Sheila Stogsdill

SENECA, Mo. - A 175- pound Bengal tiger was among the hundreds of animals seized at a Missouri puppy mill on Thursday near the Oklahoma border.

Bond’s Kennel is located two miles north of Seneca on the Ottawa County line. Authorities seized over 200 small full-breed dogs and anticipated rescuing efforts would continue into the evening and Friday.

The Newton County Sheriff department confirmed the owner, Jewell Bond, has not been arrested nor in custody.

The Humane Society of Missouri said in a prepared statement the types of dogs seized were Chihuahuas, Boston terriers, miniature pinschers, Lhasa apsos, Pomeranians, Westies, huskies, chow chows and shar-peis.

The longhaired breeds appear to have matted, overgrown hair and approximately 30 of the dogs are puppies and about four are pregnant, said Katie Zeidman, agency spokeswoman.

The animals’ wire-bottom cages were observed to be covered with feces and urine with no visible food and their water was frozen, she said.

The state agency reported that in January 2006 the USDA levied $10,000 worth of fines for multiple violations within the Animal Welfare Act against the kennel.

In July 2007 the state seized 150 dogs from the property and sold them at a private auction, the agency reported.

The proceeds were given to the owner and no charges were filed, according to the statement.

The malnourished Bengal tiger was found in an outdoor 12-by-15-foot cage with dirt floors behind the kennel, said Dr. Ben Leavens, a veterinarian and owner of Main Street Pet Care in Joplin.

“The tiger should have weighed about 400 pounds,” Leavens said. Leavens said that the kennel, which has been operational for about 30 years, was being operated without a license.

Studies show that northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri have 10 times more kennels than any other part of the county.

“This (kennel) represents just one or two percent of the breeders in the area,” Leavens said.

Leavens said it will two weeks before the dogs can be available for adoption.

The tiger’s cage was covered with feces and there was an inadequate amount of dog food thrown into the pen along with a couple of possums, he said.

The Newton County Sheriff’s department confirmed dog corpses were also found in the tiger cage.

The female tiger is believed to be around 9 years old and has been with the kennel owner since it was a cub, Leavens said.

After the tiger was sedated, Leavens said he noticed the tiger had several health issues, including boils on its paws from standing in urine and feces.

“They said they were afraid of the tiger,” Leavens said, referring to the kennel owners.

The tiger also seemed to be suffering from wounds, but Leavens said he was not sure of their origins.

The tiger is currently under the care of the Springfield. Mo., zoo and will be transported to the World Tiger Sanctuary in St. Louis, Leavens said.