Posts Tagged ‘dog breeders’

Is Iowa State and true CDC teaching puppy millers how to run a mill?

November 18, 2013 9 comments

I recently saw someone share a petition on Facebook that made me do a double-take. The title of the petition?

Iowa State University & CDC: Stop Teaching How to Run a Puppy Mill.

What? Why would Iowa State University and the CDC be teaching people how to run a puppy mill? Surely they must be mistaken. That made absolutely no sense.

IMG_2486According to the petition, the Center for Food Security & Public Health (located at the Iowa State University), with funding from “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers an eleven-part course in Regulatory Compliance for Commercial Dog Breeders.” The petition went on to say that it was “unconscionable” that these two agencies would help to facilitate the breeding of dogs when so many are sitting in shelters waiting for a home. Well, I cannot argue with that. It’s a legitimate point.

But, I wanted to know more about their claims. So, I Googled the Center for Food Security and Public Health. It wasn’t hard to find them, or the 11-part course offered to breeders. As it turns out, the courses they offer are nothing more than a series of PowerPoint presentations covering the licensing and regulatory requirements under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In essence, they inform a potential puppy miller of the rules and licensing requirements of a USDA- licensed breeder. They probably are required to offer the courses by law.

I think what is more laughable is that they offer these courses at all.

I mean, how can one not laugh when one reads the slide (Slide 16) on the Enforcement Measures in the course labeled Presentation 1: Introduction to APHIS Animal Care and the Regulatory Process:

If violations of the AWA are found, enforcement measures can include:

  • Confiscation or euthanasia of animals
  • Issuance of a cease and desist order (stopping a business from buying/selling dogs)
  • Monetary fines
  • Suspension or loss of a license
  • Formal prosecution (being taken to court)

Very few USDA-licensed commercial breeders ever face these types of enforcement measures. Take Deborah Beatrice Rowell, a USDA-licensed breeder in Pine River who was raided this summer and had 130 dogs seized. The seizure wasn’t conducted by the USDA. No. It was Minnesota law enforcement who stepped in, alongside the ASPCA and Animal Folks MN.

In fact, the USDA seems to have done nothing despite reports showing noncompliance over several years.

USDA inspection photos and compiled USDA inspection reports that showed noncompliances over multiple years, including one official USDA warning for lack of proper shelter. (from Animal Folks MN)

It took the USDA years before they shut Kathy Jo Bauck down too, and that only happened after CAPS video-taped the horrible conditions in her facility and it was aired on TV news.

Also laughable is the course on dog exercise (see slide 11 of that presentation):

Let’s go through an example.

Sparkles is a Scottish Terrier that measures 18 inches from the tip or her nose to the base of her tail.
First calculate the minimum floor space required for her by taking her length 18 inches and adding 6 inches and multiplying the sum by itself. This equals 576 inches (4 sq ft.) This is the minimum amount of space Sparkles needs for housing purposes.

To calculate the inches of floor space required if Sparkles will not receive additional exercise, take 576 and multiply by 2 to equal 1152 inches (8 sq. ft).
If Sparkles will not be taken out for additional exercise, she needs to be in a primary enclosure with 8 square feet of floor space.

IMG_8857Try measuring your own dog once. Start at the tip of his nose and go to the base of his tail. Now follow the calculations above for minimum housing requirements where exercise is needed. Then measure the size pen your dog would live in for life if they were in a pen not requiring any exercise. At all. Ever.

Now you can start to see the ridiculousness of such a requirement. The sad thing is that most puppy mill dogs live in housing that is at the smaller requirement, the one that requires exercise, and yet receive no exercise at all. Ever.

I don’t have a problem with the Center for Food Security & Public Health and CDC educating commercial breeders on the requirements of federal law.

What I have a problem with is the fact that they even bother at all. Educating breeders on USDA licensing requirements is like threatening to punish your child and not following through. How much is your child likely to respect you and your rules if they know they can get around them every single time? How likely is it that a commercial breeder will either? 

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?


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.

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 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.

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.

A Lab is a Lab is a Lab is a Lab…

March 27, 2012 14 comments

While out at the Pet Expo on Saturday, I had the chance to see the dock-diving demonstration. It was great to see all the different kinds of dogs that compete in dock diving – Shepherds, Border Collies, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and mixes of all kinds. I couldn’t help but giggle at the dogs that were so excited to jump they could hardly sit still, much less stay in a “stay”. It was like watching a child on Christmas morning waiting to open presents.
(I have shared a few pictures below for you to enjoy. I apologize for some of the blurriness, but those dogs were moving faster than the camera on my phone could capture!)

