Animal workers suspect a puppy mill was to blame for the 149 dogs seized from a Waterford residence by the Hamilton Burlington SPCA Friday.

Investigators are not yet releasing any details but Nancy McGugan of Found Friends Adoptions, a volunteer cat rescue agency in Norfolk County, said it’s likely the dogs were from a backyard breeder.

"In my opinion, this is obviously a puppy mill and it was going on right under our noses," she said.

McGugan is helping to collect donations in Norfolk and deliver them to the HBSPCA, but she said it’s time the area had an SPCA of its own.

"We need an officer we can report to that can respond right away, not three months later," she said. "If we’re going to be calling the HBSPCA, Norfolk County should be paying them."

The HBSPCA removed 149 small-breed dogs from what officials describe as "deplorable conditions," on Friday as the result of an investigation that began in the summer.

In July, Norfolk OPP received a complaint about the animals’ living conditions, according to Const. Ed Sanchuk.

"When we receive a complaint, we investigate ourselves and if we need further assistance, we contact the SPCA," Sanchuk explained.

The Norfolk OPP did contact the HBSPCA following its investigation. The dogs were seized on Friday, but SPCA investigations and communications officer Brad Dewar would not say whether they had investigated the location at any other time between July and October.

Sanchuk could provide few details, due to the ongoing investigation.

"I can say that these dogs were in poor living conditions."

The number of dogs seized "is overwhelming," said Vivian LaFlamme, an inspector at the HBSPCA.

The investigation is ongoing and the agency is unable to release many details, LaFlamme said.

"I can say it was a cruelty investigation of a large scale and the age and sex of the animals were varied."

The seizure comes at a time when the agency is already overcapacity with the number of animals currently in their care.