Puppy mill cruelty rears its head in Iowa

By on November 16, 2016 with 12 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

A photo this week of George W. and Laura Bush’s new puppy, adopted from the SPCA of Texas, reminds us that our previous Republican president and his wife are avowed animal lovers. Their compassion also reminds us that so many tens of millions of us love animals and want to be their protectors and not their persecutors. We thank the Bushes for making this clear with their decision to adopt, and for sharing the news.

Disgust with animal cruelty transcends any partisan divide, and that gives hope to many of us who are concerned about how issues such as puppy mills will be addressed when our new president assumes office. President elect Trump will appoint a secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that person will oversee an enormously important agency, including its Animal Care program. That team enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law in the United States that specifically regulates animal dealers, including hundreds of puppy mills. The Trump Administration can help reduce the suffering of dogs in puppy mills by ensuring that the Animal Care program is vigorously enforced, and by upgrading insufficient dog care standards.

But another problem at the USDA is the seemingly endless amount of time it takes to revoke the licenses of those who repeatedly mistreat dogs and fail inspections. We need much more administrative efficiency and more decisive action.

This week, dog lovers were shocked to see Gary Felts, of Black Diamond Kennel in Iowa, receive a slap on the wrist from a federal judge after failing to pay almost $20,000 in animal welfare fines and hiding the money that could have been used to pay up. Felts is still licensed with the USDA despite the judgement, and despite the fact that, over the course of 17 different inspections since 2010, he has been cited with more than 50 violations of the AWA, including having let bleeding and injured dogs go untreated. At his kennel, according to inspection reports, inspectors found severely matted dogs, dogs with mouse feces in their food bowls, dogs confined to rusty and deteriorating cages, and dogs left in freezing cold or rain without adequate protection. The HSUS has highlighted poor conditions at Gary Felts’ kennel in all of our last four annual Horrible Hundred reports. As the Des Moines Register asked in an editorial about Felts this week: “Why in blazes is the USDA content to dutifully catalog the actions of a serial animal abuser who has lied to the agency and failed to pay his fines?”

Many other licensed breeders have serial AWA violations spanning more than a decade, yet continue to remain credentialed. For example, the USDA found more than 90 dogs and puppies in need of medical attention during inspections of Donald Schrage’s Rabbit Ridge Kennel in Edina, Missouri, between April 2010 and October 2014, according to a complaint the agency filed in February 2015. Yet, as of October 2016, the facility was still licensed.

The USDA faces many difficulties in enforcement, including staffing shortages, a drawn-out legal process, red tape that delays casework, and not enough lawyers to swiftly handle caseloads once the worst offenders are identified. While the Obama Administration did some important policy making and enforcement work on puppy mills, there are still gaps in the law and in enforcement action. We hope the incoming administration will insist on finding a swifter process for cracking down on problem dog breeders that doesn’t involve tolerating years of delays while animals suffer.

As we’ve read, the idea of a very hostile appointee to lead the USDA is floating out there, and that would be a terrible development. Mr. Trump, please do not go down that road and select someone who has defended or championed puppy mills and other abusive activities. Steer clear of people like oilman and Protect the Harvest founder Forrest Lucas and former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, who, while serving as chief executive of his state, threatened The HSUS with these words: “We’re going to kick your ass and send you out of the state.” Their actions disqualify them from serving in any administration.

Instead, pick a person who loves animals and who will go out of his or her way to defend them.

We need baseline standards to protect animals from people who would abuse them. Deregulating this industry, or any other animal industry, would run in the opposite direction of where we need to go as a country and would leave vulnerable animals at the mercy of people without that instinct or value system.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Stephanie Schiff says:

    Petition for Iowa?

  2. Monika Dobo says:

    How and where can we write letters URGING The new elected Government to stay Proactive with ALL animal Rights? Can we start a petition or have an open discussion about How people like myself can help? This Blog is fabulous..but we ALL need to be accountable and continue to help the voiceless. Suggestions Please !! Thank you for raising awareness and ALL you do.
    Thank Heavens for people like You !!

