Missouri: Puppy Mill Capital of the World

Written by: Mindi Callison, Founder of Bailing Out Benji 

If you have heard of puppy mills, then you have very likely heard that Missouri is the worst state in the entire country when it comes to them. Not because of the sheer number of puppy mills MO has (which is a lot; over 800 ), but how horrible they are, how many adults dogs are trapped and how many puppies are sold from puppy mills in this state to pet stores all over the country. Missouri is undoubtedly a very unsafe place to buy a puppy from and for the love of all that is dog, do NOT – I repeat DO NOT- ever order a puppy from a site that will ship a dog to you after putting your credit card in. Your purchases are likely coming from one of the over 800 mills in Missouri and are keeping the puppy mill industry alive and thriving. 

Beyond the generic “Missouri has a lot of puppy mills” ideology that many advocates know to be true, we wanted to share some research-based numbers with you to show you why MO is and will likely always be the puppy mill capital of the world.


Horrible Hundred Puppy Mills

Each year the Humane Society of the United States puts out a list of the worst puppy mills in the US after reviewing thousands of inspection reports and complaints made by consumers. This report is known as the Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill list. This is a painstakingly long process and requires a lot of research to narrow it down to just 100 of the worst. Would you be surprised if we told you that Missouri has topped the list every single year since 2013 when the compilation began? Many of the offenders of the HH list are repeat offenders and, you might be shocked to learn, that many of these same puppy mills are supplying pet stores with puppies. To view the lists, click here. 

Missouri has appeared on the Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill list over 118 times, equaling out to having 24% of the worst 500 puppy mills since 2013- and only 28 states have ever appeared on the list. On the latest 2017 HH compilation, Missouri appeared 19 times and 13 of those puppy mills were repeat offenders. Translation: USDA licensed dog breeders in Missouri are repeatedly written up for direct and non direct violations to the Animal Welfare Act, yet are allowed to keep their licenses, are allowed to keep their dogs and are allowed to keep profiting off of the suffering of so many. And, if you can believe it, the 800 puppy mills are what’s left over after the watered down Prop B passed in Missouri in 2010. Prop B forced over 3000 commercial dog breeding facilities in Missouri to shape up or leave the business. Sadly, the ones left are no better, they are just ‘okay’ enough to stay licensed. 

With almost 40,000 adult breeding dogs in Missouri alone, over a half a million puppies are literally being pumped out each year- but where do they go? Certainly Nick and Jane from New York City aren’t driving all the way down to Missouri just to pick up their puppy mill puppy. So how do these horrible facilities continue to stay in business? 

The Pet Store/Puppy Mill Connection

During World War 2 we saw the beginning stages of the puppy mill industry. Women needed an easy way to make money while their husbands were away at war and the farmers in the Midwest needed to find an alternate crop that would help sustain their families and their farms.   While a lot of these breeders were selling to families they knew, this created a new business model for department stores and mom and pop shops. They began bringing these puppies into their stores and selling them, inspiring the ever famous song “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”. It wasn’t until 1966 that the USDA even stepped in to begin licensing and inspecting these facilities and the Animal Welfare Act was born- if this give you any indication on how old and outdated those standards are. 

Fast Forward over 50 years and the dog breeding industry is still like the Wild West. Puppy Mills follow trends that the public is interested in and create new breeds based off of that. But how are they reaching their buyers? Through pet stores and online websites.

Most of you reading this live in America and what do we know about our culture? When people in our society want something, they want it now. The general public isn’t going to wait to find a reputable breeder, or wait to work with a rescue or shelter to find a dog that fits their lifestyle. Instead these people are going to puppy mill websites like “PuppyFind.com” , “NextDayPets.com” or the worst “PuppySpot.com”. These websites play off of that behavior and they will not only find the exact breed, gender and color of dog you want, but they will ship it to you, easy peasy! There is no meeting the parents, no checking out their genetic history or the facility they live in. Just a cash exchange for a living, breathing soul. Much like the pet store aspect of this industry, this anonymous exchange of puppies for money protects some of the worst puppy mills in the entire country. 

Pet stores are no better. You will often hear the pet store owners say they “hand pick” their puppies to sell in the store. Translation: They look through an order form and put a check mark by the breeds/genders of dogs they want. Legitimately, that’s how they decide which puppies they are selling based off of what sells well in their store. One of the projects our volunteers work on is requesting reports from departments of Agriculture in various states to pinpoint exactly which puppy mills are selling to pet stores. To view our research in full, you can click here , however we want to show you how many horrible Missouri puppy mills are selling to pet stores all over the country. Again, this isn’t the full list, just a few examples of bad Missouri puppy mills who are selling to pet stores. 

From Puppy Mill to Pet Store: 

Kim Coleman, TLC Kennels, Clinton Missouri. 193 adult breeding dogs. Very very very ill poodles with previous violations including: Puppies found entrapped in wire flooring; white dogs appeared brown due to soiling with mud and feces, Bloodied poodle found lying on her side, unable to rise; strong odors of urine and feces.  One of the repeat offenders on the Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill List. To view USDA inspection photos from this kennel,click here.

-Sells to: Beautiful Puppies in FLORIDA , Luxury Puppies in NEW YORK,  and LC pets in WISCONSIN .

Hazel Coleman, Dog N Ass Farm.  Lebanon, Missouri- 68 adult breeding dogs. Previous violations including: puppies feet passing through wire bottom flooring, matted hair, cockroaches, mice, buckets of feces, etc. To view USDA inspection photos,click here.

-Sells to: Puppy Plus in FLORIDA; American Dog Club (3 locations) in NEW YORK; Selmer’s Petland in NEW YORK

Darlene Whitman,O My Heart Kennel. Mountain Grove Missouri- 112 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: evidence of dogs getting powerwashed, use of expired medications, cold kennels. To view USDA inspection photos,click here.

-Sells to: Petland Davie in FLORIDA;   Petland Plantation in FLORIDA ; American Dog Club (3 locations), The Left Paw, Pups 4 Love, Bowwow Babies, NY breeder, Teacup Pups, Gabby Pets, Astoria Pets and Westchester Puppies in NEW YORK;  Furry Babies (4 locations) in ILLINOIS.