The one thing that disappointed me about the dock diving demonstration wasn’t really the dock diving, but the commentator. During his running commentary on the demonstration, he took time to call out these “new” Labrador Retriever breeds called “White Labs” and “Silver Labs”. I just shook my head and commented to my friends about what he had said.

Statements like these make me so angry. This is not truth in any way. Statements like these are intentionally created to mislead people about dogs, and in this case, Labs in particular. It’s like creating a dog with a cute name like “Yorkie-Poo” and then selling it to unwitting people as a “designer dog” or new breed. The only intent of this cute naming process is money. In essence, a Yorkie-Poo is a mutt, but the cute name somehow makes it worth the $1000 people pay for it (kind of like “new and improved” sells laundry detergent). A cute name means sales and that means puppy mills will be more than happy to breed lots and lots of these dogs if it brings them lots and lots of money.

Calling a Yellow Labrador Retriever a cute name like “White Lab” is just that, a cute name. It’s still a Yellow Lab. Calling a Chocolate Labrador Retriever a “Silver Lab” doesn’t make it any less a Chocolate Lab. It’s simply a genetic dilution of a Chocolate Lab, and in some cases it’s actually a Lab crossed with a Weimaraner.

My point here is that people create these cute names for a reason and it has nothing to do with the betterment of the breed and everything to do with the dollar amount that people charge for these so-called “special” dog breeds. When a breed with a cute name becomes popular it means more of these dogs will be sold by puppy mills so they can make a quick profit. Daisy likely came from just such a mill. She is a Yellow Labrador Retriever who just happens to be closer to white in color than most Labs, but she is still a Yellow Lab. I wonder how much her puppies sold for? Were they sold as “White Labs” too? My bet is they were. Perhaps you can understand my anger and frustration with those who would purport to call these dogs a “new breed.”

I wrote about this issue a couple of years ago. In that piece I referenced a link to a post called “Don’t pay more for an “out of standard” dog”. I really encourage you to read it, especially if you are looking to get a “white” or “silver” Lab.

Just an added word on cute names for dog breeds. If it sounds cute and it’s not a recognized breed in the registries (AKC and others), then it’s most likely not a “new breed” at all, but a designer dog or a traditional dog breed with different coloring, that was created for one reason only – profit.

Yes Minnesota, you can defeat puppy mills. Here’s how.

March 11, 2012 22 comments


For anyone who has rehabbed a puppy mill breeding dog, the experience is a life changing one. Not only do you learn a lot about yourself, but you learn a whole lot more about puppy mills and pet stores and the conditions in which your dog lived.

I was one of the lucky ones. Yes. Daisy was fearful when I first got her, so fearful she would go straight to the ground and cower when I approached, but she wasn’t sick and full of parasites like many other puppy mill dogs. I am sure the organization that rescued her took care of that before she came to me. But, for many pet owners who purchase a pet from a pet store, their puppy or kitty is not only full of parasites but also sick and genetically flawed in some way. Genetic disorders and illnesses like hip dysplasia, heart disease, epilepsy, eye problems, and respiratory disorders are just the tip of the iceberg for these puppies and kitties. Many new owners will also find that they have not only purchased sick dog, but a fearful one or one with behavioral issues.

This week I want to focus 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 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
Phone: 651-201-3400
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Fax: 651-797-1850
Email contact form:
Governor Mark Dayton on Twitter
Governor Mark Dayton’s on Facebook.


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.”

For more information on this bill go to AnimalFolksMN.

When Dog Breeding Goes Bad

April 7, 2011 24 comments

Two things happened yesterday that left me sad and wondering the following… Why do breeders breed dogs that have known personality issues or temperament defects? And, why do they sell their offspring to people knowing that these defects could be passed on to their puppies?

The first thing that happened was a meeting with a friend at our local dog park.

It is an absolutely heartbreaking story.

While Daisy, Jasper and I were out on our walk yesterday, we ran into a friend and her dog. We often see them in the mornings, and since our dogs get along so well with each other, we often walk together. Her dog is a white Golden Retriever puppy (some breeders call them English or Creme colored retrievers) and her name is Sally (name changed).

Sally is 11 months old and she is funny and goofy (as puppies often are) and she loves to play. Her mother is a lovely woman. I have always enjoyed walking with her and sharing our stories and love of dogs. But yesterday when we ran into her and Sally, she was crying. My heart sank. I don’t know how I knew what was coming, but I did , and I started to cry too.

