Ten more dogs arrived at the Mahoning Valley Animal Hospital last week, the second group of dogs to visit our area after being abandoned by Pennsylvania breeders and puppy mills.

The TIMES NEWS reported in December that breeders across the state are choosing to close their kennels rather than meet new standards for dog breeding.

In order to renew a kennel license, owners are now required to provide animals with veterinarian care and better treatment, including a larger living space with solid flooring. Breeders who choose to let their kennel license expire must forfeit the dogs to Pennsylvania dog law officers.

In exchange for remaining anonymous, breeders across the state are releasing hundreds of dogs to be placed up for adoption. Rescue centers and veterinarians are scrambling to provide medical treatment and find new homes for these animals.

The latest group of dogs will be examined and spayed or neutered before being placed in permanent or foster homes throughout the area, said Dr. Mary Lombardo, veterinarian.

"They need to be spayed or neutered, so that they don't have more puppies," she said. "I want these dogs to have a second chance at life."

Because spaying or neutering a dog can be an expensive procedure, she hopes that donating the hospital's time and resources for the operation will make the animals more easily adoptable.

The animal hospital also reported that the first group of dogs, released shortly before Christmas, is doing well. Many have been placed in permanent homes and are gradually adapting to family life.

"The dogs that we adopted from here, they're doing well," said Lombardo. "They're slowly coming out of their shells."

Many of the dogs being spayed and neutered this week were assigned permanent homes before they arrived, thanks to area residents who responded to the last call for adoption.

Lombardo expects to receive more abandoned dogs in the upcoming weeks, and will maintain a list of interested people in order to quickly pair future dogs with potential owners.

Those who are willing to adopt a dog should contact volunteer Diane Sharpless at (570) 778-6886.

Because many of these dogs have spent their lives confined to crates, it takes a patient person to adopt these animals, she noted. Many have had little interaction with people and will adapt best in homes with another dog.

While stricter dog laws have been applauded by animal rights activities, many of the problems associated with puppy mills continue to exist, said Lombardo. She urged area residents to do research before buying a dog and to work with a reputable breeder.

"Please, do not go to a farm in Lancaster County to buy a puppy," she said. "These are often puppy mills in disguise, and this is a scenario that people want to avoid."

While puppy mills exist to breed dogs quickly, a reputable breeder can provide health clearances for both puppy and parents and will have a better understanding of the breed's temperament, needs and health risks. Breeders will also ask questions about the dog's future home, making sure that potential owners have the ability and time to care for the dog.

"If they ask you no questions, then they don't care what happens to that puppy," she said.

This might mean that an equal amount of care went into choosing the dog's parents and living environment.

Only puppy mills will have puppies readily available, she added. Breeders will place eligible people on a waiting list and call when a litter is ready to be adopted.

"If you want a purebred, you need to go to a reputable breeder," she stressed. "If you don't want to go through the process of working with a breeder, go to a shelter and adopt.

"People think that they're getting a deal at puppy mills, and that they don't need a show dog or a dog with health clearances but they do. You want to find a person who cares about that puppy. If not, all we're doing is propagating puppy mills."

She gestured toward the abandoned dogs, all here as a result of puppy mills, being prepped for surgery.

"I think of this as a gift to the dogs, so that they can get their second chance," she said.