Posts Tagged ‘animal rescue’

Wordless Wednesday #183 – Foster Dog Maggie

April 16, 2014 9 comments

The Dog That Was Not There – A Look Back

August 22, 2013 15 comments

DSC00449Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy first came to live with me.  Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she came to live with me. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.

I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward.  The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.

This post is from August 20, 2010, almost 4  years after Daisy first came to live with me.

People have always commented to me how lucky Daisy is to have me, how I’m such a ‘good mom’, but the truth is there was a time when living with Daisy felt more like I was living in a house with no dog at all. And, it made me question why I had adopted her at all.

I’m not going to lie. I like to feel connected to my dogs. I like that they seek affection from me. That they want to lay by my side while I watch TV or read a good book. I like that they get excited when we go for a trip to the dog park or when I come home.

Daisy was not one of those dogs. She was emotionally distant. Fearful. Restrained. Reserved. Dis-Connected.

I could not expect her to wag her tail when she saw me. I got that from my dog Aspen. I never expected her to come to me for a pet. My dog Aspen did that. I would never have expected her to hang out with me on the couch while I watched TV. Aspen did that.

At the time I adopted Daisy, Aspen was my only dog. She was affectionate, funny, enthusiastic, loving, sweet, gentle, kind, and excited about life, and she was “my dog.” She made my days brighter. I looked forward to seeing her when I got home from work because I knew that she would want to hang out with me. I loved taking her on walks because she loved them so. I loved to watch her hook her head over the arm of the couch to see what I was doing in the kitchen. Aspen was everything Daisy was not.

That’s why Aspen’s death, so soon after I adopted Daisy, hit me so hard. For some people, having a second dog is a comfort when they lose another. For me, it felt like I was all alone. There was no dog to distract me from my grief when I cried. There was no dog there to greet me when I got home or to show excitement when we went for car rides, or to just hang out on the couch with me. All I had was an empty shell of a dog. One who preferred her kennel to being in the same room with me. She was like a ghost, flitting from room to room, unable to communicate, unable to connect, unable to emote any kind of emotion at all. It was sad and lonely place to be.

IMG_2710What I never expected was that slowly, over time, Daisy would become the most special and wonderful dog I’ve ever had. She touched me more than I ever thought she could. Without Aspen as her guide, Daisy had to rely upon me for guidance. She had to interact with other dogs, study them, mimic them, and find her own identity. She started to trust me and seek me out. She looked to me as her protector and I took that job seriously – I still do. Tail wags? I get them from Daisy all of the time now. Seeking affection, pets and belly rubs? Yup. Daisy wants attention, pets and belly rubs all of the time now. Hanging out on the couch? Daisy does that too, on occasion. She still prefers her kennel, but she’s not tied to it. She is just as happy to lie next to me on the couch or to jump onto my bed for a belly rub. And, she has a smile now. I love that smile.

Is she still fearful? Absolutely. But, every day she surprises me and proves that she can overcome her fears and be the dog she was meant to be. She’s finding her inner Lab and I love that. And, I love her… very much.


A look back – Daisy’s everywhere!

August 7, 2013 19 comments
Daisy at the dog park

Daisy at the dog park

Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy first came to live with me.  Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she came to live with me. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.

I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward.  The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.

This post is from January 21, 2009, a little over 2 years after Daisy first came to live with me.

Daisy had a surprise guest this week. Her friend, Daisy Mae (a black Lab), came to stay for a couple of days while her “Mommie” had a little baby boy.

It’s been awhile since my Daisy and I had seen Daisy Mae. They girls first met about a year ago at the Alimagnet dog park in Burnsville. Her mom and I started talking after realizing that our dogs had the same name and then realized that both our dogs came from Minnesota Valley Humane Society. Who knew that her Daisy Mae was the same dog I had walked at the shelter as a young pup?

She has grown quite a bit since I last saw her, but it was obvious that she was very happy in her new home. Her parents really love her and spend a lot of quality time with her. She goes to the dog park once a day (sometimes twice a day), and she gets plenty of walks and belly rubs. She’s a well-rounded dog – good with humans and other dogs.