Elaine Wilson, Everton Missouri . 196 adult breeding dogs.

-Sells to: Puppies N Love (3 locations) in ARIZONA ; Animal Kingdom (2 locations) in ARIZONA; Trendy Pet in ARIZONA

Country Pets (Mary Foster and Cathy Griesbauer)  , Montgomery City Missouri- 281 adult breeding dogs. This breeder is one of the worst puppy mills in the country. In 2016 they were cited as being a massive puppy mill with more than 900 dogs had license for one property, but found operating second unlicensed facility.

-Sells to: Pet City (Colorado)

Judy Gray, Rothville, Missouri- 97 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: dogs with severe dental issues, wire cage bottoms so wide that the feet pass through, too small of kennels, dogs with eye issues. To view USDA inspection photos of this kennel,click here. 

-Sells to: Teacup Puppies in FLORIDA

Phil Hoover, Memphis Missouri- 364 adult breeding dogs.

-Sells to: Vanity Pups in FLORIDA; The Puppy Place in MASSACHUSETTS, Laughlin Kennel in MASSACHUSETTS; Puppies Plus in NEVADA; Petland Henderson in NEVADA; Pet City Baja in COLORADO; and Many stores in New York

Mark Landers, Promises Kept Kennels. Hartville Missouri – 224 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: dogs with blood on their necks, outdoor dogs without adequate bedding, broken wire poking into kennels, etc. To view USDA photos of this kennel,click here.

-Sells to: Petland Davie in FLORIDA;  Petland Largo in FLORIDA; TeaCup Pups in Forest Hills New York.

Jimmy Dowyle Powell, Jimmy’s Hilltop Kennels. Missouri- 68 adult breeding dogs and is one of the 2016 Horrible Hundred Puppy Mills. His violations include: Nursing mother dogs were underweight with hip and rib bones protruding; others had fleas and lesions, dogs with excessive hairless and specifically he inspection report stated that a beagle with five nursing puppies “was noted to have bony prominences, an obvious waist, and loss of muscle mass” with a body score of only 2 out of 9 (5 is ideal). There was no indication that the dog was under treatment for her condition. 

-Sells to: Puppy in the Window in ILLINOIS

This is a very small sample of all of our CVI research but it goes to show you that pet stores are enabling the neglect going on because they are making a huge profit off of the puppies they sell. You can see all of our research here


The Solution

Thank you Puppy Mill Free US for creating this image!

There is no one thing that will solve the puppy mill problem, but there are many small ways we can create big change. Across the country we have seen a rise in retail bans, both on the city level as well as the state. These retail bans require that pet stores sell dogs and cats sourced from nonprofit rescues and shelters, instead of selling from commercial breeders. This is proving to be effective in combating the puppy mill industry, as the some major players on the puppy mill side are working like crazy to lobby against our efforts. We are also seeing puppy mills trying to get rescue licenses to find loopholes in such retail bans- but more on that later. Even if you store doesn’t have a store in town, it is important to approach your city council to try and get a retail ban passed. Be proactive and stop the problem before it starts! 

Another successful way to combat the puppy mill industry is by talking about it! Tell your friends and family what puppy mills are and how to avoid them, write letters to the editor about puppy mills and, most importantly, don’t ever shop at pet stores that sell puppies. Every day we are voting with are money and it is vital to support the stores who aren’t enabling the puppy mill industry. Do you have a pet store in your town? You can start your own peaceful protest and educate the consumers who have no idea where those puppies really come from!

For a full list of ways to get involved, click here. We also try to expose and break down the common myths and misconceptions surrounding the puppy mill industry. You can view that article here


Dog Alley- Canton, Texas

This is our NEW billboard that is right near the infamous Dog Alley in Canton, Texas.

Did you know that backyard breeders and puppy millers often sell their puppies at flea markets?  Did you know that in Canton, Texas there is an entire flea market dedicated to selling puppies, piglets, kittens, and other animals? 

Photo Credit: Animal Angels

This flea market, known as “Dog Alley”, is held the first weekend of every month during Canton Trade Days.  Breeders from Texas and surrounding states, many of them unlicensed, peddle their puppies to their customers.   Unsuspecting customers may end up purchasing a puppy with severe health conditions (the market is known to be infected by Parvo) and supporting a breeder that is neglecting and possibly abusing their dogs.

 In 2013 Humane Society of the United States performed and undercover investigation of the market and found “lethargic, underweight, and sickly-looking puppies, animals without water in the high heat, and puppies for sale who were so young that their eyes weren’t open yet.” To view this report in full, click here.  

Photo Credit: Animals’ Angels

In addition, the organization “Animals’ Angels” also did an undercover inspection of Dog Alley, in which they noted, ” Investigators noted that multiple dealers had posted signs stating “don’t let the puppies lick your fingers,” and were providing hand sanitizer to potential buyers. Upon striking up conversations with several different sellers and visitors, investigators were advised that the Trade Grounds were known to be infected with Parvo, a highly contagious viral illness.  The virus manifests itself in two different forms. The more common form is intestinal, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite. The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death. The virus can easily be transmitted by just touching an infected dog and then touching another dog, as well as by simply walking over contaminated soil or infected feces.” You can read that full report here

We have since been able to connect them to one large puppy mill in Iowa by tracking government health documents of puppies moving across the state. Matt and Dana Ory of Dana’s Waggin Tales in Cantril, Iowa have 133 adult breeding dogsThey are regularly sending puppies to Dog Alley during the summer months. 

Obtained by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such

We at Bailing Out Benji are committed to exposing this to those that may want to visit the Market.  Our newest billboard is I-20, just outside of Canton.  Everyone attending the Trade Days from the Dallas/Fort Worth area will drive past and ask themselves “what are puppy mills?”

Texas also has a huge pet store problem. To view some of the pet stores and the out-of-state puppy mills they are buying from, click here.


Do you want to get more involved? Please consider sending a tax-deductible donation to help us continue our educational efforts. 



