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CANTON, Ga. — A Georgia woman has been charged with more than 250 counts of animal cruelty after hundreds of puppies were seized from her business in rural Cherokee County.

Joy Wise, owner of Heavenly Kennels near Cumming, Ga., faces 264 counts of animal cruelty after Cherokee County marshals took 357 dogs Tuesday from her property, authorities said. Officials found the animals living in their own feces without adequate cage space.

The number of animals nearly overwhelmed the Cherokee County Animal Shelter, which closed Wednesday to assess the dogs and begin their care. They are not available for adoption because of their needs and ongoing litigation, but the shelter is soliciting donations because of the unexpected expenses, officials said on their Facebook page.

Cherokee County is about 40 miles north of Atlanta and has about 225,000 residents.

"I saw dogs sleeping in food bowls so they could get off the wire screen" that was the bottom of their cage, designed so that when the dogs urinated, the mess would fall through the grate, Dr. Michael Good, a veterinarian in Marietta, Ga., who helped with rescue efforts, told WGCL-TV, Atlanta. "Imagine living your whole life on something like that. It's got to have an effect on your ligaments and your joints."

In Georgia, animal cruelty is a misdemeanor that alleges willful neglect of an animal, including not providing adequate food or water or sanitary shelter. Aggravated cruelty, a felony, is charged when an animal is knowingly killed or seriously disfigured, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The investigation into Wise was begun earlier this year when a North Carolina woman bought a Yorkie-Chihuahua mix online that died days after she brought it home.

Recently, Wise had puppies of four different breeds offered online with prices from $350 to $750 at PuppyFind.com. Her information there stated she has been a breeder for 35 years, had been selling on the site for almost eight years and now was specializing in "designer" breeds.

Wise's husband has said he and his wife will fight the charges and will not forfeit the animals.

If you want a dog, the best thing you can do is adopt a homeless animal from a shelter or rescue group, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

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