I was pleased to see that Daisy was happy to see Daisy Mae. She seemed pretty comfortable with her. This past summer, when Daisy Mae and her mom had come to spend the day with us (gardening) Daisy was quite nervous. She spent most of her time sitting right by my side. Of course, I encouraged her to go play but she would only wander a few feet and then come back and sit next to me. She does that when she’s nervous.

It was with great relief that I saw how she was to see her old friend. In fact, they got along extremely well together. They hung out at the dog park, searched for treats in the snow together (a game they both love to play) and slept on the couch together. It reminded me of when Aspen was alive.

Daisy used to looked to Apsen for guidance on how to be a dog. Aspen set the tone for everything: jumping on the couch, taking a nap, hanging out in the backyard, riding in the car, going to the pet store, approaching strangers, etc. Daisy really relied on her for guidance and direction.

That’s why I have toyed with the idea of getting another dog – one that is older, and more experienced, in living with humans. I’m constantly asking myself whether I am helping Daisy or hurting her by not getting her another friend. Part of me thinks that her rehabilitation would be much easier on her if I were to get another dog, but the other part of me is worried that making the wrong choice could be devastating for her.

Watching her with Daisy Mae made me realize that there is no easy answer to my questions. While Daisy enjoyed having a companion around for a few days, she also spent some time hanging out in her kennel (her “safe spot”). Whenever Daisy Mae would bark at a noise or get interested in a bone Daisy had Daisy would get nervous.

It’s nice to have Daisy’s everywhere, but it’s also making me wonder even more…Should i get another dog for Daisy? Or, should I let her be an only dog?

The question remains unanswered…for now.

Rescues – Do you have a plan for finding your lost dogs?

June 3, 2013 12 comments

Lost not stray v2When Cupcake (known as Lady back then) went missing in late 2011, I was lucky. No. Not lucky because she disappeared. Lucky because I had a an experienced rescue behind me, supporting me, all along the way.

Minnesota Sheltie Rescue knew just what to do to help bring Cupcake back. They knew that flyers were the most successful way to get the word out. They knew that signs and using a call service like Find Toto were also successful in getting more eyes looking for her. They knew how to mobilize a whole group of people to help spread the word. And, they made to tell me to get some rest so I would be there when Cupcake needed me most.  To say they are an awesome rescue would be an understatement.

I wish every rescue offered their new adopters and  foster parents the kind of support Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) offered to Cupcake and I. Unfortunately, I think MNSR is the exception and not the norm.

I get it. Rescues are busy. They’re saving lives. They are short-staffed and often run on a shoestring budget. They don’t have the time or the money or the staff to plan for the eventual loss of a dog within their care. But, they should.

If I had my wish, I would ensure that every rescue had a clear plan for:

How a dog or cat will be transported to its new home or foster home (grabbing them off the back of a transport truck is not a plan).

Lost Dogs of MN has a great list of tips on how to avoid losing a dog during transport. Every rescue should consider implementing them immediately. They should also consider making it the standard policy for how dogs are transported to and from their foster and adoptive homes.

What a potential adopter or foster parent needs to know to keep their new pet safe in the first few days after they bring them home.

  • New adopters and foster parents should avoid taking their new dog anywhere besides their home. They should be told to avoid the overwhelming desire to stop off at the pet store for supplies or a dog park, where they are likely to get into trouble or get lost.
  • They should let the dog get used to its new environment and hold off on taking walks through the neighborhood that first week.
  • Entrances and exits should be protected to ensure a dog cannot bolt out the door unexpectedly.
  • Double-leashing a dog or buying a harness for their new dog should be recommended so if the dog becomes frightened unexpectedly, they are not able to run away.
  • Encourage new owners and fosters to take lots of pictures of their new dog (or cat). They should have a frontal view and one with them standing.

What to do when a dog goes missing.

