Dogs shot, starved and neglected: HSUS’s eighth Horrible Hundred report delves into the cruel world of puppy mills

By on May 11, 2020 with 36 Comments

Last year, a state inspector visiting Wendy Pets, a puppy mill in Seneca, Kansas, found 24 dogs had simply disappeared from the facility. When asked, a representative told the inspector he had “euthanized” the dogs by shooting them. Although he had been breeding dogs for years, he claimed “he wasn’t aware” he wasn’t allowed to destroy his dogs this way.

In Sturgeon, Missouri, a state inspector found the owner of TLC Kennels had left his dogs out in the cold with only blue barrels for shelter or on dangerous wire flooring.

And at Stonehenge Kennel in West Point, Iowa, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector found more injured dogs at a kennel with a long history of violations, making a total of almost 50 dogs found ill or injured on the property since 2015.

Although state inspectors cited the owners of Wendy Pets and TLC Kennels, none of the three mills were fined by the USDA, nor were their licenses revoked. That means all three of them can continue to sell to pet stores across the country.

These cases, as sad and shocking as they are, are just a few examples of the mistreatment animals continue to endure in these and other puppy mills that appear in our latest Horrible Hundred report on problem puppy dealers and breeders in the United States.

From starving dogs to animals with gaping, untreated wounds, to dogs who died “suddenly” of untreated illnesses, the report, sourced from USDA and state inspection reports, offers a look into a sordid and intensely abusive world where animals are treated as nothing more than profit-making commodities, where they are not given the most basic needs like adequate food and water, and where they are often disposed of cruelly once they have outlived their purpose.

We have been bringing you this report for eight years now, but the urgency to get it out has become even greater under the Trump administration because increasingly we cannot count on the USDA, which is supposed to ensure that animals do not suffer in businesses like puppy mills, to do its job. As I’ve been telling you on this blog, the agency tasked with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has drastically scaled down inspections of businesses like puppy mills in recent years.

Here are some other significant findings in our 2020 Horrible Hundred report:

  • For the eighth year in a row, Missouri had more problem dealers on the list than any other state. Altogether there are 30 dealers from the state on our list, but the state’s attorney general is currently taking some of them to court. One of these, a dealer named Cory Mincey, dodged 35 state inspections and was repeatedly found with sickly and gaunt dogs. Another, Marlisa McAlmond, had dogs who were severely emaciated with their ribs and spines showing.
  • Other states with multiple dealers in the report include Ohio with nine, Kansas and Wisconsin with eight each, Georgia with seven, Pennsylvania with six, and Indiana and Iowa with five each.
  • Almost one-third of the breeders in the report claimed some affiliation with the American Kennel Club, a dog registry that claims to support quality care for dogs, but actually fights laws designed to protect them.
  • More than half of the breeders in the report are USDA-licensed, which means they can legally sell to pet stores or online, sight-unseen. The other half are either state-licensed, or appear to be unlicensed.
  • Some of the dealers with egregious violations on their state records have not been cited for a single USDA violation in the same years that state inspectors have flagged horrible problems at these mills.
  • Several of the puppy mills in our report have sold dogs to Petland, the nation’s largest puppy-selling chain, which has been the subject of eight HSUS investigations for the mistreatment of the animals in their care.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an even more dire situation for dogs trapped in puppy mills. In late March, the USDA sent a notice to all licensees and registrants informing them that the agency would be “limiting routine inspections” due to the pandemic. If licensees do not want to participate in any inspection, they can simply tell their inspector to “come back another time.” This pause in routine inspections, with no specific end date, leaves tens of thousands of dogs who are already suffering in puppy mills at even greater risk. Many state agencies have had to pause routine kennel visits as well.

Many puppy mills also operate under the radar or in states with no licensing and inspection laws, which means animals there are never seen by an inspector and the breeder is never held accountable.

That’s why we urgently need strong state laws for inspections of commercial dog breeders and to end the sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores as well as online. Three states—California, Maryland and Maine— and more than 350 localities already have laws that prohibit the sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. We are working in other states to pass similar laws.

We are also calling on Congress to pass legislation including the Puppy Protection Act that would upgrade standards of care for dogs, and the WOOF Act that would make it harder for USDA-licensed breeders and exhibitors with severe and multiple Animal Welfare Act violations to get new licenses until they are in compliance. Further, we are supporting the Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act that would require all facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act, including puppy mills, to have emergency response plans for the animals in their care when disaster strikes.

