Dogs rescued from a North Carolina breeder spotlight the AKC’s role in puppy mill suffering

By on March 12, 2020 with 83 Comments

The dog in the picture above exemplifies just how much is wrong with the way the American Kennel Club, which touts itself as a champion of dogs, goes about its business.

She was recently rescued from an AKC breeder in Caldwell County, North Carolina, along with more than 30 other dogs. When her rescuers found her, she was all skin and bones, riddled with parasites and lethargic. She was also pregnant with seven puppies, four of whom died at birth; the remaining three required hospitalization and round-the-clock care to survive.

This dog is now receiving all the TLC she needs at the Caldwell County Animal Shelter where staff members are doing their best for the animals. But her suffering hasn’t ended yet. North Carolina has no clear laws to protect dogs like her, in part because of the AKC’s strident lobbying against any commonsense laws cracking down on puppy mills. So, the court that will decide her fate could very well return her to the same mill from which she was rescued.

[Bill introduced in Senate to end worst practices in puppy mills]

It was an even worse story at another former AKC-linked puppy mill in Person County, also in North Carolina, that made the news last year, after the owner was found dead on the property. When the sheriff’s office called us for help, we found more than two dozen dogs in dire shape with no access to food or water, many surviving by feeding off the decaying carcasses of other dead dogs. The AKC had suspended the breeder for a year in 2015 because of the animals’ poor living conditions, but her website showed AKC registration papers for multiple dogs and litters, at least one of which was fairly recent.

That an organization which proclaims its devotion to dogs should be party to such animal suffering is outrageous, but it is not surprising. We have told you many times before about the AKC’s double standard on dogs, including its strong support for puppy mills. Some of the worst commercial breeders in our country wear their AKC credentials like a badge of honor, diverting consumers away from better sources of dogs, such as animal shelters, rescue groups and responsible breeders. In the past, we’ve unearthed numerous instances of AKC registered dogs at problem puppy mills where animals live in terrible conditions. The reality of their lives couldn’t be further from the pictures of well-groomed, healthy dogs that these AKC-approved breeders put out on their websites for public consumption.

The organization also fights laws designed to regulate puppy mills. In 2018, for example, the AKC helped kill a bill in New Hampshire that would have protected dogs raised, mistreated and neglected by unscrupulous breeders. The bill was introduced with the HSUS’s support, after our high-profile rescue of 84 Great Danes living in squalor in a mansion in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. We managed to successfully push for—and helped to pass–an upgraded commercial breeder law in New Hampshire last year, despite strong opposition from the AKC. This year, the AKC is working hard to undo the progress we’ve made in New Hampshire, and it continues to lobby against hundreds of other bills designed to protect companion animals across the United States.

[New Hampshire fight reveals American Kennel Club as a champion of puppy mills, not dogs]

We now await news concerning the fate of the dogs rescued in Caldwell County with some concern. The animal shelter there has done a tremendous job investigating, documenting and caring for them, and that has not been easy since many have serious health issues. It would be only right for these dogs to be released from the breeder’s custody so they can be adopted into loving homes, instead of keeping them hanging in legal limbo. Some of the breeder’s associates and former puppy buyers are rallying to her defense, but most of them never saw the conditions her dogs were in when they were seized. That’s one of the reasons we are sharing this photo now.

The breeder has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, and we strongly encourage the Caldwell County District Attorney’s Office to take these charges seriously, to consider additional charges, and to prosecute her. This so-called professional breeder is nothing more than a puppy mill operator and she should be held accountable for mistreating the animals in her care. North Carolina has bonding and forfeiture laws that should be used to require the breeder, not the shelter, to continue to pay for the needed veterinary, housing and medical needs of these dogs as the case proceeds. ​

We also urge North Carolina to pass a strong commercial breeder law to fight its puppy mill problem. Organizations like the AKC have deep pockets and the ability to win some lawmakers over, but it does not have the best interests of animals at heart. Americans are also increasingly demanding that their lawmakers act against those responsible for raising and keeping animals in misery and squalor, and puppy millers are at the top of that list. This is not a contest the AKC can win.


