Horrible Hundred report highlights problem puppy mills in the U.S.

By on May 14, 2018 with 45 Comments

A Chihuahua with a large, open wound dead in her cage. Underweight dogs with their ribs and hip bones showing. A Nebraska breeder who euthanized dogs just because they had burrs stuck in their fur and he didn’t think they were worth the trouble of grooming. An Ohio breeder who left injured dogs bleeding and limping all day without calling a veterinarian. These stories sound heartbreaking to an animal lover, but they are only a few among dozens of similar incidents uncovered in the Humane Society of the United States’ sixth annual Horrible Hundred report on problem puppy mills, released today.

Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in our report, for the sixth year in a row, followed by Ohio, where we are working to place a measure on the ballot that would require humane standards of care for breeding dogs. Iowa and Pennsylvania came in at number three and four for the most puppy mills in the report. Other states in the report with more than five breeders listed are Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska and New York.

Each year, researchers in our puppy mill campaign spend hundreds of hours sifting through federal and state inspection records to bring you the Horrible Hundred report. We do this because the public needs to know that puppy mills are still a problem, that we need better laws and enforcement to end their cruelty, and that puppy buyers need to be part of the solution, by refusing to purchase from breeders they haven’t met and screened, or by choosing shelter adoption instead.

[Read the full 2018 Horrible Hundred report]

But this year’s report was brought out amidst unprecedented challenges.

That’s because last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture redacted breeder names, kennel names and license numbers from its public inspection records. So while federal and state inspectors have continued to find conditions in puppy mills that are just as horrific as those in our prior reports — including dogs with grave injuries, animals standing in their own filth, and dogs exposed to the bitter cold and smoldering heat without adequate protection from the weather — this year, we couldn’t easily identify the puppy mill operators because that information was not available, as in prior years.

Despite this, our resourceful researchers succeeded in identifying more than half of the breeders and dealers who appear in this year’s report, through state inspection records, news reports and other documents. The remaining were listed only under a city and state, or with a likely name we linked using other research methods.

What’s also shocking is that the agency has not revoked a single pet breeder license since the publication of our last Horrible Hundred report in May 2017 – a fact the USDA confirmed to our researchers by email. Compare that to 2016, when the USDA revoked at least nine puppy mill licenses for chronic noncompliance.

We have seen other troubling moves from the USDA in recent months, including a potentially disastrous proposal to allow third party groups to inspect puppy mills and other types of animal dealers. This move could allow industry groups with strong ties that have a financial stake in perpetuating puppy mills, such as the American Kennel Club, to be part of the inspection process, effectively putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Several of the Horrible Hundred breeders in this year’s report are associated with the AKC. And just last month, the USDA even sent a letter to licensed dealers stating that they were considering announcing some inspections in advance – a stark departure from their usual practice, and one that will surely result in violations being covered up before they can be documented.

Every year, when we list the Horrible Hundred, we hope for the day this list will drop down to zero. But that can only happen when we can count on the USDA to do its job without unfair influence, when state and federal laws are stronger, when swift enforcement becomes the rule instead of the exception, and when the public refuses to buy puppies from pet stores, online sites or other sources that allow breeders to hide the true conditions in which their puppies were born and raised. Until then, this report is a reminder that we have a long way to go before the suffering of dogs in puppy mills is a thing of the past.


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  1. Frances Leard says:

    This is a sickening outrage and this cruelty must be stopped. Close down these horrible places and put severe laws in effect.

    • Jeanette Branco says:

      They need to close down these places this is horrible, it breaks my heart to hear about these awful things that haopen to these beautiful animals.Please close them down.

    • Lori says:

      Many of these puppy mills are hard to find because the people doing this keep their cages hidden from view and most of the time the public doesn’t even know it’s going on in a house or a backyard. The people doing this know how to keep it hidden and they don’t get caught unless someone figures it out or someone who knows it’s going on speaks up.

