Last Thursday the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) came out with their “Horrible Hundred” – one hundred puppy mills it feels need closer scrutiny by state and federal authorities (“A Horrible Hundred: 100 Problem Puppy Mills“).
These are not necessarily the worst puppy mills in the country, but they are indicative of many puppy mills who provide inadequate and substandard care. Most of these facilities have been repeatedly cited by federal and local officials and have at least 100 dogs or more, including one in Minnesota with 1,100 dogs. Yes. 1,100 breeding dogs.
Many, if not all, of these facilities sell their dogs at pet stores (and over the internet) all across the country. One of the four puppy mills listed for Minnesota has been found to have sold dogs in pet stores in Michigan, Chicago, Ohio and California.
Want to see if any from your state are listed? Go here.
You can read a more detailed report on each of these mills here.
So which puppy mills were on the list from Minnesota?
Carole and Larry Harries/ Harries K-9 Ranch – Alpha, MN
Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) investigated the Harries back in 2007 and called out issues with the wire mesh flooring, which allowed the dogs legs to slip through. They also documented dirty kennels, dirty water dishes, matted fur on several dogs, feces build up and up to 5 dogs per kennel in several kennels.
Apparently, not much has changed since 2007. In February 2013, the Harries were cited for a repeat violation by USDA inspectors for several dogs in need of veterinary care, including a shih tzu whose teeth were so rotted that the inspector could see the roots of her teeth, and two dogs with excessive matting around the tail with feces matted into the fur.
Ted Johnson / Funtime Kennels – Windom, MN
Ted appears to have a revolving door policy when it comes to his USDA licenses, often letting them lapse and then reapplying (maybe he couldn’t make it just selling over the internet or just trying to hide his business from people like me?). He has also had multiple violations at his kenneling facility.
Back in 2011, he was cited for failure to establish and maintain adequate veterinary care as is seen in this USDA inspection report.
In April 2013, USDA inspectors found two Maltese dogs his kennel that had such severe dental disease that they had lost most of their teeth. One of the dogs had only two teeth left, and one of her remaining two teeth “was loose and moved easily when touched.” The dog was seen “excessively licking its mouth with its tongue hanging out of its mouth most of the time,” according to the inspector. The USDA also noted that the ammonia (urine) smell in the facility “was strong enough to make the inspector’s eyes burn.”
John & Lyle Renner/ Renner’s Kennel – Detroit Lakes, MN
Renner’s Kennels have been cited multiple times for violations. This is one from 2004:
“One kennel that houses three golden retrievers (199, 176, 175) has an area of kennel wire that has turned inside the cage and the ends are poking out towards the dogs in the cage. Another kennel housing three huskies (238, 184, ?) has a pipe end that protrudes to the inside of the kennel that appears that the end of the pipe is sharp and may cause injury to the dogs.”
The most recent set of violations were received in January 2013, when they were “fined more than $5,000 by the USDA for repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act regulations.” Previous violations documented on USDA inspection reports include “dogs kept in small cages without the minimum required space; lack of proper cleaning and sanitization, violations for dogs needing vet care, including a husky who could not bear weight on his leg, a dog with a missing eye and discharge, dogs with swollen/oozing paws (common in puppy mills with wire flooring), dogs without adequate protection from extreme temperatures, strong odors and accumulations of feces.”
Wanda Kretzman / Clearwater Kennel Inc. – Cushing, MN (has 1,124 dogs as of February 2013)
According to Animal Folks MN, Wanda’s facility is THE LARGEST BREEDER/BROKER in MINNESOTA. She has over 1100 dogs and multiple violations covering several years, including violations for incomplete records, wire mesh floors that allow dogs’ feet to go through, not enough floor or head space in pens, and buildup of feces under kennels and in outdoor pens in 2006 (St Cloud Times, Mar 3, 2007) and violations in 2012 for seven dogs with bloody, inflamed and/or swollen feet, likely from straddling the painful wire flooring (HSUS, 100 Puppy Mills Report, May 2013).