You can also follow our efforts on Facebook, or get involved with our Texas volunteer team here


I Can’t Fall Apart Yet

In 2017, Bailing Out Benji has rescued over 300 dogs from puppy mills across the Midwest. While our Iowa team typically handles the mill releases, breeders in Nebraska started reaching out as well. Our wonderful Nebraska volunteers handled these pick ups and got the dogs to their foster homes with our amazing rescue partners. Since this was their first time seeing a puppy mill up close, our team leader Dana wanted to document her experience.


I Can’t Fall Apart Yet 

©Bailing Out Benji , Dana Thelander


Dear Community,

I’ve met and interacted with demons, with humans that have no soul. With my stomach turning, heart pounding, and throat threatening to close up, I did it with a smile on my face and with commonplace chit-chat. Ears ringing and eyes attempting to take in my surroundings, but not able to fully comprehend that such a place existed, even though I know they do. Tens of thousands of them in our own backyards.

Smile. Breathe. Chat. Smile. Breathe. Chat. Lives depend on it.

I can’t fall apart yet.

If I’d met them in a restaurant, or a church I would have liked them as neighbors, as regular people, as part of my community, and it hits me that you can’t always recognize the soul-less among us. My mind continues to battle with itself trying to find the best in everyone, but knowing better. After spending years mending the broken pieces and the trails of their evil – I still can’t wrap my mind around it. I really don’t want to allow the acceptance seep into, and damage MY soul.

I can’t fall apart yet.

I pulled up the country road with my son. I pulled up the country road with my partner in a van in front of us. I pulled into the driveway, stepping out aware of the faces and jagged breathing of our tiny little army of 3. I recognize that faces have paled a bit, jaws are set, lips are formed in tight little smiles. In a cinematic moment the barking slowly seeps into my brain, increasing in volume as my consciousness allows the sound to assault me. Frantic dogs literally climbing up the chain link sides of their kennels. Eyes filled with desperation, all of them looking at me. Dozens and dozens of chain link cages.

We are standing in the middle of a HSUS Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill.

I can’t fall apart yet.

Work to be done. Get to it. Get the ones we can take loaded up. Consult how to move 3 -100 pound dogs out of a kennel that they’ve never once been out of in almost a decade. See the fear. Watch as they’re grabbed by their ears, necks and tails and strong-armed into crates in the van. No kind words. Can’t give ourselves away. No time to evaluate the ones we are loading but out of the sides of my eyes I see that there are a couple bad eyes, a crooked jaw, missing fur, an infected fly-bitten nose, a broken tail, a mama being pulled away from her pups that are being kept to be sold. We only get the older, ill and spent, all the others are being sold to other breeders. Maybe a few others will get out into rescue, but most will be sold to start their misery over in the same conditions, different location. In a different neighbors backyard. Collect the paperwork. Smile. Breathe. Chat.

I can’t fall apart yet.

The vans are loaded with terrorized animals. Get out. Pull away. Fast, but not too fast. When you’re running from the devil you have to be cool about it. Don’t give yourself away. Don’t think about the ones left behind. Throat closing up, eyes blur and yet I don’t cry.

I can’t fall apart yet.

Look into the back to eyes wide, panting and pacing, small whimpers. Now come the first kind words they’ve ever heard- unrecognizable to these precious souls. We drive only so far as to feel safe and make sure there is nobody around. Recollect ourselves and start to evaluate what needs to be addressed immediately. Take pictures for the people at the other end waiting to collect them into loving arms. We get each dog fresh water, knowing that we hadn’t seen any in their kennels. Making sure each one of them has a fresh, clean blanket in the crate. They don’t know what they are but these are the first steps. Kind words, fresh water, comfortable accommodations for the long drive out of hell. Texts and phone calls, ETA’s confirmed. Hand-offs begin. More driving. I see the tension and devastation in my son’s eyes and yet he continues on. Although he is an adult I contemplate that he is still too young to face this kind of evil in our own backyard – but pray his generation will be the one to end these horrors. I know we cannot rescue our way out of this national obscenity, but he will go forward and educate his circle.

I can’t fall apart yet.

My son and I arrive home after dark with one passenger left and we welcome her into our home until she can be transported to her new foster family. A family that is willing to take in a dog that has lived in a Midwestern outdoor, gravel bottomed kennel for 8 years and been bred almost to death. It takes incredibly patient and loving people to rehab a mill dog and guide them through their journey getting healthy, learning to trust and be a dog. These are the people I surround myself with. People with amazing, bright shining souls.

Our house guest is the one that the miller chuckled with a smile and said “Yep, that ones in heat and he’s been goin’ at her hard for a week. She even went down in the back yesterday and could hardly walk. She’s full for ya.” I felt such an immediate compassion and love for this sweet girl, so…

I can’t fall apart yet.

The next days are filled with foster conversations, additional transport planning, vet reports, illness reports, evaluations, next steps and fundraising. Getting a mill dog to their best level of health is not a quick nor inexpensive trip to the vet. Spays, neuters, dentals which usually mean the loss of most of their teeth, antibiotics for infections, salves for skin conditions, too often surgeries performed by specialists.  

I spent hours and days with my girl cutting out mats, mats that limited her mobility and held infection and filth tight up against her skin. I did the best I could and then called in the professionals to do the final trimming and help with her first bath. Trying to find a food that she would eat, letting her hide but showing her that she didn’t need to. Introducing her to grass. Introducing her to a leash and coaxing her to walk because she really had no idea what I wanted from her. The distrust in her eyes was heartbreaking.

Smile. Breathe. Kind words. Kind hands.

And then I have to let her go. To the foster family who will be another lesson in love and trust.

I have to use this sadness, anger and disgust to fuel my days and nights. Turn it onto itself until it comes out as love and passion. To educate one more person.

I can’t fall apart yet…

…because within days of sending my sweet girl to continue her journey to her happily ever after, the message comes in from another breeder…

“I have ten more you can have. But they need gone by Friday.”


Amish Connection to Puppy Mills

According to USLegal.Com , the legal definition of the term “puppy mill” is: a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects. You can view a longer definition here.

