RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. - Dozens of dogs were surrendered after man is accused of operating a puppy mill.
The dogs arrived at the Humane Society of Charlotte after being removed from three different homes in Rutherford County.
Animal Control officers showed Channel 9 one dog after another they said once was part of a puppy mill being operated behind a home in Rutherford County.
The dogs seized included English bulldog, Yorkie, cocker spaniel, French bulldog and shih tzu breeds.
"We saw dogs that are going to need eye removal. We have major ear infections, skin infections. There were some dogs that were so matted were not even sure what kind of dog they are," said Kim Alboum with North Carolina Humane Society.
IMAGES: Suspected puppy mill busted in Rutherford County
Deputies said it was a tip that led them here earlier this week, but when they returned with a search warrant Wednesday dozens of the dogs were gone.
Investigators said they learned the owner had moved them to other residences where they were seized Thursday.
The Humane Society asked Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty not to handle one of the female dogs yet. They said that it has never been in the grass before because if was locked in a cage.
Faherty asked how long it will be before she can be adopted out. They said weeks because of her condition.
The Humane Society of Charlotte provided veterinarians and volunteers to help with the animals. After undergoing an initial screening, they were loaded onto a van for what could be a long road to recovery.
"Half of the dogs that we have in the van right now are probably going to have to be sedated, heavily sedated in order for us to remove these heavy, heavy mats," said Jorge Ortega with Charlotte Humane Society.
The medical costs are expected to run in the thousands of dollars. Deputies said they are continuing their investigation into the owner of the dogs and will go to the district attorney early next week to seek charges.
The Humane Society is hoping lawmakers will consider an amendment to the current budget that would regulate commercial dog breeders.