  • Flyers, flyers, flyers. Do I need to say it again? Flyers. Rescues need to have a template ready and waiting to go so when a dog does go missing they are not scrambling to put one together or leaving it up to the adopter or foster to do it. The number one thing that should be on that flyer is a place to put the dog’s picture and contact information, followed by the words “Do Not Chase.”
  • Contact all the veterinarians and shelters within the immediate area. Let them know about the missing dog, provide them with a description and contact information. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Create a calling tree within the rescue. Identify where all of your volunteers are located and let them know they may be alerted if a dog in their area goes missing. Make sure they know what to do next. (Did I mention flyers?)
  • Post the missing dog on their Facebook page using the lost dog flyer. Ask people to help. Ask them to print out copies and pass them out in the area the dog was lost. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Post the missing dog on Craigslist. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Make sure all your volunteers, and anyone helping to find the dog, knows what to do when they see the dog. Not sure what to do? I shared a great video two weeks ago week (The best advice for capturing a lost dog) that I think every rescue should watch.
  • Document each sighting on a Google Map. Learn how to use one. They can be your best opportunity to tracking the dog and understanding its pattern of movement. Lost dogs often retrace their route, so understanding a dog’s movements is key.
  • Set up feeding stations to keep the dog in that area. This will make it much easier to capture the dog if or when you decide to place a trap.
  • Have a live trap in your custody and ready to go.  Don’t have one? Find out who rents them out. Sometimes police departments or rental companies will have one you can borrow or rent. Other rescues are a great resource as well.
  • When a dog is trapped. Avoid the temptation to let them out and leash them while you are at the location. Carry the trap to a safe and enclosed area before letting the dog out. Trust me. You don’t want to lose the dog before you can get them to a safe place.

Lost Dogs-MN has some really great tips for finding lost dogs and an action plan for finding a lost dog. I encourage rescues to take a look and consider making them a part of their plan.

I know having a plan is not an easy thing for rescues to do, but what benefit is there in saving a dog from death row if they get lost after being rescued?  Please. Keep them safe. And, when the inevitable happens and a dog is lost, have a plan for how you will find them again.

Cupcake and I thank you.

Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion (in pictures)

April 15, 2013 8 comments

What has become one of my favorite events of the year was held this past weekend – the annual Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion. What a day!

Adopted Shelties came from far and wide to spend their Saturday afternoon with us (one group even came down from Fargo, ND!). It was so wonderful to see so many of the Shelties that have been adopted this past year, and in years past. I loved seeing some of the same people I had first met in the adoption process now with their new dogs and looking so happy.

The attendance was amazing this year. Probably one of the largest attendance crowds ever!

The day was chock full of things to do, including Sheltie games where dogs and owners could compete for prizes in the shell game, peanut butter lick off contest, pooch a smooth, egg walk and agility activities. Attendees could also get their professional pictures done, Ask the Trainer a training question, get a massage for their doggie and Speak with an Animal Communicator. There was an auction with some pretty awesome items up for bidding (I nabbed the cutest Sheltie flag on a pole that can be stuck in my garden.) and people could purchase fun games for their pups from Dog Prodigy and homemade jerky treats from Four Paws Gourmet  or find out more about Top Dog Country Club, our sponsor for the event.

But the highlight of the day was the Sheltie Parade. So many Shelties took the walk with their new families. It was great to see them so happy. I saw a lot of pride and joy on Saturday as Shelties pranced  alongside their owners.

I thought I would share just a few highlights of the day with you. I have to give full credit to my friend Cindy Dahl Smith for the majority of these pictures. I forgot my camera and all I had was my iPhone (all the fuzzy pictures are mine). Thanks Cindy!

Lots of happy faces at the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion on Saturday.

Lots of happy faces at the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion on Saturday.

Adorable Adoptable, Izzy, had a lovely time meeting everyone

Adorable Adoptable, Izzy, had a lovely time meeting everyone

Sheltie Thundershirt

Sheltie parents could buy Thundershirts for their pals


Joey was happy to watch all the excitement from his mom's lap.