    • kathy schoolfield says:

      Please keep the momentum going. If you can get rid of the Gary Felts and the law is behind you to do it I believe thing will fall in place. What is the need to have laws and fines and then ignore them when the situation arises. You have the power to put him out of business and you should do it. Don’t you think he is thumbing his nose at you and laughing.

  3. kathy schoolfield says:

    There probably isn’t a day I don’t look at the puppymills and wonder and plan how they can be closed and the angels of God can be rescued. How can Gary Felts get by with keeping all his animals and nor paying fines and not following the laws. why can’t his dog be confiscated and adopted by good people. They, mostly all are disobeying the law, so things never get better, just worse.
    The article said he got a slap on the wrist. Does nobody understand? Do they need a field trip to see the unacceptable conditions these animals live in. It isn’t only an eye sore, but it is sickness and death for the animals. Please do something soon. I really can’t understand why the LAW isn’t being followed. There are plenty of infractions that could close them down. Can’t that be done? No standard place to live and sleep, urine and feces falling through the wires [not supposed to be wire]. Cages are not up to the rules that were set. Why can’t there be a wide area raid to close them down and adopt them out. I’m sure there would be plenty of hands to help.

  4. Pat Ritch says:

    The new administration was just voted in by supporters worried about jobs and putting food on the table. Do you really think President Elect Trump will do anything for animals in need.

    • Rosemary Gordon says:

      Sadly, no. We live in Missouri, the worst state for puppymill dogs. We have 3 dogs now that were rescued from mills. The majority of Missouri votes voted to pass a PuppymillReform Bill in 2010. Our governor gave in to all this Ag buddies and overturned the law. It is just so sickening and disgusting.

  5. kathy schoolfield says:

    Don’t you think it’s time to get serious and bring him down? I’m sure he is thumbing his nose up at you, thinking he has the upper hand. Hold your ground and he will finally give up. You have a lot of people behind you. If I can help, please let me know.

  6. heather tisdale says:

    Hi there. I live in England & many of us want puppy farms abolished ,so then our ex PM Cameron decided that we need to have a beagle farm where they can be experiment on for different things , .I believe the petition that was made up along with my name too, is going to be submitted to downing street on the 25thnov Not sure of that date!! but it will be submitted to stop this from going ahead as non of us who are animal lovers want it to go ahead , I guess our MP at the time, didn’t like dogs but at the time when we were trying to abolish puppy farms ,he should have been there for us & help get it stopped Beagle farm indeed!!! he didn’t have brains to stop this from going ahead but, wanted it to happen , down right callous. I just hope we will win & stop it from going ahead .

  7. heather tisdale says:

    I welcome info on poor animals of all kinds who are innocently being ill treated by in humans these brain dead individuals need to be seen to for doing these despicable things . I will help you in signing any petitions that need signing as long as money is not a requirement as I am a pensioner & our government only give enough to pay bills & buy food I hope this will be okay with you.

  8. heather tisdale says:

    I am, with you on this & I have been signing on behalf of all animals here in England & even the way farm animals are treated & abused ,I have been signing on behalf of the dog meat trade since 2015 & now I am signing on behalf of bulls that are being killed for no reason if you are a f/b user you can sign for all animals on there & even for bulls to help fight the killing of animals

  9. kathy schoolfield says:

    President Elect Trump. Please help us beat the animal abusers. We are putting our money on you to help get rid of the puppymills that are abusing and killing puppies. They are not given any heat so a lot of the smallest puppies freeze to death because the millers won’t follow the laws. Can you imagine see dead frozen puppies and it’s all because a miller won’t follow the rules. From step one the millers break all the rules and who is hurt, the animals. They don’t pay their fines or correct their violations.
    Wayne Pacelle is he man you want as a comrade. He is honest and hard working.
    Kathy schoolfield

  10. Donato says:

    Please, can i receive the high resolution picture? I’d like to inform people in Italy about puppy mills, and i need some hig res picture to apply on the frames available in the cities. Please let me knoW

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