We all know that puppy mills are shady; really shady. Besides making a living off of the suffering of living, breathing dogs; their #1 job is to deceive the public. Thanks to organizations like ours, we have made their lives a little harder in both aspects. Especially when it comes to exposing their shady business practices to the public.
In recent years, it has become a trend for cities (and now states) to pass legislation banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores from commercial breeders (ahem… puppy mills). Instead, these stores must get their puppies from rescues and shelters to help the homeless animals in their communities instead of aiding in the pet overpopulation problem. That sounds WONDERFUL, right? Bailing Out Benji has helped pass three retail bans in Iowa and our volunteers have helped pass bans in Minnesota, Arizona and helped with the state-wide ban in California, as well. But… Where there is a will, there is a way. And puppy mill owners sure have the will to want to make as much money as possible, while doing as little work as possible.
Case and Point…. The “new” K9 Hobo rescue out of Britt, Iowa. Haven’t heard of them? Me either! And they are literally just a few counties over from where we are located. They don’t host adoption events, they don’t have a facility, they don’t even have a Facebook page or a website. But, do you know what they DO have? The same address as one of the country’s largest puppy mill brokering companies. That’s right! Hobo K9 rescue is JAKS puppies, they even have the same owners.
Do you know what else they have? A 501c3 license with the IRS- yep, they are also a nonprofit organization.
FRAUD is the first word that comes to mind. The first year they filed with the IRS, they claimed less than 50,000 and that is solely because they became an official State of Iowa Business in September of 2016- so none of their reports are public. We are anxiously awaiting for their 2017 tax reports to become public, as we are certain they surpassed the $50,000 threshold.
But why become a rescue?
Loopholes, baby! It is all about the loopholes. Because Hobo K9 rescue is an “official” state licensed rescue AND they hold a nonprofit standing with the IRS, they can now legally sell puppies through pet stores in cities with retail bans…. Meanwhile JAKS puppies is still selling to pet stores in cities without retail bans. It’s the perfect crime. No one is going to take the time to track all of this down and expose the rescue/puppy mill- right? Wrong… Bailing Out Benji has been working on collecting all of this data since November/December of 2017 and we were actually able to work with the Chicago Tribune for a huge expose on this whole thing. Side note: one of our projects is exposing pet stores by showing exactly which puppy mills they are buying from, which is how we found this information out last year. You can view that info here.
Spilling the beans.
So where is Hobo K9 selling their puppies? To several pet stores all over the country; including Illinois, New Jersey, California AND even a “shelter” in Florida. So, here’s the rub.
Before an animal is transported out of state, a veterinarian, accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), must examine the animal for signs of “infectious, contagious or communicable disease” and, if no disease is found, sign the certificate for approval to transport.
Many breeders also sell to dealers, such as Choice Puppies (formerly known as Hunte Corporation) in Missouri, J.A.K.’s Puppies, Inc. in Iowa or Nebraskaland Pets, Inc. in Nebraska, who, in turn, re-sell the animals to pet stores throughout the United States. You will see that some of the breeders below are also dealers and buy puppies from other breeders and re-sell to pet stores.
The WORST Offender (so far) Pet Luv 8057 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL
According to the CVI reports that we have obtained from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, these are some of the breeders that Pet Luv has purchased from in 2014 and 2015 BEFORE Chicago enacted a retail ban stopping pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies.
- Steve Kruse, Stonehenge Kennel. West Point, Iowa- 156 adult breeding dogs (down from over 800 on last inspection). Kruse runs one of the largest puppy mills in the country and sells to pet stores all over the country. He was named one of the Horrible Hundred Puppy Mills several times and has a history of violations including: Injured/Sick/New dogs (with no vet and no quarantine), extreme hairloss on dogs, open wounds, eye discharge in many dogs, abnormal eyes, matted fur, excessively chewed/worn wood in kennels, many dogs in kennels that were excessively small, no excercise plan, fecal matter mixed in with dog food. To view more information on this truly horrible puppy mill, click here.