But as consumers, you have the greatest power to stop the problem of puppy mills. If you are looking to bring a companion animal home, look to reputable rescue groups or animal shelters, which are using innovative ways during the pandemic to ensure animals in their care are placed in loving adoptive or foster homes. Or seek out a small-scale responsible breeder who treats their animals like part of the family. Internet sellers and pet stores are more likely than not to source their animals from puppy mills, and the only way we can root out this problem for good is for each one of us to refuse to support the cruelty with our dollars.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Brian says:

    What can be said about a person like Marlisa McAlmond “who had dogs who were severely emaciated with their ribs and spines showing.”

    • Renee Doan says:

      I agree. However, she’s a vile, evil, depraved animal abuser/murdering monster. She should never, ever own or care for another dog! Needs removed.

    • Arlene says:

      People like that must go to prison for 10 years,imagine what these people would do to children,seniors,others,STOP THE ABUSE,JAIL THESE PEOPLE,CHANGE THE LAWS,ALL ANIMALS ARE SACRED,I LOVE THE RESCURERS,THE HEALERSETC

      • Melissa says:

        Yes imagine if they were capable of inflicting the same pain on a human, the apple doesnt fall far from the tree.
        Why do the courts even give a person the right to open their mouth. In the case in Kansas?
        “I had 24 dogs and I thought I had the right to shoot them.” Wow mind bending.
        Maybe that awful soul needs to be in a correctional facility for maladaptive behaviors.

      • Emma says:

        Agreed I love animals way more than people

    • Deb Shapiro says:

      That she is pure evil. I rescued some of her dogs and these animals are so sick and will have a lifetime of suffering. Her veterinarian is just as culpable. Horrid creatures the lot of those wicked women.

  2. Al Nelson says:

    Animal abusers should all be in jail

    • Bud Haines says:

      You hurt an animal, you go to jail, simple as that. I can’t believe Petland is still in business, they should all be closed down,

  3. Cheryl gooder says:

    Why can’t puppy mills be outlawed and if caught doing, several years in jail and huge fines.

  4. Heide says:

    This has nothing to do with Trump as he has not issued a ruling to back off on inspections. This is the Federal Governments job but more so the states responsibility.

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you 🙏. It’s time for individuals and state/local governments to take responsibility instead of blaming President Trump. Cruelty to animals just started in 2017??? I don’t think so 🧐

  5. Angel says:

    Hopefully one day there will be no more puppy mills! I pray and hope for all this to end!

    • Renee Doan says:

      I agree 100% bar none!! They need to have a true heart for the care, love & well-being of animals. They have & feel emotions, hurt & anger.

  6. Ann Kasten says:

    Continue to share so that the names of the abusers become recognized by the public.

  7. Wendi Favreau says:

    I don’t understand how any kennel can keep a license and continue to sell any animal if they’ve had any case of neglect or abuse?! These people are profiting from the sale of these animals and should be held on a higher bar of care for them and should be incriminated if not!

  8. Marilyn says:

    We need to spread the word and join in the fight to stop them. We need to put pressure on all state official in every state.

  9. Angie mitchell says:

    This is beyond words …. how could the usda let these precious dogs be tortured like this … so saddening. These laws need to be enforced. Thought trumps new law stated that this is a felony .

  10. sheryl hashimoto says:

    Justice for animals. End animal cruelty!!!

  11. Barbara Hagerty says:

    Puppy mills must be banned. The treatment of these poor animals is heart breaking. The Amish in Pa have been known to run puppy mills. If so, how can the non Amish community tolerate the mistreatment of these poor animals. Please, if you know of a puppy mill, report it to the authorities and have the poor animals removed and treated

    • Renee Doan says:

      Agreed in spades!!! There has been a book out for years called Baby. Young woman went with her lady friend to a puppy mill.. it was in Ohio or Pa. She was beyond words & emotions to see what she endured. She saved a white-haired poodle, she named Baby. God Bless she & her Baby. I hope & believe I have the dog’s name correct. I apologize if I erred.

  12. Holly Hazard says:

    This guide will be invaluable as we lobby for stricter standards or an outright ban in Virginia next year. Thank you!