    • kelsey says:

      that is very true

  2. Michele OBrien says:

    Hello… Throughout my lifetime I have had dogs most of which have been adopted and a couple of dogs that I found. When the owners did not come forward I kept them. The dog I have now, my precious little long coat Chihuahua Matilda, is from a puppy mill. A pet shop tried to sell her and the price kept going down because people kept returning her. The reason they kept returning her is because upon taking Matilda to their own veterinarian they were warned that going forward Matilda would need surgery on both rear legs. She had 2 luxated patellas that were a grade 1 at that point. To make a long story short Matilda ended up with a rescue group. My own precious dog had passed away several months previous to this and I was never getting another dog. Then I saw a Matilda, her story and the rest is history. Although I was aware that she would need surgery on both rear legs I didn’t care. I loved her. Matilda and I were both fortunate that she was able to avoid the surgery till she was 6 years old. Now both legs have been taken care of. She is now 9 years old. The purpose of this comment is to mention that buyer beware…. Dogs from puppy mills often have problems that you will end up dealing with. Also If you’re going to buy from a pet shop your encouraging puppy mills to continue. Please know times are changing. The Pet Shop that originally offered Matilda for sale now does rescue work. There are people who come to them who want to relinquish their dogs and this particular Pet Center puts the dogs up for adoption. This is a much better way to do business and they have been successful doing this.

    By the way on another note… Those people who bought Matilda from the pet shop and then relinquished her because of the luxated patellas shouldn’t own a dog anyway. Invariably through the lifetime of your dog you will run into medical problems with that dog or any animal for that matter. If you don’t want to treat the dog as a family member please…. Do the dog of favor walk away.

  3. Renee Arment says:

    Only 9 eh? Never been to the heart of Lancaster County I see! Nevermind, don’t visit, too heartbreaking, just talk to Ms. Tullo (sp?) you’ll get LOTS more for your list!

  4. Dachchund Parent says:

    I watched the kennel on Oxford MA since about 2000 when my daughter went to work there, she reported things to me and I used to see the trucks from out of state coming in with loads of babies while i waited for her to get out of work. She knew about sick dogs, freezers full of dead dogs, they had her treating some of the sick ones, and there were a few she actually got from them because they were older and were going to be put down for various reasons, but we knew the reasoning was that they were just too old to sell. stuck in cages with little room to move, never mind have babies in, it was and still is disgusting. we like i said saved 3, a small lhasa who went to a good home, and two bassets at different times. they too went to homes but were dead within a year, one to an aneurysm and the other to heart failure. at least they got some time to be loved. I was in rescue at the time so we kept my name out of anything or she would have lost her job. she did end up leaving when she got pregnant, and never went back. you would think by now that that hell hole should have closed down! Oh yes we raised hell witht he state vets, the head of animal control for the state and anyone else but nothing ever worked. I have to assume there was something more going on and people were and still are being paid to look the other way.

  5. Janet Moskovitz says:

    Please close all puppy mills down. These concentration camps for animals are so cruel and heartless. Their pain and suffering is unbearable. We need to do the humane thing and stop these ugly practices. Only rescue animals should be sold in pet stores! Thank you.

  6. Michele says:

    Can you please share ways for advocates to take action for change? Are there organized efforts to move policy on these issues?

  7. Bellanira Tiguila says:

    Please help sing

  8. Barbara DelFava says:

    I find it very disturbing that there are so few legislators that can do the moral and ethical thing to protect our most vulnerable. What is so difficult about enacting laws to stop pain and suffering. Someone that has the clout should confront this legislators nose to nose and ask them why they have not passed these laws. It should be taped and put out for the public to hear and see. Bet if that happened they would move quickly so they could be voted back in office. If they won’t pass the laws then obviously abuse, pain and suffering is okay with them.

  9. Mrs Bernal says:

    I’m a dog lover and anybody who Abuse’s a animal regard less is hella wrong if I saw a person abusing a animal I would help it animals can not talk and we need to be there voice

  10. Carol Downing says:

    Yes please don’t buy from Pet shops it just makes this problem worse. There are many unwanted animals needing good homes. The Dogs Trust is always a good place to start. There should be laws in place to protect these dogs and stop this from happening.

    • Linda Jouzaitis says:

      What is the “Dogs Trust”? What do they do…?

      Isnt there ANY existing organization that we can join or support, to put more pressure on policy and lawmakers to end puppy mills as they now exist?