You see a couple of months prior, Sally’s mom had confided in me that she had become a little frightened of Sally after she had attacked her when she tried to retrieve a bone from her. The aggression that Sally had shown had left her frightened and unsure, and this was not the first time it had happened. I admit that I was concerned. It is not normal for a dog as young as Sally to be showing the type of aggression her mother described at such a young age, but I had hoped it was simply a case of resource guarding. I recommended she call a trainer friend of mine to see if she could help.

After speaking with her, my trainer friend recommend that Sally’s mom set up an appointment with a veterinarian animal behaviorist at the University of Minnesota. Sally’s mom made the appointment as soon as she could get in – in late March.

Meeting with a veterinary animal behaviorist is not cheap nor is it just a simple appointment. It requires a lot of work up front. Owners must complete a large amount of paperwork identifying the concerning behavior(s) and describing in detail the incidents or behaviors they have witnessed in their pet. Usually, the whole family attends the appointment, including the other family pets. This was the case with my friend. She attended the appointment with her two small children and their other family dog. It was a four-hour appointment.

Sally’s mom expected to receive advice on how to work with Sally, a behavioral action plan of sorts, but instead what she received was something she had not expected – advice that Sally should be euthanized. Shocked? She was too. It’s not something veterinary animal behaviorists recommend very often, but in Sally’s case there were two of things that deeply concerned them: 1) Sally showing such serious aggression at such a young age (she was only 11 months old), and 2) that Sally’s aggression was unpredictable (it didn’t always have a known trigger) and could occur at any time with no precursors to indicate it was coming (I am sure that having two small children in the home also played a role).

The animal behaviorist explained to Sally’s mom that her aggression was not the result of something she and her husband had done or not done. In fact, both had been good pet parents. The diagnosis was that Sally’s aggression was genetic in origin and not something that could be addressed via behavior modification. In essence, she was dangerous and could, and likely would, hurt someone seriously at some time in the future. It was devastating news.

It was made even more devastating when the breeder refused to take Sally back and then blamed Sally’s mom and dad for her aggression (and this was after she spoke with the animal behaviorist herself!). Despite trying to find someone or some place that would take Sally, there just were no other options available. So, yesterday was Sally’s last visit to the dog park. It broke my heart to see her having such a good time knowing all along that it would be her last. I cannot imagine how awful it must have been for her mom and the rest of her family to say goodbye to her. She was way too young. She was just a puppy.

The second incident actually happened to a friend of mine. She works at an animal care facility that cares for people’s dogs while they are away. I happened to speak with her yesterday, just after she had returned from Urgent Care, where she had received several stitches for a dog bite that had occurred while she was working. I won’t go into the specific details of how it happened, but I will say that the dog bit her hard enough to cause blood to start gushing out of her hand. The kicker is that she learned that the dog who had bitten her had bitten a family member in the past AND that he also came from a lineage where the father and grandfather had been known to have issues with aggression as well. Geez! Seriously?

I cannot say for certain that the first breeder knew there was an issue with her dogs. Maybe Sally was an aberration. A one in a million. All I know is that her family is devastated. They are left to grieve for a puppy they had fallen in love with and adored.

In the other situation, the breeder clearly knew there was an issue. She told the owner for God’s sake! Why the owner chose to buy a dog with a history like that I cannot even venture to guess, but my friend is left to suffer through the pain, discomfort and the limited use of her hand, all because a breeder chose to breed dogs known to have temperament/aggression issues.

I admit that the breeding industry is completely foreign to me. I have never chosen my dogs based on a particular breed, but rather on their temperament and demeanor. To me, temperament matters so much more than looks. If a dog looks good but is flawed beyond belief, what is the point? If a dog looks good, but has aggression issues, what is the benefit?

So I ask you… Why do breeders breed dogs that have known personality issues or temperament defects? And, why do they sell their offspring to people knowing that these defects could be passed on to their puppies?

I’d like to know what you think.

Dogs: Playing on Both Sides of the Fence

July 4, 2010 17 comments

Dogs love nothing better than to have new territory to explore. Playing on both sides of the fence can be exciting: new places to explore, new friends to meet, new smells to sniff, etc.

But when it involves doing business, does playing on both sides of the fence matter? For instance, is it okay to promote rescue organizations while at the same time doing business with those people who contribute to pet over-population? Is it okay to do so if you are helping rescue organizations in the long run?