Puppy Mills are terrible, and legal, businesses that operate in almost every state in the country (as well as several other countries in the world). The industry itself preys on the public to buy that cute pet store puppy, or buy the latest designer dog- while ignoring advice to see the parents and how they are living without purchasing. #ShowMeTheMommy is a phrase that our nonprofit coined in hopes of reaching more people who are looking at buying puppies from pet stores, websites that ship directly to you, or newspaper ads. These are the most common ways for puppy mills to sell their puppies to the public.  Sadly, the adult breeding dogs left behind at the puppy mills are viewed as livestock and are treated with the bare minimum of care. These adult dogs are never let out of their cages, they receive little-to-no veterinary care, and (unless they are rescued) they will die in the very cages they lived their lives in. To read more on why puppy mills are legal, click here.

While certain states are dubbed “the worst in the nation” when it comes to puppy mills, we want to take a closer look at the pockets of puppy mills within those states- specifically- those puppy mills that are owned and operated by the Amish. Thanks to the USDA, state agencies and our research team, we are able to show you why animal advocates often claim that Amish Puppy Mills are worst than most, break down where they are most common across the country, and connect those dots to some of the worst puppy mills in the country.

Source: worldpopulationreview.com


When we started researching this article, we wanted to see where the highest concentration of Amish families reside, and we were met with some very unsurprising (to us) statistics. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana have large amounts of Amish…. As well as some of the largest and most prolific puppy mills in the country.

According to the USDA website and our research team, the top 10 states with the most puppy mills include: Missouri (over 800) , Ohio (over 430) , Oklahoma (over 280), Iowa (over 260) , Indiana (over 200) , Kansas (over 165), Texas (over 136), and Wisconsin, Nebraska and Pennsylvania (each with over 100) . As you can see from the list above, 6 of the worst states for puppy mills also hit the top 10 for the sheer number of Amish members. This is not to say that every Amish family runs a puppy mill, NOR are we trying to prove that Amish run the only puppy mills in the country (that is far from true). We are trying to shed light on the fact that Amish DO run puppy mills.

According to the USDA list of licensees, over 98% of Ohio’s puppy mills are run by the Amish, 97% of Indiana’s are Amish and 63% of Pennsylvania puppy mills also run by Amish. This is a drastic difference from Iowa (22% Amish run) and Missouri (17% Amish run), who both have larger pockets of Amish colonies, but have more puppy mills operated by non-Amish families.

 Earlier this year, our volunteer research team created puppy mill maps for some of the worst states in the country, you can view those here. When looking into the highest concentrated areas of Amish colonies, you can see a huge correlation between puppy mills and Amish. The counties listed in the photo above are circled in the graphic below.

You can see that there is a direct correlation between Amish colonies and the number of puppy mills within each state. The circled counties are NOT the only counties with high concentrations of Amish colonies, just the ones listed as the largest communities based on church districts. 


Now let’s move on to the violations that occur at Amish puppy mills. 

Earlier this year (February 2017) the USDA took down all of it’s public inspection reports citing privacy reasons, in a move since dubbed the #USDABlackout . What the USDA and it’s licensees weren’t banking on is that organizations like ours saved reports and kept documentation of the puppy mills in the country. This is why we at Bailing Out Benji are able to continue our educational efforts by linking pet stores to the puppy mills they use, while including dog counts and violations as we find them. You can view the pet store side of the issue here

Based on USDA inspection reports, the Humane Society of the United States creates the “Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill” list. These lists are created after reading through thousands of inspection reports and finding out the worst of the worst, so to speak.  You can review those records here: 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 . As you read the list of names and violations, you will see many repeat offenders- and you will also see many Amish names. Yoder, Troyer, Borntrager, Hershberger, Raber .

To partner with that, you can see actual USDA photos from the ASCPA website. We have made the searches for each offending state easy:  Ohio , Pennsylvania , Indiana . You can access the site directly by clicking here and doing your own searches by state to view more. Please note, there is no option to just click “Amish” puppy mills, but you will see that more Amish names show up in the states with a higher Amish population because of the severity of violations they have incurred. Sadly, the number of violations a USDA licensee receives does not equate to it being shut down. As you can see below, one of the Borntrager families has had violation after violation since at least 2010, but the USDA still let them keep their USDA license ( the breeders voluntarily gave up their license recently). To view more on this particular case, click here.


Here are a few examples of Amish puppy mills who not only have violations and a lot of adult breeding dogs, but are selling to pet stores all over the country. 

  1. David and Esther Troyer, Clark Missouri. Selling to American Dog Club in New York-
    They have:  53 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: using dirty needles to give medicine,  filthy kennels, filthy enclosures, excessive matting, open wounds, and the list keeps going. To view USDA photos and read more violations,
    click here.
  2. Marvin and Joanna Newswanger, Maple Tree Kennels. Selling to Pet’s Playhouse in Iowa and American Dog Club in New York.
    331 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: cages with holes in wire flooring that are too wide and paws/bodies fall through, top of enclosures covered in hair and wood shaving dust (breeder reported that area is cleaned twice a year), and an ‘abundance of litters’ caused puppies to be housed in feed/bedding storage areas. To learn more about this breeder,
    click here:
  3. Jonathan Yutzy, Bloomfield Iowa. Sells to Petland in Iowa.
     73 adult breeding dogs with severe violations including: Performs tail docking and dew claw removal on his own- no vet, having dogs with missing eyes, cloudy eyes, horrible teeth and missing teeth. To view USDA photos of this kennel, click here.
  4. Perry and Mattie Bontrager,  Cedar Hill Kennel, Dalton Wisconsin. Sells to Petland in Iowa.
    131 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including dogs with cloudy eyes that had not been treated by a vet. To view USDA photos of this breeder,
    click here.
  5. William Kurtz, Augusta Wisconsin. Sells to Petland in Iowa.
    58 breeding adults. Horrible Hundred 2016 – Filthy conditions, severely matted dogs, and excessive feces; fined $3,089 by Wisconsin Department of Agriculture due to noncompliance.To view USDA photos from this kennel,
    click here.
  6. David D Yoder Jr., Utica Minnesota- 40 adult breeding dogs. Sells to Puppy World in Wisconsin.
    HOWEVER. David Yoder Senior (Windy Acres Kennels) recently cancelled his USDA license that was on the same property. David Yoder Senior had several violations including: so much feces in kennels the dogs couldn’t walk without stepping in it (this included kennels with moms and puppies), no exercise plan for the dogs in the kennels, dogs with missing ears (and no vet care), and notes of dogs dying in dog fights. David Yoder Jr is breeding the same dogs, in the same kennels at the same address. 