Joey was happy to watch all the excitement from his mom’s lap.

Owen was happy to perform his tricks for treats

Owen was happy to perform his tricks for treats

MNSR Auction

MNSR Auction

Lots of dog parents went home with dog treats for their pooch

Lots of dog parents went home with dog treats for their pooch



Egg walk

Egg walk


The Sheties in the Sheltie Parade

The Sheties in the Sheltie Parade







When did you KNOW that your dog was “the one?”

February 27, 2013 38 comments

The first time I saw Jasper, it was here…

Jasmine and Jasper

He was in impound with his sister, waiting to be examined by one of our vet techs before being fostered or put up for adoption. I fell in love with his handsome little face right then (I also fell in love with his sister). I practically begged to foster them…just for a little while. But I should have known then,  he wouldn’t be leaving. He was home the moment he walked through my door.



The first time I saw Daisy, she was cowering in a kennel much like the one Jasper was in. She was terrified as hell and my heart broke when I saw how she cowered and flinched when people came near her. I knew then that I would foster her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I worried someone inexperienced would adopt her and place her in a situation where she could be further damaged.

But it wasn’t until two weeks later, when I picked her up after being spayed, that I knew that she was mine. Her vulnerability drew me in and captured my heart. She needed me. She needed someone who understood her. There was no way I would give her up to someone who didn’t understand her needs for space, time and patience. She was home.

Cupcake was different. She had already been living in a foster home and was more than likely going to be adopted soon. Besides, I had already had a talk with myself about how I would not be falling in love with her. Two dogs was more than enough thank you. I couldn’t possibly take on another. I was sure she would be moving on to her forever home soon and then I would foster yet another dog in need of help.

But then, one fateful night, she went missing, and I was distraught. I was a complete wreck. I imagined all sorts of awful things happening to her. I worried she would be killed by a coyote or would starve to death or be hit by a car. It wasn’t until she was found and finally started to recognize me again that I started to have an inkling that she would be staying.  At that very moment when she recognized me and sighed and leaned into me, I knew. There was no way Cupcake would be leaving my home to go to another. She already was home. She had been all along. I think she knew before I did.

I suspect that most everyone has had that moment, the one where  you just KNOW that this dog is “the one.” With each of my dogs it was different. Jasper was love at first sight (he had me at “Hello”). With Daisy it was much more gradual. It started as a strong sense of responsibility towards a dog in need and slowly grew into something much, much more. With Cupcake, it took a traumatic event to make me realize how much I loved her. Like I said, I think she knew she was home before I did.

So what was your moment? When did you KNOW that your dog was “the one?” Was it love at first sight? Or, did it take time to bond? I would love to hear your story.

Cupcake, a.k.a. Cuppers, a.k.a. Cupperdoo

Cupcake, a.k.a. Cuppers, a.k.a. Cupperdoo

What do you think? Can an animal shelter also breed and sell puppies?

January 29, 2013 57 comments

PugRecently, a friend shared a website with me that left both of us pretty disturbed. As animal welfare advocates we often see and hear things that can be pretty disturbing – puppy mills, animal abuse, animal neglect, etc. but this was one that seemed pretty wrong, at least on the surface.

It left us asking a lot of questions, including:

  • How can a rescue or shelter claim to be saving dogs when it is breeding dogs and selling their puppies?
  • How does a rescue or shelter legitimize the fact that they are selling dogs when there are so many dogs already in sitting in shelters needing to be rescued?
  • If a rescue or shelter breeds dogs and sells their puppies, can they really be a rescue or shelter?
  • Can a breeder claim to be a rescue or shelter, but really just be a front for selling dogs?
  • How can a rescue or shelter breed a 7-year-old dog and still be considered a shelter or rescue?
  • How can a state allow a breeder to be registered as a no-kill shelter too? Isn’t that some sort of state law loophole?