      IF so what are they?…and how can we contact them?

      I have never seen or heard of a petition that could be presented to lawmakers, does one exist???


      • Sandra Naquin says:

        Yes, but they are obviously too lazy to do their job or push the issues. There is PETA, SPCA , HUMANE SOCIETY & many others I’m sure !!! They should be pushing harder. I can’t see much good they are doing but they always want donations. They should be pushing to get some laws made & enforced !!!

  11. Nancy Sasso says:

    Our sweet Lola, a chihuahua, came from a well know horrible puppy mill in Ohio. Amish farm. She was sent to a pet store in Middletown NJ. My son not knowing this store sells sick puppy mill dogs purchased Lola for $1,300.00 dollars. They told him she was from a good breeder and pure bred. ALL LIES. After 4 months Lola was going blind and suffering seizures. We rushed her to an animal hospital where they told us Lola had Necrotizing Encephalitis and she would die very soon. She wasn’t even 2 years old and she was our first dog. We took her home and tried in vain to save her but we had to euthanize her. I reported the broker and pet store to the USDA and they did NOTHING. In my opinion they were worthless. Especially when they gave this horrible broker his licence back. We love and miss Lola every day. The Pet Purchase Protection Act was signed into law in memory of our sweet little Lola. You didnt die in vain lola. Mommy fought to change a law for you.

    • Sandra Naquin says:

      Never shop, rescue or adopt. So many pets on death row in shelters because they have no home of their own. Very sad & sickening !!!
      I cry almost every day over these pets that give humans unconditional love .

  12. Laura says:

    ALL puppy mills (and animal breeders in general) are PROBLEMS. Horrible ones. ALL puppy mills need to be effectively outlawed and prosecuted for animal cruelty as well as all their horrible effects on dog rescuers. Get on it, HSUS. The animals have existed in those absolute hells for far too long.

    • Sandra Naquin says:

      Agree 100 %. This should never be allowed to use & abuse these innocent fur babies . Most people can barely take care of themselves, so they sure as hell don’t need to have a pet. Like humans, they need all the same things & they are not meant to be disposable . So sad when owners surrender their pet to a shelter because it is getting old. Are they too stupid to realize that the senior dogs rarely get adopted & end up being euthanized. The last place to bring them is a a shelter. This is a heartbreaking horrific situation that needs to be stopped Millions are killed by no fault of their own , shameful & disgrace !!!

  13. Linda Begovich says:

    What’s it have to take for our Politicians to close down puppy mills. A female dog is used over and over to have puppies till they die. I’m not sure that our Politicians realize that. It’s horrible and do they not have any compassion?? All the state’s need to address this issue. Missouri is a State that needs to end puppy mills as do others.

    • Sandra Naquin says:

      The animal welfare organizations should be pushing to stop this inhumane & cruelty to our fur babies !!!

  14. Teresa says:

    Last year we adopted a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill here in Missouri. When we first seen him you could count every rib and bone in his little body, hair was matted, smelled terrible, was scared to death of everything and anything. It was terrible how he was treated. Today he’s a chubby little fellow, very loveable and a lap dog, only bad habit he still has is barking at everything, is scared of our grandchildren and they’d love for him to play with them. Maybe in time! Did I mention he loves to be sung to and cuddle. His name is Oreo as he is a black and white poodle 3 years old,
    These awlful puppy mills need shut down and never to have a dog in the home or etc, the rest of their life……..treat these puppy mill people like they have treated dogs of all breeds. Shut them in cages and see how they like it,
    Enough said………..

  15. michele Robinson says:

    Have been in touch with the ASPCA will going to suck puppy’s that I purchased. Did not know what a puppy mill was owner of pet store said there’s no such thing as puppy Mills. Obviously that’s a lie. Now I am fully aware of what it is. I have a ported to the appropriate authorities as well but when it comes to the AKC they send me a form to fill out cars on the phone they said all we take this very serious. In order to report it and fill out that form I must join and give them money 1st? What? This all needs to stop there just in for it for the money they don’t care about the dogs

    • Sandra Naquin says:

      Agreed. They are used as living money making machines & forced to have babies. They need to get off their lazy asses & get a real job !!!
      Always adopt or rescue, NEVER SHOP !!!

