Breaking news: HSUS investigation connects New Jersey pet stores to notorious Midwest puppy mills

By on August 29, 2016 with 27 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

An HSUS undercover investigation covering every known pet store in New Jersey that sells puppies has revealed that many of these businesses sourced animals from puppy mills with Animal Welfare Act violations. Federal inspectors, in some cases, found bleeding or injured dogs and even dead puppies at the worst of the breeders.

At some of the New Jersey pet stores, investigators found puppies living in dismal, crowded conditions. Other stores failed to disclose any breeder information to potential buyers, in apparent violation of state law.

Altogether, HSUS investigators visited all 29 pet stores that we could find in New Jersey that sell puppies. Our research staff reviewed documentation concerning the origins of more than 1,400 puppies shipped to the stores from out-of-state breeding operations. What we found was consistent with a string of past investigations that expose the pet store-puppy mill connection:

  • Fifty-three puppy mills that have appeared in one or more of The HSUS’s Horrible Hundred reports have sold animals to New Jersey pet stores within the past 20 months. The USDA warned one notorious Iowa breeder that shooting dogs in the head is an unacceptable form of euthanasia (Judy Maassen/ J Maassen Inc.). The agency found seven dead puppies scattered on one Ohio breeder’s property (Andy Yoder/ Yoder Backroad Kennel), while an Iowa kennel had more than 20 dogs in need of veterinary care (Steve Kruse/ Stonehenge Kennel).
  • We found conditions at some of the New Jersey stores to be demonstrably inhumane, with puppies confined to small, rusted cages, and starved for human attention. Some of the puppies at NY Puppy Club in Edgewater were in cages so small that they could do little more than turn around. Puppies at a number of stores pawed at their cages, as if desperate to get out. Conditions at Carmona Pet Shop in Union City, Passaic Pets in Passaic, and D & G’s Petite Pups in Paterson were so troubling that our staff reported them to local law enforcement agencies for review.
  • Of the 29 stores visited by our investigators, six failed to disclose any breeder information to the potential buyer, in apparent violation of state law. These stores included Carmona Pet Shop in Union City, Oh My Dog in Kearny, Fashionable Pets in Paramus, Passaic Pets in Passaic, and Absolute Fishland and Pets R Us, both in Newark.
  • Many pet stores provided incomplete or misleading information to consumers. For example, a salesperson at Wayne Puppies in Wayne told an undercover investigator that all of the puppies in the store were from local breeders, but information posted near the cages clearly showed that some of the puppies had come from a large-scale dog broker in Iowa.


We’ve always warned pet buyers not to shop at pet stores that sell puppies, and this investigation proves once again that there are valid reasons for that counsel. Pet stores tell buyers that all their dogs are “from USDA licensed breeders” or are “AKC registered” as if these declarations are stamps of quality, but our investigations of licensed puppy mills and the AKC have proven in the past that their assurances are hollow and provide no guarantees of humane treatment.

A puppy at NY Puppy Club in Edgewater, NJ had very little room to move and seemed desperate for attention.

A puppy at NY Puppy Club in Edgewater, NJ had very little room to move and seemed desperate for attention. Photo by The HSUS

Our investigation is part of a multi-channel push to warn the public away from likely puppy mill outlets such as the Internet, pet stores, and flea markets. Our actions range from support for local ordinances to restrict sales of puppy mill dogs to a variety of state laws to undercover investigations to raids of particularly nasty mills. Last week, on National Dog Day, we launched a new online campaign with the help of Maddie’s Fund and the Rokkan company in New York. Our new videos and website warn the public, in an eyecatching and accessible way, not to buy puppies from websites or pet stores because they are common outlets for puppy mills. We are intercepting consumers searching to buy puppies online, and driving them to shelters, rescue groups, and responsible breeders.

In addition to the New Jersey pet stores investigation and our new public education campaign, we are also supporting a proposed measure, S.63, that would prevent pet shops that repeatedly violate New Jersey’s humane sourcing laws from selling puppies within the state. S.63 overwhelmingly passed the state senate in June with a bipartisan vote of 27-8.

New Jersey residents can help take action by contacting their assembly members and asking them to support S.63. Dog lovers in all other parts of the country can help us spread the word by signing the pledge not to support puppy mill outlets.

Companion Animals, Investigations

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  1. Fran Leard says:

    Every single puppy mill in each state should be closed down and stop this horrible treatment of these precious dogs. These brainless owners only care about the money they are making and not giving the animals the proper treatment they deserve.
    We need severe laws to end this suffering and their filthy environment. When will it end?

    • Ellie says:

      It will end when people don’t buy puppies from puppy stores and don’t buy over the Internet without reliable references or being able to go to the breeder to see how their dogs are treated and puppies are raised. If people just stopped these behaviors these places would be shut down within a year or to……law of supply and demand……no demand no need for supply.

