DOTHAN, Ala. — Animal advocates are complaining about the Dothan Police Department’s plan to auction off about 60 dogs seized from a suspected puppy mill in March, calling the sale exploitative and against the best interest of the dogs.

“You wouldn’t auction off children who had been abused, would you?” said Theresa Bryan-Watts.

Dothan police seized 65 dogs and 16 exotic birds from the home of Le Ngoc Pham and Hoan Cong Nguyen after receiving information that animals were kept in deplorable conditions. Pham and Nguyen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in August and forfeited ownership of the animals.

The Dothan Eagle reports the department intends to auction the dogs at an event called Paws For A Cause on Sept. 28 at the Dothan Civic Center. Money raised from the event will go toward building a new animal shelter in Dothan, where the current facility is old and often floods during rainy weather.

Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish said he has received many calls from people expressing interest in the animals, and an auction would provide local residents with a fair shot at getting an animal.

Amanda Grantham, an Atlanta attorney who works with Georgia Bulldog Rescue, said her organization offered to take any bulldogs seized by police. Grantham said her organization carefully screens adopters to make sure they understand the needs of bulldogs and to ensure that they would be responsible owners.

Parrish said city employees have worked with the dogs being auctioned to help ensure they were well-socialized. Parrish said people who purchase dogs will have to sign an agreement stating they will allow site visits from city officials to ensure the dogs are being properly cared for.

“We’re doing everything with the dogs’ best interests in mind,” he said.

Bryan-Watts said the idea of auctioning the dogs just doesn’t sit well with her. Animals that already been exploited are being exploited again, she said.