Valley families turn tragedy into new family members and memories

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More than two dozen families welcomed home puppies today after picking them up from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office animal shelter.
 
The dogs were rescued this summer from a local puppy mill.
 
The Philippe family is now welcoming a new family member…Stitch who is a French bulldog.
 
“This has probably been the longest week of my life,” says Rico Philippe. “I have been waiting, I'm so excited, I can't even explain how excited I am, just super happy.”
 
Stitch, along with nearly 100 other dogs, was seized from a Wittmann puppy mill back in May.
 
“They were all in serious condition,” said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “I think we lost a few. We seized 99 dogs. They were not all puppies.”
 
Detectives say the puppies were found in wooden boxes with small air holes and dirty containers.
 
After they were rescued, they were taken to the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office’s no-kill animal shelter, at the Mash Unit.
 
“14 years ago, when we started cracking down on animal cruelty, we needed a place to put the dogs, so we kicked out the inmates and put them in the tents, so I had cells in the jail, 200 of them, so we put the dogs in the cells,” Arpaio said.
 
Female inmates take care of the dogs until they get adopted.
 
Once word got out about adopting the rescued dogs, the telephone rang off the hook.
 
MCSO held a lottery and drew names.
 
Last week, the winners waited in line to pick out their dog.
 
Rico says after seeing Stitch's face, he couldn't resist.
 
“We've been reading up on him a lot and getting ready, getting the house ready and everything, so we are super excited at home.”
 
Now these pups have a new life to look forward to and Sheriff Arpaio will make sure it stays that way.
 
“I’m sure that the new owners will take care of the pups because we do follow ups to make sure they're all taken care of,” Arpaio said.
 
Each puppy adoption costs $200. The money raised goes toward the operation of the Sheriff's MASH Unit and there are still dogs available, so if you want to adopt just head to our website, fox10phoenix.com, for more information. 
 
Deputies took the woman running that puppy mill in Wittmann into custody. She's charged with nearly a hundred counts of animal neglect.
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