Wanda’s puppy mill puppies have been sold in California, Chicago, Michigan and at dog auctions in Ohio. In an undercover video from the January 15, 2011 Farmerstown Dog Auction in Ohio, over 300 of the 504 dogs sold were from Clearwater Kennels (see the video below to learn more about dog auctions).
It’s hard not to see how this puppy mill ended up on the list is it?
Don’t see your state on the list? Chances are you will on a previous year’s report. HSUS has been highlighting some of these awful puppy mills for seven years now.
Want to stop puppy mills?
- Share with your friends. Pick just one person and educate them on where pet store and internet puppies come from and then ask them to share with just one friend. Spread the word.
- Send one tweet about puppy mills today.
- Post one story on Facebook today about puppy mills and let people know where pet store and internet puppies come from.
- Don’t buy puppies from pet stores or over the internet. Many puppy mills are turning to the internet to sell their dogs now because they are not required to have a USDA license nor are they subject to inspection.
- Get active. Write your legislator and ask him/her to support a law to tighten the standards of care for puppy mills.
Thanks to the media, celebrities, and numerous animal advocates, the message about pet stores, and the puppy mill dogs that supply them, is starting to reach people. More and more pet stores are being shut down or have stopped selling puppies. It’s encouraging to see the tides of change coming.
However, there is another front in the fight against puppy mills that people don’t often think about – the internet.
The internet is a relatively new marketplace for puppy mill owners, but they love it.
- It’s an easy way to sell their puppies. Create a website, tell a great story about how much you lovingly care for your puppies, post a few cute puppy pictures, and you’re in business.
- It also increases a puppy miller’s profit margins – no middle man to take a cut of the profits. They just ship the puppy directly to you.
- The other attractive feature in using the internet is that it’s safer than selling your puppies to pet stores. Online sellers of animals are not subject to USDA inspections. No licensing. No inspections. It’s a relatively safe way to hide those skeletons while preying upon the unwitting puppy lover.
What most people don’t realize is that puppy millers are some of the best grifters out there. They know how to build trust, tug on your heart-strings, and reassure you they are on the up-and-up, all in one phone conversation or email exchange.
The sweet stories they are telling you online is not what’s really going on behind the scenes – animal cruelty, abuse, starvation, minimal, if any, medical care, and no socialization for the dogs.
Using the internet allows them to fool you into thinking they are a wonderful family who breeds dogs because they love them so much. Of course, they will be sure to let you know all of their breeding dogs are “family dogs” and live inside with them as a member of their family. How sweet. How could you not trust someone like that?
It’s so easy for them to fool people.
One example came to light recently that I thought was worth sharing.
Example: Pedigree Pets
What a sweet little family. You can tell they care so much for their dogs and puppies. It’s so sweet that their grandchildren play with the puppies. And, I love how they “deliver each and every one of the puppies themselves.” I wonder how they do it with such loving care?
Oh wait. What happened here? A raid? 241 dogs seized? What happened to that nice little family with the grandchildren that loved to play with all their cute puppies? The puppies they personally delivered by hand?
I know it’s hard to believe, but that cute little family story puppy millers put on their website is just that, a story. Or, as I like to say… B.S. According to the sheriff, veterinarians and the Ohio SPCA, the dogs were starving, had no water and were in bad shape. At least those are the allegations. The owners plead Not Guilty today, so we will have to wait to see how many of the 723 charges they will be convicted on. I’ll leave you to check out the video of the raid on Pet-Abuse.com and make your own judgement.
Here is an excerpt of the story from Examiner.com:
Pedigree Pets was raided on Saturday, November 17, 2012 after an investigation by Deputy Cami Frey. Dogs and puppies were found living in horrid conditions and many were found to be ill, injured and emaciated. Several of the dogs had to be treated for wounds and infections.
The local sheriff that was involved in the raid on Pedigree Pets says it best…
Don’t be fooled by those cute little websites featuring cute little puppies with fanciful stories of their wonderful families and family life. Buying a puppy online is just as bad as buying from a pet store.