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  1. Elana Royer says:

    AKC is in the business of making money. Period.

  2. Wanda Rodriguez says:

    You are the ones that are greedy and with wanting the Deep Pockets you’re after money this is my daughter you’re going after and she has the all the vet paperwork where the dog was under vet care and was being monitored and you’re not telling the truth but it’s coming out because we want it to go to court and be done by jury you will not win you will not go ahead and keep lying fake news

    • Mike G says:

      That dog has been starved. How dare you come on here accusing people that are trying to help it of being greedy. Why would a pregnant dog be that malnourished? It’s clearly abuse and you will rot in hell for condoning it.

    • LeahMarie says:

      Are you saying that the poor neglected starved abused dog in the photo was under a licensed Vets care?

      • Carmen Shergill says:

        Agree and absolutely disgusting,why is it not a CRIME AND put these B…behind bars and a huge fine!!!! I just don’t get it????

    • NAWilson says:

      Animal abuse, which this was, is a Federal law and whoever did this should be arrested and jailed.

    • Judy Smith says:

      Was your daughter responsible for what happened to this poor dog,? If so a court hearing is needed and charges must be brought up…and serious prison time….is in order

    • Amanda says:

      You clearly do not understand that if a dog was under veterinarian care, it wouldn’t be showing its ribs. This doesn’t just happen overnight. This is malnourishment over time. Clear, obvious and intentional mistreatment. Someone who cared more for making a buck than the proper welfare of this helpless animal.

    • Debra Titus says:

      How can you say that she was taken care of? She was bred again and most of the litter died! You have to be fed to sustain life! I don’t care if it is your daughter. This dog didn’t get in the shape she’s in overnight!

    • Kathie Greer says:

      What do you mean this dog was under a vets care!!! This dog was starved!!!! Your daughter should never be able to own anymore animals!!! What a disgusting person she is!!!

    • Victoria says:

      If my daughter ever allowed anything of this nature to take place id be damned if I stood for her. The proof is in the puddin sweetheart. No vet would accommodate any canine to remain in such condition and especially if she were pregnant. Despicable and vile. Nobody needs 30 dogs on premise ! Who is really greedy in this situation? And who suffers?

    • Renee says:

      Why is this dog so skinny? Answer me that? I have the same breed and this is despicable. I hope the book gets thrown at her.

    • Jeannette says:

      This is disgusting awful how this poor dog was treated and the other dogs as well this has to stop this is cruelty

    • Susan McCracken says:

      Wow!! I can’t believe you think it’s ok for a dog to look this sick and pregnant!! I really hope people (your daughter) that abuse animals this way get thrown in jail for at least a year and NEVER allowed to own a pet in their lifetime never mind breeding them! If I’m on your daughters jury panel she would be GUILTY! I would never allow my child to treat animals this way…shame on you for defending her!

    • Valerie Tiner says:

      Your daughter is not a responsible breeder. It’s horrible what she has done to this innocent animal. It’s people like her that gives a bad name to breeders like myself. If one of my dogs looked even half like this I would be ashamed to show my face. You should be ashamed you defended her, if one of my children let this happen to their animals I would disown them.
      People if you buy a registered dog ask to see their kennels, ask them how often the vet checks their breeders, ask lots of questions and do not buy from them if you can’t visit their place.

    • lisa brown says:

      Weimaraners do not look like that. I know because we have had several Weimaraners and that dog in the picture was malnourished. She was obviously neglected.

    • Mary Harrington says:

      How did that turn out for you?

  3. Eilene Moore says:


  4. Eilene Moore says:


  5. Eilene Moore says:


  6. Pamela babcock says:

    This is so disgusting, please save these babies!!!!!

  7. Kim Wilcox says:

    The AKC, which used to be a respected organization is nothing but a proponent of puppymills. As long as they receive their money from any kind of breeder they dont give a shit about the dogs. When I hear breeders boast about being being associated with this corrupt organization it makes me sick. Its past time the cover on this dispicable group is highlighted for what it is. Garbage

    • NAWilson says:

      The AKC is useless when it comes to helping animal abuse. The AKC works from their own agenda, none of which is favorable to animals who are being abused. All those AKC people need to be arrested. Animal abuse is a Federal law!!