This is just a small sampling of puppy mills (Amish and not) who sell to pet stores. To view a list by state of which pet stores are buying from puppy mills, click here. 

In 2017 Bailing Out Benji has pulled over 300 dogs from puppy mills. These dogs were legally surrendered to us by each mill because the breeders didn’t want to spend the money on veterinary care or euthanasia. A lot of our dogs are coming from the Amish, so we have firsthand experience in how they treat their animals, how they vet their animals (they don’t) and how they handle them while pulling them from cages (rough). While we don’t want to put this all on this Amish community, as there are PLENTY of  other religions that are just as guilty of owning and supporting the puppy mill industry, we hope that this helps clear the air on whether or not Amish run puppy mills. 


To learn more about who we are and what we do, please visit us on Facebook.

Bailing Out Benji is a small nonprofit organization based out of Iowa, with teams all over the country. We are working tirelessly to eradicate the puppy mill industry and put an end to the pet store/puppy mill pipeline. Will you join us in our mission to end puppy mills once and for all? 

To receive action alerts and updates on our efforts, click the image above

To make a one time donation or to sign up to be a sustaining supporter to allow us to continue our various programs that expose the puppy mill industry, click the donate button below.

To make a donation or learn about other ways to support our efforts, click the image above

Follow us on social media and get involved in the fight to #EndPuppyMills !  





1,000 Hours, Looking Back on 5 Years

I don’t even know what to say…. 5 years ago was our very first protest in front of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe. It was my first protest ever. I was scared as hell and had no idea what to firstexpect. It was chilly, it was spitting rain and we were not sure what would happen. We had a larger group join us, as we did quite often back then and we (of course) faced a lot of anger from Dale, the store owner by way of shouting and threats to sue us.Bailing Out Benjiwas only 6 months old, but our passion was truly ignited that day.

In 2011, when these protests first began, Dale Dyvig was quoted by a local newspaper saying that “We are trying to get along the best we can,”  (due to the protester’s presence) and  “I’m not sure what they want, but I get to be the victim.”. To this day, Dyvig stands by his choice to use Century Farm Puppies and New Design Kennels as their puppy supplier- even though they have a history of having hundreds of dogs on their property and a history of violations. This is the third pet store that Dyvig has owned, while buying from the same two puppy mills, and he still doesn’t see that the parent dogs are the victims– which is why we are still there.  The breeders each currently have over 150 dogs on their property (which has dropped down from over 450 dogs in recent years).

Fast forward five years and we have been in front of this particular lolastore for over 1,000 hours in the last five years (that is 60,000 minutes!!)- not to mention the other two Iowa protests and the protests across the country we helped inspire and coach. Our organization put up the first puppy mill PSAs in Iowa (on three bus ads), we have an ongoing puppy mill billboard just blocks from Dyvig’s AND we have two big things coming to Texas soon. We have also seen the number of puppy mills in Iowa go from over 450 to just over 220 in the last 5 years. This is, in large part, due to increased public awareness about the puppy mill industry! 

Over the years our “fight” against this local pet store has moved away from the sidewalk into the courthouse, so to speak. While there has never been a lawsuit against Bailing Out Benji or its volunteers (because everything we say is 100% backed up with facts), Dale Dyvig has tried at least twice to prevent us from doing our civic duty. The first came in February of 2014, just 4 months after our first two puppy mill PSAs became live here in Ames. It turns out, Dale had been contacting the CyRide (Bus) board every month in hopes of getting our ad removed because he claimed it “directly targeted his store”. After so much harassment, the board finally voted to have the issue put on the agenda for their next meeting. A few volunteers and I stated our case as to why we chose to have our ad here in Ames and why we worded it the way we did. If you aren’t familiar with our bus ad, here it is: 


After 3 hours of debate and discussion, we were allowed to keep our bus ads up! It wasn’t because we were “right” however… It was because Dyvig let two puppy mill owners speak for him and they were less than professional. Nancy Carlson of New Design Kennels actually accused us of having invisible drones flying over her property daily (which prompted a snicker from all of the businessmen on the CyRide board) and Rob Hurd, mill owner who had his license revoked and was given a hefty fine, accused us of being political activists who want to end all animal ownership. Hurd also said he would go right down to the bus barn right then and “fix” our sign for the bus company, which caused several board members to tell him to calm down and they reminded him that vandalism is a serious crime. After that circus and all of our examples of other ads put up across the country (animal related and non), we were allowed to keep our bus ads going! And, to this day, you will see them rolling across town on two huge buses! 

The second (third and fourth…) time Dale Dyvig tried to drastically change what we do and how we do it is when he citycouncilrequeststarted a petition to the city council to inflict harsh regulations on protesting. He literally had a few hundred friends, family and customers sign a petition asking the city council to make us protesting his store illegal. When he presented his petition to the Ames City Council, he had insane regulations including: no out of state protesters (later changed to them needing their own permit), signs had to be small, no umbrellas, no dogs, no children under 18 (later changed it to 10), and he wanted us to have to pay for a monthly permit. This made the news, and once it was time for the city council to hear the case, they voted unanimously to uphold the first amendment and not look into this issue any further. 

So yes, a lot has happened in the last five years between us and Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe… But what he fails to see is that this issue has always been bigger than him versus us.  Our volunteers work tirelessly every single day to raise awareness about the puppy mill industry, not just this one pet store. 


Moving past the store, the last 5 years have been a whirlwind for Bailing Out Benji. Here are a few of the “highlights”. 

Perhaps the biggest thing to have happened to us over the last 5 years is being  featured in the Dog by Dog documentary, which is set to come out everywhere in early 2017. From being filmed, to being lucky enough to travel with the documentary crew and bring this film to almost 10,000 people in various screenings across the country, we have helped groups from all over the country find their voice and start peaceful protests of their own! 

