Puppies are being bred at an Oahu homeless camp known for recent dog attacks and sold to pet stores, Hawaiian Humane Society outreach teams allege.
Society employees say they've been visiting the camp near the Keehi Transfer Station for the past year and a half, and now know why many homeless pet owners have been refusing sterilization services for their dogs.
"We have puppy mill situations where they are in horrible conditions. They clean them up and groom them and then sell them," said Harold Han, field services manager for the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Puppies from the camp were surrendered by the armfuls Tuesday to the humane society.
Teams left the camp with 16 puppies and five adult dogs, but with as many as 80 dogs living there, they are expecting to take in more.
Han said the episode underscores the importance of doing research before getting a pet.
"Ask questions of the seller. Always inquire about where the dog is raised, even go and do a site inspection, if possible, to see the conditions the dogs are raised in," Han said. "There's many diseases. They're not getting vaccines. They have worms or what not. So it's always important to know where the animals are coming from."
The humane society said current laws and enforcement are ineffective when it comes to discouraging unlicensed breeding operations.
On Thursday, the city is planning to sweep the site where at least two people have been attacked by dogs just this month.
However, the humane society also wants to point out that some of the dogs are being treated well.
"We do have very responsible homeless that come to our shelter for the pet food bank. They license their animals. They take all the right steps," said Han.
Dogs collected from the camp will be cleaned, vaccinated, and evaluated by veterinarians before they are available for adoption.