  8. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No podemos permitir mas abuso hacia los animalitos esto tiene que acabar ya no mas abusos hacia los animalitos

  9. Lori Erlendsson says:

    HORRIBLE! Anyone found raising animals in less than clean, healthy environments MUST have their licenses revoked pay for all treatment required to return these animals to full health and NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAVE ANY TYPE OF ANIMAL AGAIN! NOTHING ELSE IS ACCEPTABLE!

  10. Bet says:

    This is unacceptable

  11. Will Sparks says:

    It is crucial that HSUS and AKC work
    together and not at cross purposes in the
    interests of animal welfare. From my own 16 year experience in the dog world , I know AKC
    both as an organization & made up of individuals has the interests of our canine companions at heart. To suggest otherwise flies in the face of decades of evidence. As a lawyer I’m aware that on occasion HSUS approved legislation sweeps too broadly and would eliminate legitimate breeders. But to HSUS, is the goal the end of all purebreds?
    That is unacceptable to many Americans.

    • Nancy says:

      AKC needs to step up and expect and enforce higher standards for their breeders. Instead of sinking money into lobbyists who keep enabling these puppy mills to perpetuate these travesties, sink theoney into inspectors who will he their breeders account table and raise the bar in requirements for the living situations and vet care needed for these dogs.

  12. Janice says:

    Mills must be and has to be outlawed every where. This is inhumane in torture to these animals. To make them breathe and take their babies away unconscionable. They must be fed and cared yet just as you would care for your children they are just as innocent.

    • Sue says:

      On fortunately puppy mills are not illegal in some states. Some states have very low standards for breeding or don’t have the staff to even go out and check on these so called breeders. Missouri is the puppy mill capital. Ohio is not far behind. Indiana and Pennsylvania have problem with puppy mills too.

  13. Diane Mclaughlin Canova says:

    Please allow me to participate and promote and plead for clear guidelines for all AKC breeders. The abuse must stop!

  14. Deb says:

    How did this turn out? I’m so surprised this treatment of dogs like this is not s feline….lt is in other countries.
    It so disheartening to see this and not be able to do anything.
    I so hope those dogs rescued are still in your care.
    Deb Levander

  15. Paula L Cartwright says:

    We need to phase out the AKC .People have known for years they are a useless entity. Only catering to puppy mills in order to falsely endorse for a fee!

  16. Judy evans says:

    They may not have puppy mill laws but I am sure they have animal abuce laws and neglect laws. Go after the abuce for this one. Go after the puppy mill later.

    • Luanne McLaughlin says:

      I agree. It’s now a felony That monster

    • Carol Connett says:

      Please do not ever return this abused dog back to the puppy mill where she was rescued along with her 7 puppies. 4 of which died at birth,. So sad….this mamma dog had suffered enough in unbelievable living conditions and she was STARVING…

    • Arlene Miller says:

      Please report the animal abuses. We have laws for it.

  17. Charlotte Hagen says:

    I cannot believe that North Carolina in any way would not pass laws to stop this. People who abuse animals should be punished for these unspeakable acts. It is so sad that the helpless animals cannot speak for their selves,put their trust in us, and lawmaker, politicians etc. don’t. Shame on you .STOP PUPPYMILLS!!!! It is cruel and those that allow it are also!

    • Ruthann Trudeau says:

      I was sobbing like a baby after reading that post …. something needs to be done…. I think the real animals are the people that do that to these poor dogs !!!!

  18. Steph says:

    Akc is a registry service. They do not condone puppy mills and do not check every breeder that registers a dog. Pet safety is the job of the breeder, animal control and the humane society.

    • Jeff says:

      Well then they need to check on the breeders…shame on the AKC for allowing this

    • Michele says:

      Obviously you didn’t read the parts about how the “AKC” lobbies AGAINST laws protecting dogs against crap like this. Shut up and go home to your AKC registered French Poodle and let people that care about animals worry about this. K?