    • Corine Baldinger says:

      I could not agree more. Why are puppy mills even allowed to exist. The way To put them all out of abusiness is to prohibit the sale of dogs through any retail store and allowing the purchase of dogs only through individual breeders out of their homes with limits as to how many dogs can be bred and sold at one time and subjected to routine inspections. The sale of dogs at flea markets, through the Internet and puppy stores should be prohibited and perhaps then would we put puppy mills out of commission . The puppy mill industry is despicable and a shameful reflection on the American people and it’s societal values. It is embarrassing that the most “progressive” country in the world allows for this type of widespread animal abuse.

    • B. Brady says:

      Perfectly said! I couldn’t agree more!

    • Cathy Figueroa says:

      Good question. I agree with what you said.What in the world do we have to do. Just tell me and I’ll help.

  2. Edna Power says:

    Please do all you can to close these horrible puppy mills. Some have been closed I hope a lot more will be an hopefully the law is beginning to crack down more on the AMISH.

    • Chris says:

      OH yea !! The Amish are some of the worst !!

    • Tracie says:


    • Kasey says:

      YES YES YES. Not just here on the east coast either. Amish from INDIANA sold dogs to a pet store in nj. My dog was one of them. I’ve done my own investigation into my situation. Papers are falsefied, According to the AKC “the moms number stands for an unregistered female that has yet to be viewed and inspected, this is NOT allowed and his paperwork would be void until we’ve been out to see her”
      I was just browsing bcuz I had gotten word that the same breeders were breeding again. Sadly, I stumbled across this article and the PDF version. One of the pet stores named in this report was my local store. I’m sickened and saddened to learn they were named in this report. I have the PDF version downloaded. I tried to give them the benefit of doubt, them being duped as well, pretty much how they presented it to me. They know of our situation, I made sure they were aware and spoke to the owner multiple times. But we got our beloved pup in 2012 and this is now coming out that they had issues in 2015 and previous years!!!!! I am half tempted to go there and slam this report down on the counter! I am so angry! I’ve been betrayed, lied to, and made a fool of.

  3. Joellen Beranek says:

    Stop breeding for GREED. There are so many puppies in shelters that need forever homes. Stop the breeders.

  4. David Bernazani says:

    Good job, HSUS! This kind of investigating is why I support you, and is extremely valuable for providing consumers information that they couldn’t otherwise get. Please continue doing what you do best! And hopefully soon, this kind of research will no longer be necessary.

  5. Joseph LeCompte says:

    Please go to Reformers – Advocates for Animal Shelter Change in NJ to read more about Just Pups and puppy mills

  6. halchka says:

    I have always admired & supported the HSUS but since Wayne Pacelle became CEO, it has been better than ever; bravo to you & your many, many dedicated volunteers, donors, whistle blowers which in return gives us even more strength to combat human greed. Than you.

  7. MJ McMillen says:

    I live in Lancaster County, PA & cringe & get nauseated every time I hear of puppy mills & horrendous treatment of animals. I don’t care what culture, religion or belief system you have NO ONE should be able to abuse, neglect, beat, whip, abandon, starve, mistreat animals & get away with little to no punishment. Animal abuse is a FELONY in all 50 states, & these horrendous people who would do this disgusting treatment to an innocent animal for the almighty buck need to be brought to justice, with punishments & fines high enough & strict enough to be a deterrent to further activity. Same goes for animal fighting!

  8. Jeanette Ortiz says:

    Please help shut down all puppy mills……these poor innocent animals are living in cruel a inhumane conditions!

  9. Jeanette Ortiz says:

    Please help shut down all puppy mills for good…..these poor innocent animals live in cruel and inhumane conditions!

  10. Linda Taffurelli says:

    I think you All are doing an amazing job!!! Let’s crack down on these puppy mill places and put a End to this once and for All!!!

  11. Tim Burns says:

    Thank you Senator Lesniak and keep up the great work

  12. Joyce Arciniaco says:

    Shut down the puppy mills and save thousands of lives.

    Also, we should have free spay/neuter, and rabies shots for all cats to start and save the millions of homeless cats.

  13. Marla says:

    Is there any way to see a copy of the investigation or list of stores that were investigated? All the ones listed are in northern NJ and we have a couple in southern NJ that are problematic. Check out PV Pets in Pennsville PLEASE!

  14. Madeleine Dyson says:


  15. Tonya says:

    Thank you for what you are doing -I pray for an end of all puppy mills and animal abuse someday

  16. Rene says:

    At the end of the day they are just dogs. Are you all kidding?

  17. Jan Fredericks says:

    New Jersey government should have stopped this a long time ago. Our taxes are being used for defense lawyers for Bridgegate and our governor’s personal agenda to run for Pres.

  18. kathy schoolfield says:

    Are you saying the dogs are getting what they deserve because they are dogs.
    I would take 10 dogs over 100 people. Dogs are truthful loving and don’t lie.

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