This year, itself, was also crazy! I was chosen as a 2016Advocate We Loveby the Humane Society of the United States.  I was also invited to be the guest speaker at the “2016 Nebraska Humane Lobby Day.” A few months later, Bailing Out Benji was named one of the top 5 organizationsin the entire country who is fighting puppy mills.

On top of all of this, our website has reached (and educated) almost 400,000 people to date, our social media accounts reach thousands of people daily, we educate thousands of people a year in front of the store and we mailed out hundreds of packages of educational materials to people across the country to want to educate in their home towns. That’s not too shabby for a group that is entirely volunteer based- not to mention us all having day jobs.

Wait- Did I mention that Bailing Out Benji now has volunteer teams in Texas and in Nebraska, too? We are so honored to have had volunteers reach out and ask us to help them educate in their state. This has resulted in dozens of educational events in both states and hundreds of people learning about puppy mills and their connection to pet stores! 

I mean it when I (always) say that Bailing Out Benji has the best volunteers. Whether it is -40 degrees, 110 degrees or anywhere in between, our amazing men and women don’t hesitate to grab a sign, set up an educational table, hop in the car to save dogs, or spend hours doing puppy mill research. Every single life we have touched has made a ripple effect of education that can never be felt. So, when people say “Wow, you have been protesting Dyvig’s for five years and they are still open?!”, I smile and just say “Yeah”.

Because this is bigger than Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe.

 it’s bigger than Ames, Iowa.

We won’t stop until we have taken down the whole puppy mill industry. One pet store and one puppy mill at time.

Thank you all for your love and support over the years. Whether you are a volunteer, donor or silent supporter, thank you so much for keeping this small nonprofit afloat. 💙

(This picture is from my very first protest on Black Friday, 2011 )


— Mindi Callison, Founder of Bailing Out Benji 


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“The Dog Lover” – My Unsolicited Movie Review

I am a dog lover. I adopt dogs. I rescue dogs. I transport dogs. I protest puppy mills that sell puppy mill puppies. I research and write articles about puppy mills and pet stores they sell to. And, yes, I have been to several puppy mills and dog auctions.. So when I heard about this movie, “The Dog Lover”, formerly known as “The Wrong Side of Right” , I knew I had to watch it. Not because I would agree with the film, but because I needed to say what the “other side” was trying to push onto the general public. The other side, being the large-scale commercial dog breeding side. I don’t know how much of a “movie review” this will be, as me pointing out the blatant mistruths that have been strategically placed throughout this “touching” film.  Let’s start by sharing the official movie trailer and the IMDB synopsis of the film, in case you haven’t heard of it.


Sara Gold is a rising star at the United Animal Protection Agency (UAPA), a major animal rights organization that conducts animal rescues and lobbies for better animal welfare laws. Handpicked for a major assignment, Sara goes undercover as a college intern to infiltrate a suspected “puppy mill” run by the enigmatic Daniel Holloway.

– Written by ESX Entertainment

From here on out, THERE ARE SPOILERS for anyone who hasn’t seen the film. 


Before I really get into the absurdity of this movie, I want to point out two HUGE red flags that tear down the validity of the claims. The biggest draw to this film is that it is “based on a true story”, it even says so right at the beginning of the film; which definitely tugs at the heartstrings as you watch and feel sorry for a man losing everything he (well… his dogs) has worked for. The breeder that this film is based off of, Dan Christensen, even says the film is about 95% accurate…. But he is only referring to the last act of the film (his words). The rest was made up for the audience (my words). This is proven at the end of the film when the filmmakers put this at the end of the credits.

“The events and characters depicted in this motion picture are fictitious and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.  (sorry for the blurriness, I took a photo of my TV when I saw this and laughed)

Again… This was at the very end of the film. Buried way after the credits, in hope that no one sticks around to see that. But, it does protect them from a lawsuit from anyone associated with the case. 

Forrest Lucas… Yes, the owner/founder of Lucas Oil

If that doesn’t take away at least a little bit of the credibility, then this will. The executive producer of this film, Forrest Lucas, has made it a point to attack animal lovers and at every turn. In fact, he even founded the hate organization “Protect the Harvest” to fight any type of common-sense animal legislation that comes up. Here is a snippet of his resume: 

  • In 2010 Forrest Lucas spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bankroll the opposition to Proposition B in Missouri, which voters approved to set common-sense standards for the care of dogs in large-scale commercial breeding operations (their statement against Prop B can be found here). Lucas then supported an effort in the Missouri legislature to weaken and repeal parts of the voter-approved measure, before it even had a chance to take effect.
  • In 2012, Forrest Lucas spent more than a quarter-million dollars opposing Measure 5 in North Dakota, which sought to establish felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses.
  • In 2013, Protect the Harvest lobbied against a local ordinance in Harrison County, Indiana, to promote the spaying and neutering of pets and help reduce pet overpopulation, and in Crawford County, Indiana, to provide adequate shelter for dogs and protect them from the elements.

To put it lightly, Forrest Lucas is NO friend to the animals. Which is why he was happy to help create a film that would spread confusion and misinformation among the general public. In an interview seen here, Forrest admits that he will be putting out a movie like this every 2-3 months now that “The Dog Lover” has officially been released. Four other movies are ready and the sixth one is almost finished being written. The next one, Running Wild, stars Sharon Stone and is about horses. I can’t wait to see what underlying agenda that movie has in store. 

Now we can move on to “The Dog Lover” and just how far it strays from the truth. Again, Major spoilers coming your way if you haven’t seen the film (although I recommend still reading).

The story that very loosely inspired this film, originated in Turner County, South Dakota, where 172 of  Dan Christensen’s hunting dogs were seized in 2009. During her search on August 27, Rosey Quinn (then current director of the Second Chance Rescue Center) said she saw dogs who were sick with Parvo and intestinal parasites and the conditions they were living in were “deplorable”. This prompted a warrant and the seizure of all of the animals.  Animal cruelty charges were later dropped after a judge determined that Quinn misled a judge to get the search and seizure warrant. 

The seizure of the dogs and the fact that he was allowed to get them back is where the similarities of this film and the true story end. Even down to the number of dogs (movie claims 100, real breeder had 172). 

