Dozens of dogs found trapped in cages, shoved in dresser drawers and even in a bathtub have been transported to a Montreal shelter after police uncovered a suspected puppy mill inside a dilapidated Quebec home.

Quebec provincial police said 70 dogs were seized and four found dead inside a house in St-Gabriel-de-Brandon, about 120 kilometres northeast of Montreal, on Wednesday.

Police said there were a variety of small breeds found on every floor, including Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and Maltese. Curiously, officials say many of the dogs were marked with blue and yellow paint.

The stench inside the home was so bad that local firefighters equipped with gas masks were called in to help investigators.

Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon Fire Chief Frederic Cyr said that in his 25 years on the job, it’s the first time he’s seen “a puppy mill like this one.”

“There was an overwhelming smell of dog urine and feces. It really pierced through everything,” Cyr told CTV Montreal.

The dogs have been moved to the Montreal SPCA. They are not ready for adoption.

Eloise Cossette, a spokesperson for the Surete de Quebec, said police are convinced that the dogs they found were intended for sale.

Police said they launched a fraud investigation after allegations emerged that some dog owners were given falsified vaccination certificates.

When investigators arrived at the home, police say they found the dogs and arrested a 44-year-old woman.

Police said the woman will face charges of fraud and forging documents and could also be charged with animal cruelty.

The woman has since been released from custody, and the home was declared unfit to live in.

Neighbours told CTV Montreal they never heard any barking come from the house.

Quebec has a troubled history with puppy mills, and the province has been called the puppy mill capital of North America.

Legislators have taken steps to crack down on the problem. In 2015, Quebec unanimously passed a law defining animals as sentient beings and toughening punishments for animal cruelty.

Fines now range from $250 up to $250,000, and serial violators can face up to 18 months in jail.

With files from CTV Montreal and The Canadian Press