  16. Askjel Madalhar says:

    We have a puppy mill right across the street from here. Numerious animals are crowded in very small make-shift cages outside, on the dirt both summer and winter. The Puppy mill is in Corvallis, Montana. The local sheriff has visited and seen these conditions. I our County ( Ravally ) all that is required is that they have access to water. Between 10 and 30 dogs can be heard winning crying and barking 24/7 all year long. Some weekends they go to Missoula and leave the animals unattended.
    After three years of complaining and twice petitioning our local commissioners by many local residents. Nothing has been done by the local county commissioners. “We do not like passing ordinances here” is their stance.
    They breed these dogs here and sell them out of another facility in Missoula.
    What can we do to help these poor animals and end this cruel suffering.
    Please advise and help!
    Thank You

    • Sandra Naquin says:

      Keep complaining until somebody listens. Contact your state representatives , governor & all government officials, your state SPCA , HSUS , PETA , anybody you can find that will listen. Raise hell! You have to be their voice because they have no voice & need humans to stand up for them .

  17. Mary Koomjian says:

    Dreadful treatment of sweet animals. This post and all comments have made me determined to look into the laws in my state, and the Federal Laws. Disgraceful that the USDA allows this to continue and now is becoming even more secretive & protective of the abusers. This is wrong.

  18. Ivvy P says:

    It’s disgusting but not surprising to hear about the incompetent crooked USDA ……favoring the perpetuating abuse, neglect and inhumane conditions some poor animals must endure to fill the pockets of some greedy cowards that believe they are doing nothing wrong by running those house of horrors. Shame on the stupid uneducated buyers that continue to support Mills when there are thousands of animals in shelters waiting for an opportunity to find loving while hundreds are dying on kill shelters. How absurd and ignorant our stupid laws are, let’s turn a blind eye to be just and do the right thing….way to go corrupt USDA!!!!

  19. S.K.J. says:

    I appreciate this group and all others
    exposing these horrible puppy mills.
    I’m sure there are kitten mills too.
    however,this very media that’s giving you space to print these exposure
    reports also sells space for advertising
    many different puppy sales/puppy
    farms and occaisionnaly kittens.I mean the Internet or google.

  20. LLSTAr says:

    I’m destroying #mills. It’s time to truly rescue. This?? Still in 2018 under my star?? Shameful Shameful Shameful abuse is returning back to you. Treat them well from this point on and let us relocate them to new places. She’s watching,

  21. Sandra Naquin says:

    Agreed. They are used as living money making machines & forced to have babies. They need to get off their lazy asses & get a real job !!!
    Always adopt or rescue, NEVER SHOP !!!

  22. Sandra Naquin says:

    Lara Trump along with a couple of others in government is looking into trying to get something done about these puppy mills. We all need to stand up & share our concerns & disapproval on these cruel things going on. We need to be their voice . All puppy mills need to be shut down because these places are just in it for the money. There is no way they love or care about these fur babies & they deserve so much better !!!

  23. Faith says:

    The laws are in place in many locations why are they not enforced? Who is getting paid off. These animals don’t deserve to live and die like that.

  24. kelsey says:

    that is very true I don’t think she would have made it very long

  25. Yvette Vieira says:

    Puppy mills and dog breeders are NOT the same thing. I breed great danes. I have 1 female at a time, they live with me until the day they die (my last female lived to be 12) my dogs are my family and so are their babies. I micro chip the babies before they leave my home. I have a health guarantee, a return contract, a spay/neuter contract and my females have 1 litter a year and no more than 3 litters total. I stay in contact with everybody that has one of my pups and in 16 years have only needed to repossess one puppy because i do my research before I allow someone to purchase a puppy from me. My adults are DNA tested, registered and have all their OFA testing done. They do not breed until they are 2 and are retired before they are 6. Not all breeders are pieces of crap. Some of us love our dogs and our breed and only allow the best of the bunch to produce puppies. A good breeder “yes there is such a thing” will never allow one of their pups to end up in a pound. And before you as yes i can be 100% sure none of mine do.

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