If a pet owner left her dog to freeze to death outside in the cold, or allowed an animal’s collar to become so embedded that the dog had a bleeding neck wound, or shot a dog simply because the animal couldn’t produce puppies, they’d rightly be charged with cruelty, and we’d give the prosecutor a medal for the effort. But too often, if that person is the owner of a licensed, “legal” puppy mill, they’re far more likely just to get a written warning. If we’re lucky, they get a fine.
For the third year in a row, HSUS researchers have taken on the painstaking and heartbreaking task of reviewing hundreds of pages of state and federal inspection records to uncover and expose 100 puppy mills that are responsible for some of the most shocking and persistent mistreatment of man’s best friend within that awful industry.
Our report, The Horrible Hundred 2015, revealed unspeakably cruel conditions at puppy mills in 16 different states, with Missouri and Kansas heading the dishonorable list for the third year running in having the largest number of problem dealers. They are followed, in order, by Nebraska, Iowa, and Arkansas.
Some of the violators include:
- An Ohio breeder who was found with seven dead puppies scattered on the ground, and was only cited by his USDA inspector for a housing violation (Andy Yoder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, Millersburg, Ohio);
- A breeder found with a Maltese in an outdoor kennel who was deceased and “frozen solid” in the bitter cold, while other dogs on the property had nothing but solid ice in their water bowls (Rachel, Virgel, and Vickie Davis, Davis Kennel, Seymour, Mo.);
- A pair of Iowa breeders who refused to let the USDA inspector take photos of a dog with mammary tumors because she was one of several dogs they intended to have “euthanized” by gunshot (Martin and Barbara Hammen, S R K Kennel, Jolley, Iowa);
- A breeder in Nebraska who received two official state warnings in 2014 for inadequate care of her dogs, including underweight dogs and dogs in need of veterinary care, yet who is listed on the American Kennel Club’s website as a 2015 “Breeder of Merit” (Alisa Pesek, Swanton, Neb.);
- A Missouri breeder who has been found with more than 90 dogs and puppies in need of veterinary care by USDA inspectors since 2010 (Donald Schrage, Rabbit Ridge Kennel, Edina, Mo.).
In the states with the worst patterns of violations, we see little will among the lawmakers to correct these systemic and persistent problems – instead, just more excuse-making or indifference. Kansas failed to pass an enhanced kennel inspection law earlier this year, and Missouri lawmakers have regularly proposed bills that would weaken kennel oversight rather than enhance it.
There is some good news: approximately two dozen of the problem dealers mentioned in one or more of our past reports have closed down after being found with repeated violations. But their cases often drag on for years before effective action is taken.
That’s why consumers can and must do their part, by refusing to buy puppies from pet stores or online – both common fronts for puppy mills – or from any breeders who won’t allow them to visit the kennel and see the conditions where their puppies are born and raised. Read the full The Horrible Hundred 2015 report or a state-by-state list of dealers named in the report.