Movie Photo: Sara Gold inside one of the breeding buildings that houses over 100 adult dogs. The film strongly pushes the fact that “100 dogs isn’t a puppy mill”.

The film paints a picture of the United Animal Protection Agency (a knock off version of the Humane Society of the United States) and how they encourage a young woman to be an undercover intern at this dog breeding facility. Her job is to go on the property to get as much evidence as she can in order to save the dogs from the puppy mill, including hidden cameras. This never happened. Dan Christensen never took on interns. While two undercover volunteers did come to his property  and take photos while they were “looking to buy a puppy”, that is where the story ends. There was no intern living on his property, and there was no love story between his son and an HSUS representative. This fake story line creates the entire movie. Sara Gold, the intern, struggles between what she feels is wrong vs right; she struggles with her new found love; and, at the end, she fights with her employers because they took her undercover footage and manipulated it to tell the story they wanted. Again, none of this ever happened, but it sure makes for a good movie and it creates a distrust between the public and organizations that help educate about and rescue dogs from puppy mills.

Back to Dan Christensen claiming this film was 95% accurate in the last chunk of the film… Now even that is a stretch. In the movie, Holloway (owner of the puppy mill) punches a UAPA member during the raid, he suffers a heart attack when seeing the “awful” conditions that his dogs are living in upon getting into rescue, and he faces a jury trial to deem whether or not the dogs were abused and neglected. None of this ever happened. Are you seeing a recurring theme here? Not much of this film is “based on a true story”. Now back to real life: 

Dan Christensen never went to trial, however there  were motion hearings over the course of several days that focused on the validity of the search and seizure warrant. While there was limited evidence, there was no jury; No one from the HSUS took the stand, and neither did Christensen. The only similarity between real life and film was that the warrant was thrown out and all charges were dropped because Quinn  the judge ruled that Quinn misled him  about the evidence used to obtain it. 

I want it to be stated more clearly…. These dogs were returned to the breeder because the warrant wasn’t obtained correctly NOT because the animals were being cared for and Christensen deserved them back. At the end of the article, I will post photos from Christensen’s puppy mill. They aren’t pretty, and I want to give our readers a chance to read the full article without fear of seeing them. 

The overall message of the film is “Learn the truth, investigate before you donate”, that phrase even pops up on the screen as the movie ends.  It isn’t hard to tell when you are watching “The Dog Lover” who the enemy is supposed to be. Protect the Harvest, who routinely attacks the HSUS in real life, created this propaganda film to attack them and other animal welfare organizations on the silver screen. Over and over again the UAPA employees and high-up executives are constantly talking about money, getting raises/promotions and openly discuss tinkering with footage to advance the case. This glaring attack makes it very easy to ignore the fact that Holloway (film) had over 100 dogs living in cages on their property, getting human contact twice a day when they are being fed. It is easy to see that the filmmakers are trying to subconsciously get the public to realize that large-scale dog breeding operations are humane.

So, there you have it. My unsolicited movie review in 1700 words. I hope this helped you realize that not every film that says “based on a true story” is, in fact, true. 

— Mindi Callison

Founder/President of Bailing Out Benji

An organization that works tirelessly to educate about puppy mills and rescue animals from all walks of life. 

——————- If you don’t want to see photos from ———————-

——————- the actual puppy mill, stop reading here. ——————–

A personal note from Mindi:

I want to end this article by saying that not all dog breeders are puppy mills. This is a fact that is hard for some people to accept. While you may not agree with breeding in general (which is your right),  a small, reputable breeder is a far cry from a puppy mill. And this is something that we must remember as animal advocates. There will always be members of the general public who insist on buying a puppy. It is our job to not only show them some adorable adoptable animals, but to  educate them on how to avoid purchasing from puppy mills. Demand #ShowMeTheMommy when buying, visit the facility, meet the parents, NEVER buy a puppy in a pet store and absolutely do not ever agree to meet a breeder offsite or have them ship to you. 

Here are photos taken the day of the raid on the Dan Christensen property. What do you think? Is he a reputable breeder like the film would have you believe? 


Little Wonders Puppy Emporium: Buyer Beware

As you know, we are a small nonprofit based primarily out of the Midwest. So how, might you ask, did a pet store all the way in Sayville, New York catch our attention enough to merit an article?

Well, this Little Wonders Puppy Emporium made the grave mistake of not only buying puppies from horrible puppy mills here in the Midwest, but they actually accused our nonprofit organization of paying people to protest outside of their store. Every weekend… 1,179 miles away. Since we are so interesting to them, we thought we would look a little deeper into the puppy mills they proudly support. Unsurprisingly, we were appalled at the lies the store owners tell their customers just to make a profit. We hope to expose the store and its puppy mill suppliers, while educating their future customers about where to humanely obtain their next pet. If you are in the Sayville area, please reach out to the wonderful ladies at Puppy Mill Free Long Island NY and they can help you find a pet to adopt! 

Let’s start by showing everyone that Little Wonders Puppy Emporium is listed on the ASPCA’s NoPetStorePuppies.com site as a store NOT to shop at. Another nationally recognized organization is against this pet store… Should be a red flag.

When it comes to exposing puppy mills and the pet stores they sell to, Suffolk County NY  made our jobs awfully easy by requiring all pet stores to prominently display which USDA licensed breeders pet stores are buying from. So our goal with this article is to help potential customers do their research BEFORE buying a puppy mill puppy.  Since Little Wonders Puppy Emporium isn’t picky and buys from A LOT of puppy mills, we thought it was best to organize them by state. 

A YELP review recently left by an unsatisfied customer who purchased a sick dog.

What would drive a pet store to buy from puppy mills that are over 1,300 miles away? What would make them think that puppies sitting in a cramped, dark van for over 21 hours is a good idea? The only answer is cost. LWPE is getting a heck of a deal by buying puppies from so far away. Pet stores generally buy puppies for $25-$50 a piece and sell them for thousands. Please keep in mind that these puppies are taken away from their mothers and siblings too early, thrown into kennels and driven thousands of miles just to be sold in a pet store. Sadly, many of these puppies come to Little Wonders (and other out of state pet stores) very ill because of those very reasons.

Here are the *known* puppy mills that Little Wonders Puppy Emporium has purchased from in the past. 