- Randy Stoen, Dows Iowa- 62 adult breeding dogs. Stoen is a very dangerous puppy mill owner in Iowa. Not only does he have horrible violations, but he has threatened to kill USDA inspectors that come on to his property. Some of his violations include: Threatened physical and verbal abuses to inspector. Threatened to stick needle in their neck and shoot them with a gun, No IDs on the adult dogs, Dogs had chewed holes in walls, rusty chainlink/poles/pipes, excessive feces, medical violations including: male Japanese Chin with green mucus covering eyes, excessive matting, male cocker with neck wound and sores on nose, male golden retriever with open wound on ear from debris hitting him during a storm. Identification violations: 36 dogs with no official IDs. Housing violations including: a golden retriever in an enclosure with cattle panels that allow the dog to stick its head through the openings, excessive rusting, chewed doors with sharp edges, excessive feces build up. To view reports on the Stoen puppy mill, click here and here.
- J.A.Ks Puppies, Britt Iowa- (Broker). 97 puppies, but has had hundreds of puppies at one time before shipping them in semis to pet stores.
But NOW , they’ve “cleaned up their act”. With this retail ban in place, they can no longer sell from horrible puppy mills anymore.. Right? Wrong.
In 2016, only a few weeks after getting their rescue license JAKS started selling puppies to PetLuv again, only this time as HoboK9 “rescue”. That first year, they sold 27 dogs from Hobo- many of which are the same breeds as the ones sold by Stoen and Kruse that we mentioned above.
But wait, 27 dogs doesn’t sound too bad? Maybe we are reaching… Until we continued our journey down the rabbit hole that is Hobo K9 “rescue”.
In 2017 Hobo K9 sold 608 PUPPIES to PetLuv in Chicago. 608 puppies, that is almost 2 puppies sold a day. NO reputable rescue would ever have that many puppies in one year- nor would they let pet stores sell them, but that is besides the point. (In January and February of 2018, they have already sold almost 60 puppies to PetLuv too) .
ESCONDIDO PETS- 200 E. Via Rancho Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025
In the past, Escondido pets has admitted to buying from the Hunte Corporation. Until late 2016, the Hunte Corporation was one of the largest puppy brokers in the entire country. It was said to have sold over 100,000 puppies to pet stores each year. Hunte (now Choice Puppies) is the largest supplier of Petland stores across the United States, as well as many others. To view an undercover video taken at Hunte, click here.
Now, in October of 2017 a beautiful thing happened. The Entire State of California passed a retail ban outlawing the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores! While it won’t go into effect until January 2019, pet stores like Escondido are working quick to find their own loophole… And because JAKS had their brand new rescue license, a new team was born. Escondido now has a new relationship with someone who can walk them right through that retail ban.
In only January and February of this year, Escondido has sold 30 puppy mill puppies from Hobo K9/Jaks; which is significantly lower than the PetLuv. Please keep in mind that the pet stores in California still have another 5 months until the 2019 retail ban takes full effect and is still currently able to sell puppies from other puppy mills.
As we travel further down the rabbit hole that is JAKS puppies/Hobo K9 rescue, we also found out that they are supplying Bark Boutique & Rescue 40820 Winchester Rd Suite 2320. Temecula, California with puppies in hopes of creating a partnership before the retail ban in California takes full effect. Did we mention that the puppies being sold by JAKS/Hobo to the stores in California travel over 26 hours just to arrive from puppy mill to pet store? That time doesn’t include stops the driver makes and an overnight stay somewhere- that overnight stay doesn’t mean the dogs are let out of their kennels either.
Now we move to the East Coast…
As more and more cities are passing retail bans, two states are really leading the pack on this effort- New Jersey and Florida. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that these puppy mill-turned-rescue operations are sneaking into these states before the bans are everywhere. In New Jersey, we have been working alongside Alan Braslow and his team of advocates in New Jersey to shed more light on their pet store/puppy mill problem.
