about 2 x 2 boxes with dogs just packed in them standing in wire, no bed, no cardboard, six and seven to a little tiny box, just screaming. It was horrible,” she told News 10.
Courville says of the nearly 300 dogs there, 235 of them were older dogs, being used to breed litter after litter every year.
She says they found dogs with broken jaws, bulging eyes, and dental infections so bad, it was abscessing through some of their faces.
“They had matting that was so thick, some of them were almost unable to walk. They would just drag. One in particular was five pounds, six ounces, and when we finished shaving him, he was a little over a pound,” she said.
The dogs were immediately seized from Belaire’s puppy mill, given medical care, and sent to shelters, where they are now being adopted and fostered.
After three months of fighting for her rights to keep the animals, Belaire was arrested and charged with 174 counts of animal cruelty.
Courville says although Belaire was arrested, they’re now working with St. Landry parish government officials the create new rules and regulations to prevent her and others from operating another puppy mill like the one at her home.