Please Don’t Shop (not online or in a pet store), Adopt.
My sincere thanks to the Ohio SPCA for their hard work in saving these dogs and in seeing to their immediate care. Pedigree Pet’s breeding dogs, and their puppies, are now in the care of 22 wonderful Ohio rescues. The money it costs to care for all these dogs is not a minimal amount. Many puppy mill dogs are sick, undernourished, full of worms and have eye and dental issues. This case is no different. I am listing all of the rescues here. If you an donate to help with the care for these puppy mill dogs, please do so. It takes a village to help these dogs. One dollar is more than nothing. Please give what you can.
Permission to share this photo was granted by the Ohio SPCA.
It was pretty unusual to see a Sheltie at our shelter back then. Not that we didn’t get one in once in a while, but it just wasn’t common. The fact that these two were 8 1/2 months old was even more unusual. Sheltie puppies? No way!
Of course, I didn’t know then how they had come to be there. Not until much later. They had both been “rescued” along with a cat from a pet store in Shakopee. The woman who bought them did so because she was so appalled by the conditions they were in that she couldn’t stand leaving them there. She offered the store owner a low sum of money for both Jasper and Jasmine and a cat, and he took it.
She immediately brought them to our shelter so they could receive treatment and be adopted. I wrote about fostering them in a post back in March 2009.
The reason I share this story with you is to back up a point made in a great blog post I read a while back. It was titled “What Happens to the Puppies?” In it, Brenda Nelson (the blogger) explored the common myths people have about what happens to pet store puppies.
If you haven’t already guessed by that great opening statement, let me tell you now, pet store puppies are not euthanized if no one buys them. They are also not shipped back to the “breeder” (and I use that term loosely). They are not dumped somewhere and left to fend for themselves either.
No. Puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores are left in the pet store window until they sell. Or they are shipped to another store where they may have a better chance of being sold. And there they will sit, waiting for that one person, that special someone, who wants to “save” them.
You see, pet stores rely on people to feel guilty. They rely on someone thinking “If I don’t take this puppy, it will be killed.” They rely on someone falling in love with the puppy before they find out that it is sick and will need expensive medical care. They want you to feel sympathy for that puppy in the window. They want you to feel like you are rescuing the puppy. Because by making the person feel like (the) pets’ life is in danger, pet stores force the person to make a rash decision, “Buy the puppy.”.
This is how puppy mill puppies are sold every day in America’s pet stores. It’s all about lies and fostering misperceptions. Pet stores who sell puppy mill puppies (and 99% of the puppies in pet stores ARE from puppy mills) will do and say anything to get you to buy that puppy in the window. Why? Because they know that once you buy it, you won’t be bringing it back, sick or not sick.
As I told you at the beginning of this piece, Jasper and Jasmine were 8 1/2 months old when I got them. They were puppies, but not young puppies. If they were like most puppy mill puppies, they were probably shipped to this particular pet store at 6-8 weeks old and then sat there for 6-6 1/2 months, waiting for someone to “rescue” them. And, someone did.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad she saved Jasper, his sister and the cat. They were living in horrible conditions in that pet store.
But, to Brenda’s point, they were not euthanized. They were not returned to the puppy mill owner. They were not dumped somewhere.
No. They were sold at a discounted price to someone willing to buy them to “save” them.
Please don’t buy into the guilt-fest that pet stores give you. Don’t buy a puppy from a pet store and thus force the parents to continue to live a life of torture, neglect and pain. Don’t help perpetuate the puppy mill trade.
Want to rescue a puppy? Adopt. Those are the ones who really WILL BE euthanized if you don’t “rescue” them.
Do you remember Daniel’s story?
Daniel was the dog who went into a gas chamber in Alabama and was still standing with his tail wagging when they opened the door. Because he survived the gas chamber he was given a chance at life. He was transported by Pilots N Paws to a rescue in New Jersey.
What a long way he has come since that story first hit the internet. Daniel now has a new family in New Jersey and several sisters and brothers to play with. He is also working to end the use of gas chambers to kill animals in the United States.
