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Pet owners speak out after adopting sick animals from owner accused of running puppy mill

Kristen Bowles adopted a Maltese puppy over the weekend from Missy's Four Paws but says she quickly found out the puppy had serious health problems. (WCHS/WVAH)

As investigators continue to look into a suspected puppy mill being operated in Kanawha and Putnam Counties, families are speaking out after they say they adopted sick dogs from the owner.

Hope Bieber and Josh Welsh were new to Charleston but thought about expanding their family.

"I was that typical guy that just stopped to look at a puppy. It just happened to be Missy's Paws," Welsh says. They ended up coming home with Koko, a French Bulldog, but quickly learned after taking the puppy to a vet that Koko wasn't OK.

"We were then informed she has a stage 5 out of 6 heart murmur," Welsh says.

Koko also had the flu. Welsh says they confronted the owner and were offered a full refund but they declined, fearing the dog would be resold to another unsuspecting animal lover.

"She wasn't supposed to live past three months. She's a little over a year and a half now. She's loving life and everything, we take each day how it is," Welsh explains.

Welsh and Bieber weren't surprised to hear the news that more than 100 animals were seized from Missy's Four Paws in Nitro and Teays Valley, as well as from a home in Nitro, all owned by the same woman who is now accused of running a puppy mill.

"I didn't know any of this about her, obviously or I wouldn't have got a dog there," explains Kristen Bowles, who bought a Maltese puppy her family named Kyrie, for her son's birthday just this past weekend. She also soon found out that Kyrie had serious health problems and had to be taken to an emergency animal clinic.

"I wish I would have known this before. Everybody's like 'oh, yeah, I heard about her' and I'm like, 'well,I haven't.' And she said everything I wanted to hear. 'They come in and they check out my shops and I always pass. I give them the vaccines and you can bring them back for grooming, get their nails clipped,'" Bowles said the owner told her.

She says she also considered taking the puppy back but has decided not to knowing now what kind of conditions the dogs were said to be living in.

Investigators say criminal charges could be filed in both Kanawha and Putnam Counties and could be filed as early as Thursday.

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