    • Linda Ganter says:

      Then they shouldn’t be fighting for puppy mills to stay in business. They make a lot of money from puppy mills. Everyone should be vigilant and do the research required.

    • Cathy Davis says:

      You are defending them!? They must take responsibility for these atrocities!

    • Amy Wilson says:

      Then whst is the registry for if there is no quality control it represents?!?

      • Pam Kirby says:


    • sharlene matthews says:

      Well they should check every breeder. Show compassion, do you have animals and suppose the dog on the picture was your done. Think !!!

    • Helen M says:

      Maybe the AKC should check out the breeders as part of their mission statement! I would hope that they care about which breeders are worthy of their stamp of approval! When my husband has bought a new hunting partner, he has done extensive research online, at events, discussion with other hunters, but most importantly, in person!

      • Helen M says:

        And, before someone suggests that we rescue dogs by adopting from a licensed shelter, our home has included many rescued cats, dogs, and even a horse.

    • Lois Avery says:

      Then why are they fighting laws that will protect these animals? Give me a break.

    • JOYCE AIJALA says:

      Yet to adopt a cat from some shelters in Massachusetts, you will get a home visit and background check. People “buy” dogs and cats through ads on Craigslist because they don’t have the right stuff to adopt from a shelter which requires more than money.

  19. Linda K Russow says:

    Many tears were shed after reading this article. I have enjoyed attending the AKC/Royal Canin Dog Show in Orlando for several years. No longer will they receive
    my support.
    The AKC should prioritize the ethics of their organization over greed and deceit.
    It’s disgusting that lawmakers ignore animal cruelty and neglect as well.
    These canine victims have no rights and their owner/breeders are despicable.
    It will take generations to eliminate the atrocities inflicted on animals in this country, not selectively inclusive of domesticated ones, but also factory farmed animals, ‘sport’ animals, and wildlife.

  20. Michelle Carpenter says:


    • Ruthann Trudeau says:

      I can’t stop crying after reading several of the posted articles… how could mistreat these animals like that… it breaks my heart … isn’t there anything that can be done about these puppy mills and breeding these pour dogs the way they do

  21. Kenny Ingle says:

    Yes as I read this article about what the AKC doesn’t do, I ask the question, what do they do?

  22. Dawn smith says:

    I live in NC and I thought last year a law was passed that animal cruelty, neglect, abuse can be punishable as a felony. I know I’ve read about it happening. I will never again watch the dog shows. My heart hurts seeing this furbaby. I wish I could go help take care of them!😢😢❤️💔

  23. Laura says:

    My issue is with you! You jump right on the AKC is at fault! Where were you? Also AKC does not register every dog at every puppy mill because they are not in compliance in the way they care for the dogs what do you do to stop it so instead of making a name blame how about stepping up with your millions of dollars and going around the countryside and finding these puppy mills and shutting them down your self

  24. Gwen Shannon Simpson says:

    North Carolina is a pathetic joke when it comes to protecting or caring about animals…they still use the horrifying gas Chambers for God’s sake 😠🤯😥💔😞🙏😠🙏

  25. Wanda Sakalla says:

    This is absurd. This dog can’t go back. Please tell us how to stop it.

  26. Susan Furlong says:

    This must stop! People calling themselves AKC Breeders. Mill puppies. This is misrepresenting people that these are good breeders. Fine them, inform the public. Post pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. Amen

  27. Stacie Ensrude says:

    This is so sick, disgusting and EVIL!!!! What CAN WE DO to STOP this HORROR??? The AKC??? Really??? Steph (above) said that they do not Condone puppy mills but this article seems to prove otherwise!!! What is the truth and what can I do as only one person to STOP this Evil, greedy, ABUSE???

  28. Naomi Johnson says:

    NC and most southern states need spay and neuter laws that make anyone breeding dogs pay a very high fee to keep intact (breed-able) dogs and those with a breeding kennel pay a kennel fee. All dogs in the state should be licensed–inexpensive if spayed or neutered, and very high if intact. This will cut down on the cruelty of hunting dogs being overbred and dumped, puppy mills, and dog fighting. The revenue raised from licensing will generate money for officers to uphold the laws. We need a Commissioner of Agriculture ( GET RID OF Steve Troxler) who does not work hand-in-glove with good ole boys who believe that dogs hunt better if intact and unfed!!! We need a strong lobby to get humane laws passed that will stop this cruelty.