Shake A Paw 2195 US-22, Union, NJ 07083 has routinely used some of the worst puppy mills in the entire country. These are facilities with hundreds of adult breeding dogs, numerous violations and many of them have even made the horrible hundred puppy mill list over the years. To say Jeff Morton, owner of Shake A Paw, isn’t picky about where his puppies are coming from is being generous. Morton makes himself present at many city council meetings around the state of New Jersey to try and dissuade councils to pass retail bans that would stop businesses like his from supporting the puppy mills that they do. He even claims to be “not for” facilities that advocates describe as puppy mills. You can view his testimony here. Shake A Paw has been buying puppies from JAKS/Hobo since 2016, mere weeks after the puppy mill decided to become a licensed “rescue” here in Iowa.
What is even more tragic, is when our research led us to the next offender. This business has imported over 200 purebred/designer, 8 week old puppies in 2017 alone. In order for those puppies to arrive from puppy mill to
pet store rescue, they have to travel over 21 hours in the back of a semi or a cramped van. Yes. We meant to cross out pet store. These puppies are being imported from Iowa to Florida to be sold by a “humane society” and they only accept cash or money order.
East Coast Humane Society, 503 Tamiaimi Trail, Venice, FL 34285 . We reached out to the director of ECHS, Cindy Johnson, and she never returned our emails. As you can see, in this CVI data, the box marked “sale” was checked off, implying that money exchanged hands for the purchase of these puppies.
Back to the source.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
(Jolene) Noethe of (JAKS/HOBO) referred questions to a spokeswoman, who did not know about Hobo’s existence until Tribune reporters called. Initially, spokeswoman Mindy Patterson (Calvary Group) told the Tribune that the public should be wary of nonprofit dog rescues because they have no federal oversight and sometimes import diseased animals from other countries.
“The ones who you are wanting to investigate are those who consider themselves quote-unquote rescues,” said Patterson, who also is president of The Cavalry Group, a Missouri-based organization that advocates for animal-related businesses. “They are unregulated (entities) for providing these animals.”
Another Cavalry spokesperson later stated that Noethe and Dolphin opened Hobo K-9 Rescue in direct response to the Chicago ordinance, but he declined to say how the puppies come into the rescue’s possession. Like most canine dealers, J.A.K.’S purchases the puppies from breeders, has a local veterinarian clear them for interstate travel and then resells them to pet stores.
So what can be done? Now that the public has been told through legislation in these towns that puppies in pet stores CAN’T come from puppy mills, the general consensus is that it is safe to walk in and “adopt” a puppy- and that is what the pet store is banking on. As animal advocates, it is not only our job to continue exposing the shady practices of pet stores and puppy mills, but to continue with educating the public about how to humanely and ethically acquire a pet.
Here are few tips to avoid supporting puppy mills through pet stores.
- Is there signage in the store connecting the pet store to a rescue or shelter? Pet stores are proud of their rescue partners and would have flyers, business cards and signage pointing out the relationship.
- Is the rescue or shelter hosting adoption events at the store? Shelters and rescues jump on the opportunity to host adoption events where the public can meet their adoptable animals face-to-face. Legitimate rescues and shelters would be actively hosting adoption events to ensure their pets are seen and find their forever homes.
- Does the rescue or shelter have a Facebook page, website and use pet adoption websites? Legitimate rescues have all of these things. All of them! Fact checking their existence is as easy as picking up your phone and searching for them. But it is up to you to do just that.
- Is the rescue in your area? Rescues don’t ship their puppies to other states to get adopted site unseen. And if they do, they aren’t legitimate. If you are in a pet store and the puppies are being sourced from out of state- RUN, don’t walk away.
- Are there adoption contracts for the animal and are they fully vetted? Again, legitimate rescues and shelters do not send out unaltered puppies/kittens to be sold to anyone who walks in with money. They also require adoption contracts to ensure the pet is going to a forever family, with a return clause in case it doesn’t work out.
If you have any questions regarding the research done within this article, or you want to know more about where your puppy came from, please send us an email and we will get back to you.
With your help, we can put an end to puppy mills!
The cost of obtaining this CVI data can be extremely costly, if you can send a donation to help us continue our important work in exposing pet stores and puppy mills, we would greatly appreciate it!
Bailing Out Benji is 100% volunteer based, meaning that no one is reimbursed for their time or efforts. As you know, we are dedicated to raising social consciousness about various animal welfare issues, mainly puppy mills, in order to create a more informed public who can demand change.