I can’t help but think something is wrong here. It doesn’t pass the smell test. But, I thought I would let you, the reader, weigh in and share what you think. Below are some screen shots of the website in question. I would love your thoughts on this.

What do you think? Is this a puppy mill or a shelter? Or is it a breeder masquerading as a shelter?


Their Mission Statement begins with…

These are the quality that Have a Heart dog homes has to improve and care for the homeless and unwanted of the No-Kill shelter that they live on.

The breeding and puppies that come from these AKC dogs pay to build buildings, pay  large electric bills and fence the 10 acres that is needed for all that are here.

Golden Barns

They also say “This shelter has no choice but to breed some to support the many that never leave.”

Their puppies are sold on and Next Day Pets (Next Day Pets is a well-known website for selling puppies. Many puppy millers use this site to sell their puppies.)

Golden Barns

There were only 3 dogs listed on their Adopt a Dog page. Here are two of them.

Golden Barns

Golden Barns

The majority of the website was focused on the breeder dogs and their puppies, including 7-year-old Angelique (who just had her last litter) and Cabella (no age given).

Golden Barns

Golden Barns

Golden Barns

Clicking on the Breeders tab provides you with some additional information:

We will have more Goldendoodles and Golden Retriever puppies
in the spring.
Please call or email to reserve.

Also puppies seen on and Next

AKC bred Standard Poodle puppies ready now.

Golden Barns

Although the site had a spot for you to Adopt a Cat, it appears there were no cats available – yet.

Golden Barns

Their Happy Adoptions page features quite a few customer comments, but it appears many of the “adoptions” are puppies from the breeder dogs. In fact, I couldn’t find one picture of an adopted dog that wasn’t a Golden Retriever, Goldendoodle or Poodle – all puppies and all the same breed or breeds as the breeder dogs.

Golden Barns

According to their About Us page they “are now licensed per state laws as a No-Kill with breeders through the DATCP.” which is the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Is it possible that they would provide a breeder with a shelter license? It seems so. Their last inspection was just this past month.

Saying Thanks

November 22, 2012 26 comments

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. It’s a time to pause and reflect. A time to feel gratitude for all that we have in our lives. For some, it might not be much, but for all of us there is at least one thing we can all be grateful for in our lives, whether it be a our children, our pets, our friends and family.

I am thankful for quite a lot this year. I have a job, a house, three lovely dogs (safely at home and not wandering throughout Eagan), a wonderful family and some really awesome friends.

I am also feeling grateful for all of you, my new friends, who have added so much to my life. You laugh with me, cry with me, question me, challenge me and support me. You also share your very own personal stories – many of which have moved me to tears. When I started this blog it was to share information with my pet sitting and dog walking clients. I never expected it to become a place to make friends. To have such wonderful people like you reading my words (as good or bad as they may be some days) is something I never expected. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, but above all for sharing your very own stories. I love reading them.

As I was thinking about what I wanted to say this Thanksgiving Day, I realized that there were two groups of people I wanted to say THANKS to this year.

To the volunteers and staff with Minnesota Sheltie Rescue I say thank you for all you do. Thank you Karen, Estelle, Susan, Mary, Heather, Cindy, Francine, Pat, Kathy, Judy, all the foster parents and volunteers I may have missed. Most people don’t realize all that is involved in saving dog’s lives, but I do – transporting, vetting, fostering, conducting home visits, calling potential adopters, answering inquiries from people wanting to surrender their dogs, helping people with lost Shelties,  – you do all of this and more. Thank you! (A special thank you to Estelle and Susan who spent their Thanksgiving last year helping me find Cupcake. I hope you actually get to enjoy your holiday this year!)

To the volunteers and staff at Animal Folks MN,thank you for your continued work and dedication to bringing attention to the puppy mill situation in our state. Nancy and Ann – you have worked tirelessly to bring about change in Minnesota. We may not have the most puppy mills in this state, but we do have some of the largest facilities in the country. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication in leading the charge to change how breeding dogs and cats are treated in this state. Daisy thanks you too!


May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. May the blessings be great and the connections deep.