Who could have ever guessed that his survival would lead to such a wonderful ending? Or that it would motivate his owner, and others, to take action?
Daniel’s story made me realize how much my own dogs have changed my life.
When I chose to adopt Daisy, my Lab, I did it to protect her. I didn’t want her to go to a home or family that might not understand her special needs. Even with my limited skills and knowledge, I knew I could provide her with a better home than someone who had never had a dog before or who had never had a shy and fearful dog.
Never once did I think adopting Daisy would lead me to get educated about puppy mills or to share that knowledge with others. I never expected sharing Daisy’s story might help others with puppy mill dogs. She has changed my life and what is important to me. She motivated me to get involved.
Knowing Jasper came from similar circumstances only made me more motivated to learn more about the connection between the pet stores who sell puppies and the puppy mills that provide them. (Yes. 99% of all pet store puppies really do come from puppy mills.)
Lady changed my life too. Losing her for 12 days not only taught the importance of giving back and helping others (because lord knows I received an amazing amount off help and support while she was missing), but it also motivated me to want to share what I learned with others. Without Lady, I never would have gotten involved in helping people find their lost pets or sharing their missing pets’ pictures and stories with others.
I don’t know if you have had the same experience, but having Daisy, Jasper and Lady in my life has changed me. They have given me causes to rally around. They have motivated me to get involved in ways I never expected.
So I was wondering… How has your pet changed or motivated you? What have you done or gotten involved in as a result of your pet? I’d love to hear your story.
This week I am focusing on creating more awareness about puppy mills and pet stores. I welcome your input, thoughts, experiences, etc., but more than anything I would like to ask for your voice. Why? Because we need the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill (S.F. 462/H.F. 702) to pass. I need you to help me (and the many other individuals and groups who have been working on this legislation) to make this bill become a law. Without your voice, nothing will change in Minnesota. Unsuspecting pet owners will continue to buy cats and dogs from pet stores and have their hearts broken when their furry friend dies, or requires serious medical care. Breeder dogs, like Daisy, will continue to suffer, having more and more puppies until they can no longer breed, only to be killed (likely shot) to make room for the next breeding female. Puppy millers will continue to operate with little chance of being held to the humane standards afforded many pets in other states.
So how can you help? Choose to do just TWO of the actions below.
1. SIGN the petition supporting dog and cat breeder regulation in Minnesota.
2. TWEET this post to your friends and family and ask them to sign the petition and contact their Minnesota state legislator.
3. SHARE this post with your friends and family on Facebook and ask them to sign the petition and contact their Minnesota state legislator.
4. ASK your veterinarian and his/her vet techs to sign the petition in support of this bill. Ask them to indicate they are a vet or vet tech in the last box on the petition. (You can also contact Cheryl@animalfolksmn.org and she will mail you the petition forms and literature on the bill.) 217 vets and vet techs have already signed the petition. Let’s double those numbers!
5. SHARE your own story about buying a cat or dog or rescuing a puppy mill dog. I welcome any and all of your stories here, whether inside Minnesota or out, but if from Minnesota please do share it on the AnimalFolksMN site. These will be used to show legislators why there is a need for a law to regulate puppy mills.
6. CONTACT your own Minnesota State Senator and Representative
To find out who represents you, go to: MN District Finder
This link is easy to use. Just type in your address and zip code. It will list who represents you based on where you live. Please contact your State legislators – your MN House Representative and your MN Senator. Click on their names and you will be linked to their phone number, email and address.
NOTE: In addition to the bills’ authors, some legislators have already expressed their support publicly by co-authoring the bills. To find out if your legislator is a co-author, go to: Authors and Co-Authors
7. CONTACT Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
The bill must first pass through legislative committees and be voted on by the full House and Senate before it reaches the Governor to be signed into law. But we need the Governor to hear your voice now. Please contact Governor Mark Dayton and ask that he support S.F. 462/H.F. 702.
Governor Mark Dayton
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Email contact form: http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/
Governor Mark Dayton on Twitter
Governor Mark Dayton’s on Facebook.
