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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

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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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Puppy Mills: Do you know what size cage would your dog live in? I do.

October 1, 2012 26 comments

I was all set to write about Puppy Mill Awareness Day on Sunday, but I was still mulling over some information I had learned from a link someone sent me. The link,  “According to the USDA, how much room does a puppy mill dog need?”, is to a page on the website for Animal Ark Shelter.

It’s a page that allows you to calculate the minimum amount of cage/kennel space your dog would need to meet the minimum USDA standards for licensed USDA breeders (i.e., puppy millers).  With just one number –  your dog’s measured length in inches, you can see what size cage your dog would live in if it were living in a puppy mill.

Keep in mind that this is the size cage your dog would live in for its whole life, as it bred litter after litter of puppies, puppies that are then sold in pet stores, and over the internet.

Having two former breeder dogs, both from puppy mills, I was more than interested to learn what the USDA deems as adequate housing (in this case, kennel space or cage size) for a dog owned by a USDA licensed puppy mill owner.

I measured Lady first. Using the visual guideline on the Animal Ark page, I measured her from nose to butt  – 32 inches. I then put the number into the calculator on their page and hit the Return key. Immediately, I got back the following information:

Lady = 32 inches

According to USDA regulations, she could live in a cage measuring   3.17 feet by 3.17 feet (or 38 inches by 38 inches), or 10 square feet of cage space. (For those who use the metric system, that is .96 meters by .96 meters.)

Next, I measured Daisy. She is approximately 37 inches in length.

Daisy = 37 inches

According to USDA regulations, Daisy could live in a cage measuring 3.58 feet by 3.58 feet (or 43 inches by 43 inches), or 12.84 square feet of cage space. (For those who use the metric system, that is 1.09 by 1.09 meters.)

What struck me first was the number of extra inches the USDA afforded Lady and Daisy (beyond their own body length in inches). The number was the same for each – 6 inches. That’s it. As puppy mill breeding dogs, Lady and Daisy were only required to have 6 extra inches in length and width, beyond their own actual body length. Wow. Can you imagine your dog living its whole life with 6 inches to spare on either side? I can’t.

In addition to that fact, the page also tells you that dogs in USDA licensed puppy mills are only required to have six inches of head room in their cages. Double wow.  So, dogs get 6 extra inches of head room and 6 extra inches in which to turn around in. How could anyone not think that was cruel? Add in the wire flooring that almost all puppy mill dogs stand on, and live on, for their WHOLE lives and you just have to wonder why anyone would want to support an industry like this. And yet, in the United States we do support it  – every single day.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day was created to educate people about the horrors of puppy mills. This post might seem like such a small piece of that bigger message we are trying to get out, but I hope it does one thing for those who read it. I hope it creates a visual of what life is like for those dogs sitting in puppy mill cages with 6 inches to spare.

Every puppy someone buys in a pet store is a vote to support puppy mills.

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

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.

Please note: 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. Don’t buy over the internet.

Lady – Puppy mill survivor (cage space: 38 inches)

Daisy – Puppy mill survivor (cage size: 43 inches)

I support the USDA proposed change to internet puppy sales. Will you?

August 13, 2012 23 comments

Daisy – my former puppy mill breeding dog

Well, today is it. The last day to comment on the USDA’s proposed rule change to the Animal Welfare Act. I’ve already made my comment, the question is… WILL YOU?

You haven’t heard about the proposed rule change? Then let me tell you what it means in one sentence. The ability for the USDA to inspect and regulate unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills who sell puppies over the internet.

Right now, yes today, puppy mills all over this country are using the internet to sell their puppies. Why? Because when they sell their puppies over the internet they can’t be inspected by the USDA. Nada. Never. This means they can keep their dogs in any condition they want. They don’t have to give them fresh water. They don’t have to feed them on a regular basis. They can keep them in tiny wire cages for their whole life. They don’t have to exercise them. They certainly don’t have to provide them the minimum of care that puppy mills who sell to pet stores do now.

Yes, yes, yes. I know it’s a bit more complicated than that.  Isn’t everything? But at its essence this rule change is about closing a loophole. One that badly needs  closing right now. All you have to do is look at eBay Classifieds to know that puppy millers are doing quite well on the internet. (BTW eBay – nice that you took puppies and kitties off your main listings page, but hiding them from the main page doesn’t address the real issue. You’re still facilitating the sale of puppy mill puppies over the internet.) And why not? They don’t have to worry about inspections. They don’t have to worry about dealing with a middle-man anymore. They simply pose their puppies next to a pop can or place them in front of a cute background and offer to ship them to you for an exorbitant fee.

So today is the day. It’s your chance to make a difference. As the owner of a former puppy mill breeding dog, I ask you to express your support for the proposed rule change. You can do so on the USDA website directly or you can use the easy form created by the ASPCA. Still confused? Hearing conflicting information from breeders on this topic? Go to the source. The USDA clarified some of questions and issues first raised by hobby breeders about the rule change.

Side note: I expect that I will hear from a lot of responsible breeders about how completely wrong I am about the specifics of this rule change. I am sure I will hear I am wrong to support it because it will have an impact on hobby breeders all over America. Great. Have at it. But before you do, answer me one question, why should I oppose a law that may or may not hurt you when I have seen very little from you in the way of opposing puppy mills?

I don’t see responsible and hobby breeders up in arms about the AKC handing out certificates to puppy millers. I never hear about responsible breeders exposing puppy millers who keep their pets in horrific conditions (and who, by the way, also give responsible breeders a bad name). Maybe you do fight against puppy mills and I just never hear about it. But I certainly haven’t seen the AKC stop giving them legitimacy.

I have always made the distinction between responsible “good” breeders and puppy millers. I support what you do. I respect breeders who care about the well-being of their dogs. But on this we will have to agree to disagree. I am for the rule change. I support it. I recognize that a rule change won’t mean there will be more inspectors available to inspect these internet puppy mills. I recognize that this will not stop puppy mills from selling over the internet. But what I do expect is that it will put a speed bump in their path and I’m good with that.

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