  29. katalina devine says:

    how is this the fault of the AKC?
    we all are against puppy mills, AND abusing neglecting dogs. nice try.

  30. Emily says:

    How in the H… can she be returned? I thought animal abuse was a felony in all states!!!!!

  31. Donna pothier says:

    I cannot fathom that this poor dog first, was treated like that while pregnant and if she is returned to the owner, who should be in jail, shame on North Carolina. I hope the AKC will wake up, and help shut down these puppy mills. But of course they would lose money. I guess that comes before the suffering of these dogs.

  32. Sonia S says:

    North Carolina has Senators like Tillis, who is a disgrace. He does not help with environmental problems, climate change and animal welfare. What a shame!
    Let’s keep the pressure! This is a very bad behavior for our country. Shame on those who allow the creatures without a voice to be tortured and abused for just plain gain. God help this corporation that is trying so hard to show the pain these people cause and the injustice they commit.

  33. Alice Gibbs says:

    I have lived in NC all of my life and this state is full of animal lovers. I am sickened to see we aren’t doing a better job of protecting these innocent dogs that deserve a happy, healthy life.

  34. T Vaccaro says:

    BE the voice of the innocent voiceless dogs… see something, Do something.🙏🏻😘

  35. Rhonda says:

    This is absolutely horrible!!!! PLEASE don’t send this dog, or any other back to that a-hole breeder!!! He NEEDS to be shut down!!!!!!! 😡😡😡😡🤬🤬🤬🤬🥵🥵🥵🥵
    These poor animals need to have rights!!! Their lives matter!!!!!! Is there anything we can do to stop this???

  36. Virginia Jones says:

    Unfortunately, North Carolina is a BAD place for animals, of any sort. The mentality is still more than a century behind, and we must publicize the horrible lives many dogs live in that state. No more.

  37. JEANENE HILL says:


  38. mary lupi says:

    This story needs to be seen by millions of people all over our country. If everyone shares this with their friends and it gets excellent television coverage as well as other media maybbe some people will wake up and band together to fix this problem.!!

  39. PatS says:

    Then the AKC should NOT lobby against proposed anti-puppy mill laws. If they’re not part of the solution, they’re part of the problem!

  40. Tina says:

    This is a Weimaraner. There is a huge network of Weimaraner rescue groups across the US. I checked Caldwell County Animal Shelter’s webpage and see nothing about these dogs. Have you, or the Animal Shelter, reached out to these rescue groups? There’s people on wait lists for these dogs. They could go to great homes, and in the past, these groups have been able to coordinate travel for dogs across many states to get to foster homes and adopted homes. Once in this network, these dogs will be adopted.

  41. Kelly wilferling says:

    I’ve seen a puppy mill in person. We don’t have any humane service in our county in Northern Indiana. We are suppose to call the police and they don’t do anything. Amish are the worst for puppy mills and no one , I mean no one does anyone about it. Then when they are done with them? They shoot the dogs. Amish should have a animal . They are just tolls to them. They are horrible with their horses too. The horse straps will leave marks in their skin where it is just raw. And the county will give another Amish to breed. Thinking nothing about it

  42. D Rosenlof says:

    I’m seeing lots of emotional comments but I do not see any information regarding any avenue that can be pursued to encourage local authorities/law makers to enact stronger laws to protect the animals. The community reading these posts have more influence that you realize and a coordinated effort by many can accomplish amazing things. It’s fine to be moved emotionally, but we really need to be moved to action.

  43. Carrie Elks says:

    Why is the state of NC that is issuing the license for the breeding kennels not inspecting them annually just like they do restaurants or other licensed facilities? If the breeders they collect money from were inspected and licenses pulled, fines issued and dogs that are not cared removed this would significantly reduce this issue in the state.

  44. Diane Martin-Brodak says:

    This is daughter ????
    She should be in jail.

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