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100 Problem Puppy Mills – Is your state on the list?

May 12, 2013 22 comments

Puppy mill kennelsLast 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?

puppymillsblack

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

January 29, 2013 64 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 Puppyfind.com 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 Puppyfind.com and Next daypets.com

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.

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 TheWrongPuppy.org.)

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.

Sorry NO PETS SOLD HERE… anymore

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I just read a tweet from @phxdogblogger that caught my attention. The city council of West Hollywood, California has “voted unanimously to ban stores from selling cats and dogs in a move aimed at curbing puppy mills and kitty factories.”

Now granted, West Hollywood does not currently have any stores selling cats and dogs in their city, but perhaps this will start a trend. Perhaps if we take away one of the means by which puppy mills and kitty factories make their money, we can start to reduce the numbers of cats and dogs who are used, abused and mistreated by puppy mill owners. And, just maybe some of those 3 million shelter dogs and cats could be adopted into loving homes instead of being euthanized each year.

What do you think? Should we start a trend?

What’s In A Lab?

December 29, 2009 3 comments

Daisy – A Yellow Lab with a lighter shade coat color

I recently had another pet sitter ask me where I get the topics for my blogs. Honestly, they just come to me, usually through my every day interactions with animals and people.

For instance, I was at a department store the other day buying some things to give as gifts next year. While at the register, the cashier noticed that I had a lot of items with a dog or cat theme to them. I explained to him that I was a pet sitter, and just like that I had my next blog post! Kind of…really, it was what happened next.

The cashier asked me if I knew of any AKC breeders who had Red Fox Labs. Huh? Red Fox Labs? What the heck? Was this a new way for breeders to create a designer dog and call it something familiar? Was there a new Lab making it’s appearance into the Labrador Retriever world that I didn’t know about?

I had to find out.

It turns out that in addition to the standard yellow, black and brown Labrador Retrievers, there are also these Labrador Retrievers that certain breeders sell as “White or Snow”, “Silver” or “Fox Red” Labs. Who knew? I was floored because I thought I was pretty well educated on dog breeds, but here were these new Labradors Retrievers that I had never heard about. Except, they’re not… New… I mean. Genetically, Labs only come in 3 colors: black, brown and yellow. What some breeders call “White Labs” or “Snow Labs” are really just yellow Labs with a lighter shade of coat. What some breeders call “Silver Labs” are actually brown or chocolate labs with a mismarking in coloring or simply a cross between a Weimaraner and a Lab. And now for the Red Fox Lab… it turns out it’s just a Yellow Lab with “red fox coloring” – as defined by AKC standards.

When I first adopted Daisy, people would always ask me if she was a “White Lab” or a “Snow Lab”. Honestly, I had never given it any thought because I had always thought of her as a yellow Lab who just happened to be white in color. It turns out I was right. She was a yellow Lab… with a lighter shade of coat. And, I was lucky enough to adopt her. Not buy her from a breeder.

But, people who are buying White Labs, Snow Labs, Silver Labs and Red Fox Labs from breeders, usually for exorbitant prices, are actually buying… A LAB. Not a rare breed. Not a new breed. Just a Lab. And, in some cases, a Lab that isn’t even recognized by the AKC, but is considered a mismarked dog.

So why do I tell you all of this? It’s not because I really care what color Labrador Retriever you want. It’s a preference. I prefer my Daisy, and love her white coat color. If you prefer a yellow Lab with a reddish coat color I’m not going to judge you for having a preference for that color.

But, as a consumer, you need to be aware (here’s a great place to start). Know what someone is selling you. If the word “rare” is being used to describe the Labrador Retriever you are interested in buying, walk away. Anyone who would lie to you about this isn’t likely to tell you the truth about the dog or it’s parentage. If they want to charge you an exorbitant amount of money for this “rare Lab”, question it. Chances are they are just looking to make a quick buck and if that’s the case they’re not a reputable breeder. And chances are they could be a puppy mill or backyard breeder – not the type of people you want to buy a dog from anyways.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what color Lab you get. Because what’s in a Lab is A LAB. If you want a special coat color, great, just remember that color doesn’t change the breed or the price. It’s still a Lab.