One more puppy miller bites the dust

October 30, 2012 22 comments

Sometimes the tide turns in a dog’s favor.

For 161 Malamutes in Montana it took a while for that tide to turn, but turn it did.

On October 18, 2012, the owner of the dog breeding facility (i.e., puppy mill) in which these dogs were kept, Mike Chilinski, was convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty.

According to Jefferson County district attorney Mathew Johnson said the dogs were “were in serious poor health from lack of adequate nutrition”. Four veterinarians testified during the trial and said most of the dogs were severely underweight, and had scars and parasites.

I can’t help but be happy on behalf of the dogs that suffered and/or died under his care. Here in Minnesota, we are lucky to get an animal cruelty conviction for dogs suffering under similar conditions. Let’s face it the laws suck here.

That’s right. I’m not mincing my words today.

A many of you know, it is my never-ending plea that people stop buying puppies from pet stores or over the internet. I have shared the following information over the past few years, but it bears sharing again.

USDA-licensed does NOT mean they are not a puppy mill. 

Mike Chilinski does not appear to have been a USDA-licensed breeder, but that is not too surprising these days. Most puppy millers are choosing to forgo the USDA license to avoid inspections. Without the USDA license they cannot sell to pet stores, but they CAN sell over the internet as Mr. Chilinski did.

“This case should open people’s eyes to the fact that even people who advertise alleged ‘show-quality’ dogs may actually be operating puppy mills,” she said. “It’s easy to hide the truth behind a professional-looking website that seems to say all the right things.” (Gina Wiest, executive director of the Lewis and Clark Humane Society)

Having a dog with an AKC certification means nothing. Puppy mill dogs can also be AKC certified.

“Being a breeder that often breeds over seven litters a year puts me automatically on a list for AKC inspections,” he said under oath. “Having had two recent inspections by AKC representative Gene Brennan, I felt confident I was obeying all laws and the stricter AKC rules. The police were aware of the fact the AKC had inspected me because I often would remind them that the expert from AKC had found no health or care issues.” (testimony of Mike Chilinski)

Responsible dog breeders do not sell their dogs to pet stores or over the internet

“I have shipped dogs for 30 years and have never had an incident. I have dogs in Australia and on every continent.”(testimony of Mike Chilinski)

Puppy mills are cruel and horrible places where dogs are kept in deplorable conditions because it’s not about the dogs, it’s about the money.

Bill and Carole Peterson of Nye,  provided a deputy with photos of what they suspected of being a puppy mill. The couple went to the residence in mid-September to purchase a Malamute puppy and say they were horrified by the conditions of the dogs, which were living in kennels full of feces with little to no water. (Puppy mill and illegal pot operation busted in Jefferson City, Independent Record, 10/14/2011)

I found it a bit ironic that Mr. Chilinski was convicted without the USDA Proposed Rule Change being in place since he was opposed to it. You can see his name signed here (petitioner #2509):

Mike Chilinski - Petition to INvestigate USDA Proposed Rule Change

His comment on the petition?

Mike Chilinski - Petition Against Proposed USDA Rule

I’m guessing he still feels his 3rd amendment rights were violated, but it didn’t take the USDA to convict him, just his own cruelty caught on film. One more puppy mill closed down.

Don’t shop, Adopt.

Don’t buy over the internet, Adopt.

An update on the Malamutes rescued last October:

The dogs are now being transitioned to the care of Malamute rescue groups around the country who have offered help in placing the dogs in permanent homes. Lewis and Clark Humane Society says that the finalization of the adoption process will have to wait until after sentencing, in  about two to three weeks.

Potential adopters can email the American Malamute Assistance League (AMAL) at to get on a list to adopt one of the malamutes.

Puppy Mills: Why is the number 60% so important?

October 7, 2012 14 comments

Last week I wrote about the minimum size requirements for puppy mill kennels. The key number in that post was “6″ – as in the 6 inches of additional kennel space your dog is allowed in a USDA-licensed breeder’s facility.