WHAT TO WRITE:
If you call, you’ll most likely reach voicemail or speak with an aide or assistant. Just be yourself. Speak from the heart. Keep it short and respectful.
NOTE: S.F. 462 is the bill in the Senate. H.F. 702 is the bill in the House.
Example for Senator:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a constituent and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that my Senator ________________ (name) support S.F. 462, which will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. This bill is authored by Senator Barb Goodwin. Thank you.”
Example for Representative:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a constituent and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that my Representative ________________ (name) support H.F. 702, which will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. This bill is authored by Representative John Lesch. Thank you.
Example for Governor:
“My name is ________________ (full name). I am a Minnesota resident and I live in __________ (city). I’m calling about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding conditions in Minnesota and the need for regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders. I’m asking that Governor Mark Dayton support S.F. 462, authored by Senator Goodwin, and H.F. 702, authored by Representative Lesch. These bills will license, inspect and regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. Thank you.”
I don’t know about everyone else, but when I first saw this article linked in a Facebook posting, my jaw dropped. Not because it was about puppy mills, or even that it was about the link between pet stores and puppy mills, but because both those subjects were being discussed in Forbes Magazine.
Forgive me, but when I usually think about Forbes it’s in relation to their lists of the richest men, richest women, most highly paid movie stars,etc. Not a story about the fact that pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Wow.
Of course, it was an interview with a CEO (in sticking with the Forbes readership), but who cares? This CEO just happened to leave his job for over a year to film a documentary about puppy mills (You have to love someone who would take time away from his job to bring attention to something so important even though he may never get paid for it… ever.).
Kudos to Andrew Nibley for taking time off to make the film, Madonna of the Mills, AND to Forbes and Allen St. John, for making the puppy mill problem and the pet store connection more public. I recommend you read it if you haven’t it’s quite good and very interesting.
Where *Not* to Buy a Dog: The Pet Store Connection to the Business of Puppy Mills
My thanks to Allen St. John for his comment below and for reminding me that he has other stories on this issue (he’s doing a series, so check them out if you can) and an upcoming one with Ian Dunabar (awesome!). I noticed one of the links was broken in his piece from above, so I’ve included it below. I think you will find them equally as interesting.
I including this last little piece just because I loved it so much, especially the last paragraph. I totally agree with his sentiments. (Funny enough, we also raised chickens in my 5th grade class, from egg to chicken, and when it was time we took them home with us until my Aunt Sheila could take them home to live with her chickens. Funny coincidence huh?)
I was out to dinner with some friends a while back and one of them told me that he had almost taken in a French Bulldog through someone he knew at work. It turns out that a lady he worked with knew a young woman who had purchased the dog because it was trendy. Seriously? She got a dog because it was “trendy”? She didn’t want a companion or a friend. Nope. She wanted to be able to show everyone how hip and cool she was because she had latest trendy item.
“Hey look everybody! I’ve got the latest fashion accessory – A French Bulldog!” (Sarcasm intended)
As it turns out, after purchasing the dog, and sending it through doggy training camp for two weeks, she determined that the French Bulldog wasn’t really for her. She decided that she would rather have a pocket dog. She was dumping one dog to get another. How lovely.
Right around the same time, another friend told me how disgusted she was with an acquaintance of hers after she bought a teacup Yorkie. Did she purchase the dog for companionship? No. She got the dog because she loved the idea of being able to dress it up in cute little clothes and carry it around with her – like an accessory.
She didn’t want to take the time to potty train it (or train it at all for that matter), she didn’t want to play with it or spend time walking it either. Why? Because the dog sole purpose in life was to make her look good. What dog wouldn’t love to be dressed up for special outings and then ignored the rest of the time?
Here’s the deal folks – if you’re looking for an accessory, go get yourself a pair of new shoes, or a purse. A dog is not a an accessory. They poop, they pee, they need training, and they need someone who actually CARES for and about them, not someone who wants attention for having the latest fashion accessory in tow.