‘Tis the Season… To Get Rid of Your Pet?

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Appalled by the title? Me too.

Unfortunately, this is the time of year when people find they can no longer afford their pets or don’t have the time to dedicate to caring for them, and end up bringing them to the local animal shelter. So, at one of the most family-focused times of the year, these dogs and cats (through no fault of their own) find themselves looking for a new home. A home where someone will love them and care for them and in some cases, train them.

I was walking dogs this past weekend at the shelter I volunteer at and saw so many worthy dogs that deserved a second chance at a home. I saw two Golden Retrievers under 2 years of age who look to be purebred but were given up because their owners had no time – just imagine the potential of these dogs if someone had the time!

I saw so many little dogs… Rat Terriers, a Dachshund and even a Cocker Spaniel – all looking for new homes because their owners were moving and could not take them with them. So many people want little dogs to cuddle with at home. How much better would it be to give a dog a home that needs one desperately? How awesome would it feel to know you rescued a dog who due to the economy ended up at a shelter (not because their owner didn’t love them and care for them, but because financial circumstances forced them to give up their pet)?

I don’t know about other shelters or rescue organizations, but we are full up at our shelter. And, the kicker is most of these dogs are there due to financial circumstances not because of behavior problems.
So, unfortunately… ‘Tis the Season.

Desperately Seeking Jasmine (er, Casey?)

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I have fostered four dogs over the past few years. Of the four, I have been fortunate enough to know where three ended up. I know how they are doing.

Daisy, my first, lives with me and is doing very well despite a rough beginning. Clyde (formerly Pixel) is a Dalmatian and came to me scared, unsocialized and very attached to his sister. He is a wonderful dog. I really had a hard time giving him up. Fortunately, he was reunited with his sister, Bonnie (to which he is very attached), and both were adopted together. They now live with a wonderful woman who has been patient, understanding and kind with both of them. I even get to see them on occasion at the dog park!

My last two foster dogs, Jasper and Jasmine, are Shelties and were purchased by a kind woman who just wanted to get them out of a pet store that was in a deplorable condition. Both came to me scared, unsocialized and very attached to one another. I considered adopting one, but couldn’t choose between them so I eventually returned them both to the shelter to be adopted. As luck would have it, Jasmine passed her assessment with flying colors and was adopted right away by a couple. However, Jasper did not pass his assessment. He was too afraid to do all the things necessary to be assessed properly (he prefers to eat his food in private). So, he came back to live with me and Daisy. They have since become great friends and companions.

As a foster parent it is always hard when you have to say goodbye, but the “not-knowing” is the worst part. You can’t help but wonder how they are doing in their new homes with their new parents. Are they okay? Do they miss their sibling? What do they look like now that they are healthy and grown up?

All I know about Jasmine is this… she attended doggie daycare one day (soon after she was adopted) at a facility where my friend works and her name had been changed to Casey. That’s it. Nothing else.

So, day after day I look for her. Every time I see a Sheltie that looks like Jasmine my heart jumps a little. “Could that be her?”, I wonder. My deep desire to know how she is doing makes me approach the owner to ask “Is your dog’s name Jasmine or Casey?” Time after time the answer has been a curious “no”. It is then that I explain the purpose for my question. Everyone is kind and understanding, but unfortunately, they cannot help me. And so, I continue to search.

It is my one great desire to see her again, to know she is okay. It would be great to reunite her with her brother, Jasper, just for a play date, but I would be happy with just knowing how she is doing. So I continue to desperately search out that one dog, that one Sheltie, that looks like Jasmine in hopes of finding the answer to my questions. My hope is that I will someday I will get my wish.

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