Those are the questions I am faced with today.

Recently, while working on some research for a friend, I discovered that someone I respected, and even promoted, was playing on both sides of the fence.

The Pet Web Designer, Michael Ayalon, has been active in the Twitter community, especially with pet-related Twitter folks. According to the ASPCA, he has actively helped “to broaden the reach of shelters beyond their local communities and allow potential adopters to see available pets through a live video website..” called The site allows potential adopters to see a pet and his/her personality via live webcam thus helping adopters to determine if the pet would make a good addition to their family. Definitely a good deed.

But, as a fellow Twitterer, I guess I didn’t realize that the Pet Web Designer was also playing on the other side of the fence and helping breeders “to generate 300 new qualified puppy buyers per day” as stated in one of the testimonials featured on his website. Or that he had helped a breeder in the business for 12 years to “sell more puppies than we ever thought we could…” or to help another breeder (from the well-known puppy mill state of Pennsylvania) to sell “… more puppies than I thought was possible. Every day brings hundreds of customers looking for my breeds to my pet website.”

And, does it constitute playing both sides of the fence if you publish articles under different names (Ron Ayalon,/Michael Ron, Ron Ayalon)?

Certainly not illegal. Writers do it all the time.

But, what if many of your articles link back to places like this?

I want to be fair here and state that he has also helped some of my fellow pet sitters, a doggy daycare, a pet apparel store, an environmentally responsible lawn care service, and as I mentioned above, rescue organizations. He has also published some good articles on working with and caring for your dog/cat.

I am not naive, I realize that businesses play on both sides of the fence all of the time. The question is… does it matter if a business plays on both sides of the fence and is up front and honest about it? After all, the testimonials are there for all to see. Nothing is hidden from those who wish to find it.

What do you think? Is playing both sides of the fence ok?

P.S. I should mentioned that soon after I started writing this piece, Michael (or should I say Ron?) Ayalon, changed all the links at the bottom of his ezines articles to this. Luckily, I had already copied and pasted the ones I mentioned from knol.

Update: Since my original post Michael has decided to include the websites he has created as well as the domain names he owns on the Home Page of his website (scroll down). I think this is a step in the right direction. What he has also done is change all of his online articles by removing the links to this and this. Perhaps this is an altruistic decision, but only time will tell.

Taxes. If it worked to catch The Mob, why not Puppy Mills?

February 1, 2010 2 comments

Having adopted a puppy mill breeding dog, I have often been frustrated by the fact that our Minnesota legislature refuses to implement stronger laws against puppy mills and inhumane cat and dog breeders in Minnesota. But, a recent e-mail from Animals Folks MN has given me new hope.

Perhaps, FINALLY, there may be a way to go after these folks… and it involves working within existing laws and… It’s called SALES TAX.

According to Animal Folks MN, Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. Sec. 297A.61) states that the retail sales of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are subject to sales tax. Yet, when Animal Folks MN sampled a list of dog breeders 74% did not have active sales tax permits (a sales tax permit is required in order for the state of Minnesota to track and collect sales tax from businesses subject to sales tax).

Unfortunately, the list of dog and cat breeders in Minnesota is not complete (due to the lack of record-keeping by the state and local governments within Minnesota). But, based on data that Animal Folks MN was able to collect, uncollected sales taxes for dog and cat breeders could well be over $2 million yearly, and the amount could very well be more than that.

Given the current recession and our budget shortfall, this dollar amount might be enough of an incentive for the state to actually go after these breeders. Already, other states (California, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) have started to go after breeders in their states for not paying sales taxes. Dare we hope that Minnesota will be next?

I, for one, will hold onto that hope. Are you listening Minnesota Department of Revenue?

This is at the bottom of the Animal Folks “Tax Revenues” page, but I thought I would include it here as well:

Report it
Consumers who purchase a puppy or kitten from a Minnesota dog/cat breeder and know or suspect they have not paid sales tax can report the transaction to the Minnesota Department of Revenue Criminal Investigation Division at:

MN TAX FRAUD TIPLINE: 651-297-4195 or 1-800-657-3500

Tipline can also be found at the MN Department of Revenue’s website:
You can call 24 hours and you can remain anonymous.

NOTE: Find out more about the tipline and what specific type of information is needed at the MN Department of Revenue website link above. There is also a mailing address posted. The more detailed the information, the more likely it is the case will be referred for a civil audit or a criminal investigation.

%d bloggers like this: