Samoyed Gus, rescued from "puppy mill," living new life in Cedar Rapids

    Once called "fearful and under-socialized," Gus is now relaxed and happy enough to come sniff out a new friend: a news camera.

    Samoyed puppies are now being adopted after around 160 of them were seized from an alleged puppy mill in north Iowa. The dogs, all with various health conditions, were sent to shelters across the Midwest for evaluation after White Fire Kennels was raided in mid-November.

    Nine of those dogs went to Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo; Lynn and Sheila Williams were the first to bring home one of those dogs.

    However, when they brought their new puppy home November 27th, he wouldn't leave the safety of his carrier.

    "They shouldn't be sitting in a kennel cowering and shivering and whimpering," Lynn Williams says of what he observed that day. He and his wife sat with Gus for thirty to forty-five minutes, before they had the idea to bring in their other dog.

    When Gus met nine-year-old Samoyed Olivia, the change was immediate.

    "Runs around now with his ears perked up and his tail curled,” Williams says of Gus’s new demeanor. “It's a completely different dog than when we brought him home and it's only been eight days."

    Gus's fear, though heart-wrenching for the Williams, was understandable.

    The ASPCA and Worth County Sheriffs rescued Gus, and 153 other Samoyeds, on November 12th from what's been described as inhumane conditions.

    "I mean, to me it kind of looked like a hog refinery. Somebody had to help these dogs out,” Williams says of what he saw in pictures from White Fire Kennels.

    The owner of those kennels, Barbara Kavars, has asked Worth County Magistrate Court to allow her to keep nine dogs and four cats. A judge is expected to make a decision by the end of the year; Kavars has not been charged with a crime, though investigators say charges are pending.

    Lynn is watching the case closely.

    "I hate to see anyone get their pets taken away,” he says. “I know what they mean to us, but if it's a better situation, they should not go back there."

    He’s somewhat more invested, because he and his wife were almost customers of this accused puppy mill.

    "We had actually been looking for a male puppy for probably nine months and we had looked up there [online] at the puppies beforehand and didn't really care for the situation up there. The dogs weren’t very well-kept. They had straw in the backgrounds and they had mud all over them and stuff."

    He's also now invested in the stories of Gus's brothers and sisters.

    "Facebook actually has a page just for people who adopted them,” he explains. “From what I gather, they're all doing really well, just they're at different paces."

    The Williams are also showing Gus that it's not where you begin in life -- it's where you end up.

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