This week I would like to share a new number with you. This number came to me courtesy of Animal Folks MN – an excellent resource for finding out more on puppy mills and the puppy mill bills and laws in the state of Minnesota.

The number? 60%

As in….

60% of the USDA-licensed breeders and brokers in MN have dropped their USDA license over the past 6 years. 

You might be asking yourself, “Why does that number matter?” or “Why should I care?”

Let me go back to something I wrote at the bottom of my post from last week:

Many mill owners like to tout their USDA license with unsuspecting buyers to give them an air of legitimacy. Don’t buy it. “USDA licensed” does not equal “responsible breeder”. Having a USDA license only means the puppy miller is required to meet certain minimum care standards. Puppy millers who sell over the internet do not have to be USDA-licensed (as of today). They are not subject to any minimum care standards at all. This is why we are seeing more and more puppy millers moving their business to an internet-based one. As sellers of puppies over the internet, puppy millers are not subject to USDA inspection, nor do they have to follow any minimum care instructions when it comes to their dogs.

When 60% of Minnesota’s USDA-licensed breeders and brokers drop their USDA license, people should take notice. This is not some arbitrary statistic, especially when Minnesota used to be in the top ten list for USDA-licensed breeders. This is a warning shot across the bow. This is a sign of what is to come. This is where the puppy mill business is going in Minnesota and throughout the United States. As dog lovers, we should all be worried.

In the past, much of the drive to stop puppy mills has been focused on stopping pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies. But, as the public has gotten more educated about the pet store-puppy mill connection, pet stores are finding it harder to sell their pups. Many are closing down or switching to hosting adoption events in place of selling puppies. This leaves puppy mill operators in the precarious position of trying to sell enough puppies to make a profit. Turning to the internet is the most a logical choice.

How convenient that there are very few, if any, state or federal regulations around the internet sales of puppies. As consumers, we all need to be aware.

Puppy mills who only sell over the internet:

  • Are not subject to any minimum care standards for the dogs they breed (unless they happen are in a state with strong breeder laws on the books – good luck on that one.).
  • Ship sick puppies to unsuspecting dog lovers who assume they are working with a “responsible” breeder. (Nothing could be further from the truth.)
  • Ship underage puppies.  (A responsible breeder will not ship a puppy and certainly not one that is under 8 weeks old. In many cases they will even wait until they are 9-12 weeks old.)
  • Will ask for a deposit before they ship and then never send the puppy at all.
  • Ship the wrong puppy or the wrong breed puppy to unsuspecting buyers.
  • Sell to anybody for any reason. (They do not care who buys their dogs because it’s not about the dogs, it’s about the money).
  • Sometimes import sick puppies from other countries and represent them as their own. (You can see more information on this at

A puppy miller that drops their USDA license to avoid inspection is not someone I would ever want to trust with the care of my future puppy. How about you?

Please spread the word:

Every puppy someone purchases over the internet is a vote to support puppy mills.

Every puppy purchased over the internet is supporting puppy millers who are not subject to minimum care standards for their dogs.

Every decision made to buy a puppy from one of these places is supporting a cruel practice of keeping dogs in cages, with wire bottoms, and six inches to spare.

My continued thanks to Animal Folks and Animal Folks MN for always keeping me, and many other Minnesotans, updated on what is going on in our state. While the statistic I shared in this post is a horrible one, I am grateful for your continued work to educate the public and influence change in our state.

If you can donate money to help Animal Folks, please do. They are a small organization that is doing really big work. They have already researched many breeding facilities in Minnesota and have pictures and stories to share with you and our legislators, but they can only continue their work if you help. Don’t have a lot of money? How about $5? Every dollar counts.

Here is how Animal Folks MN will use your money:

  • conduct research (gather photos, stories, affidavits and documents to illustrate the problem);
  • file complaints against dog and cat breeders where animal neglect or abuse is suspected; and
  • educate authorities and the public throughout Minnesota about problematic dog and cat breeding.

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