  13. DENISE RIPPEE says:

    Kudos to Humane Society L F for all you do to help save these precious animals. Puppy mills, roadside zoos, etc have been going on for all too long. What is wrong with the USDA that doesn’t do a inch of helping animals in need. Puppy mills need to be abolished forever, it is insane that these people get away with all their torture to these poor dogs. I saw a video on “Petland” and it brought me to tears. Very Very sick puppies/dogs and employees hitting and yelling at very small puppies who were very ill and needed veterinary care, heartbreaking as hell to watch. And “Petland” is still in business, sometimes I get frustrated donating money because nothing seems to happen or help. These animals only have us to help them, I pray these small advances are better than nothing. Thanks a million to HSLF and HSUS!

  14. Darlene O'Bier says:

    Letsclose down every puppy mill people just stop buying the puppies, if you want a dog adopt it get from a reputable breeder

  15. Jacki Scates says:

    I am looking for a very small dog. Gender or breed is not a problem. I have two Yorkies so I prefer to stay with that size. Under ten pounds. I am retire and live with my husband that is retire as well. Just the two of us. I live in Clio, Michigan. Between Saginaw and Flint. I have a single floor home and a full privacy fence in the back yard. I can provide references. I have a local vet and groomer. I have Care Credit and my babies are UTD on their vaccines.

  16. Donna Kessler says:

    We as a nation need to help protect animals. The USDA these days is more interested in keeping inspectors out of meat packing plants and slaughter houses. The lack of oversight in farming and animal welfare can be tracked to the Trump administration priorities. If the President made animal welfare more important that profit for industrial farms and wealthy donors then we would see change.

  17. Sonya Boyd says:

    If you have never been inside one of these puppy mills you cannot imagine how bad they are. One of our precious dogs was rescued from one. She had parvo. Although she survived that, she was affected for the rest of her life and died at the age of six. We had seen her struggle and struggle and finally had her euthanized. It broke our hearts.
    These mills meed to be shut down. The one our Penny came from was raided and shut down, but the breeder was allowed to keep some dogs! Disgusting!

  18. R. Doan says:

    Exactly! Same cruel, heartless act of agonizing pain, filthy water, dirty or no food should be done to these puppy mills & anywhere else…chained to trees in backyards & the list goes on. PLS RID PUPPY MILLS!!!

  19. Helen Hoag says:

    No animal will be protected including puppy mills under the trump administration. These politicians have been presented with these problems many times and have been ignored.

    • Shiva says:

      Dear Humane Society,
      Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to rescue animals.
      I just checked Craigslist online to learn that so many puppy mills who could not sell their back yard puppies, they would sell the poor innocent puppies through Craigslist and eBay online or other online websites, sadly. Thank you in advance for taking a heed about this regard as well. Thanks

    • Dana Scully says:

      Relax TDS sufferer. This has nothing to do with Trump. But I understand that people who can’t separate their emotions from logic will see it that way. This exists because people are stupid and greedy and don’t care about inflicting pain on another living creature. It has existed since the beginning of time and will unfortunately always exist. Do people kill? Do people rape? But we have LAWS AGAINST THIS! Lots of people don’t care about laws (GASP!) and don’t care about life and suffering and unethical behavior. We need more laws but ultimately people’s hearts need to change.

  20. Troy P. says:

    Horrible Hundred mentioned one mill in Alabama, my homes state. Lesson to be learned, the person in Brilliant, Alabama, shows that it’s not just in the Midwest, it’s here in the South. This same person was mentioned in an ASPCA article, which means this person is super cruel. Not as bad as bad as the one in Kansas where the guy shot the dogs, but still very cruel. Abuse happens anywhere. So sad for those poor pups.

  21. M. Anthony says:

    I would never buy a dog through ads in newspapers, Craig List, EBay; as well as Petland who sells puppy’s from Petland. I’ve also noted that many of these animals come from Amish farms. I live in Ohio and recognize the names as Amish.
    Don’t know why they want to make money this way- by torturing & neglecting animals. These animals never get checked through veterinarians. They don’t want to spend the money to have them properly examined & taken care of.

  22. Petra Hood says:

    People stop buying pets
    Adopt from shelters
    It would resolve a lot

  23. Ray says:

    I am a seventy-three year old retired federal law enforcement office over fifty years’experience in all levels of law enforcement and I will acquaint you with a very terrible fact of life once you start carefully researching serial killers you will find that everyone of them started with animals. So anytime I see anyone who is abusing any animal I would always mark them down/

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