OKLAHOMAFrom here it takes the puppies between 21 and 23 hours to leave each breeder just to sit in a pet store cage. 

Jeff Adams/Adams Kennel  Durant, OK 74701 USDA 73-A- 2670 … 35 adult dogs. Time it takes for puppies to get to the store:  23 hours, 47 minutes . 

Karen Buffalohead KCZ Amazing Pets Langley OK 74350 USDA 73-B- 1843 …. 12 adult dogs. 21 hours, 30 minutes to the store. 

Cindy Johnson Purple Rose Kennel  Jay OK 74346 USDA 73-A- 2169… 17 adult dogs. 21 hours, 33 minutes from breeder to store. 

SOUTH DAKOTA — It takes 21 hours, 56 minutes from this breeder to the pet store. 

Calvin Kroger/Kroger Kennel Hudson, SD 57034 USDA 46-A- 0420… 23 adult dogs. pet store. 

MINNESOTA— These puppies ride over 21 hours to get to the pet store.

Angeline Mc Duffee AJ’s Angels Cushing MN 56443 USDA 41-A- 0484 *Formerly known as Wanda Kretzman of Clearwater Kennel 3/9/2016 she cancelled license. Same day daughter-in-law obtained license for the very same kennel… 594 adult dogs, 402 puppies .  This is one of the worst puppy mills in the entire country. 

Justin Sawyer Backus MN 56435 USDA 41-A- 0482 … 70 adult dogs, 61 puppies


ARKANSAS—  It takes the puppies over 21 hours to get to the store. 

Judy Willis  Jasper, AR 72641 USDA 71-A- 0992… 33 adult dogs.

Jonathan Miller Huntsville, AR 72740 USDA 71-A- 1257… 28 adult dogs. 

Charles & Susan Delozier C&T Kennels  Green Forest, AR 72638 USDA 71-A- 0995… 24 adults dogs.

IOWAIt takes 21 hours for these puppies to travel from Iowa puppy mills to Little Wonders Puppy Emporium

Colleen Ries/Wishbone Kennels Ryan, IA 52330 USDA 42-A- 0950… 36 adult dogs. Noteworthy violations: Dogs with open and untreated wounds on legs

J.A.K.S Puppies  Britt IA 50423 USDA 42-B- 0271 (Broker). 97 puppies. 

MISSOURIIt takes 19 hours from puppy mill to pet store. 

Carol Hyatt /Shangrila Kennel LLC Fredericktown, MO 63645 USDA 43-A- 5630… 10 adult dogs. 

Breedloves Unique kennel allows all of their dogs to live their lives in rabbit hutches. 24/7. THIS is the mother of your pet store puppy.

Alisa Breedlove/Breedloves Unique Kennel Waynesville, MO 65583 USDA 43-A- 4023 … 80 adult dogs. To see more footage of her kennel click here

Sherri GillumUnionville, MO 63565 USDA 43-B- 3701… 54 adult dogs, 30 puppies

Randall & Sheree Bonnette Chillicothe, MO 64601 USDA 43-A- 2151… 80 adult dogs

Josie & Paul Swartzentruber Buffalo, MO 65622 USDA 43-A- 4184… 13 adults dogs.

Lonewolf Kennel. Has past USDA violations for having dogs in outdoor enclosures with no wind/weather breaks.

Allison Hedgpeth/Lonewolf Kennel Iberia, MO 65486 USDA 43-B- 3435… 47 adult dogs.

Bill & Mona Paulson Prairieview Kennel  Washburn, MO 65772 USDA 43-A- 2974 … 102 adult dogs, 41 puppies

Undercover footage of David Miller’s property. THESE are the mothers of your pet store puppy.

David Miller  Oronogo, MO 64855 USDA 43-A- 5221… 149 adult dogs, 58 puppies. 

SOBRAD LLC/Pinnacle Pet Neosho, MO 64850 USDA 43-B- 3750 & 43-T- 0063 (Broker) … 353 puppies

Hunte Corporation Goodman, MO 64843 USDA 43-B- 0123 (Broker)… Upwards of 1000 puppies. Here is a video exposing where the Hunte Corporation gets their puppies. 


But after all of this, Little Wonders Puppy Emporium not only stands proudly by their breeders, but they claim they only use breeders with no violations (which is very untrue and easily fact checked).


Because of this, a group of concerned Sayville citizens have been protesting outside of Little Wonders Puppy Emporium every weekend since March of 2015. The protests started before the store officially opened, to raise awareness about the issue. After, two of the women chose to have a sit-down meeting with the owner, Frank DiStefano and tried to educate him about the puppy mill issue. After asking him to consider going humane and ending the sale of puppies in his store, Frank said, “It would never happen” and the two groups went on their separate ways.  Since the protests started in Sayville NY outside Little Wonders Puppy Emporium, the protesters have assisted over a dozen consumers with the adoption process instead of them purchasing puppies. They’ve shared with consumers: petfinder.com, breed specific rescues and for those that insisted upon buying, they’ve even taken the time to research true, responsible breeders. 

While it is so hard for pet store owners to stop asking “why me” and see the bigger picture, this is about putting an end to puppy mills; not ending all breeding and not ending pet ownership. And while DiStefano and other pet store owners insist on profiting off of the suffering of thousands of adult dogs, groups like Bailing Out Benji and Puppy Mill Free Long Island NY will be out there educating current, past and future customers. 


How can you help?

Call Little Wonders Puppy Emporium 

(631) 244-7877 …  If you feel strongly enough (and are brave enough), contact the owner this way. Ask him directly about the puppies and the welfare of the  parent dogs.  We do not want to see a local business close down, instead we want the owner to choose a more humane business model by  either not selling puppies at all, or choosing to help shelter dogs instead! 

Contact Little Wonders on Facebook

Share this article on their wall, tag their store, do whatever you can to raise awareness about this store and their connection to known puppy mills. Here is their page. 

Visit the protesters on the weekend! 

Whether you join them and hold a sign, or just drive by to honk- your support means the world to the girls who are giving their voices to the dogs that have none. 


Don’t give your business to pet stores that sell puppies and kitties. Pet overpopulation is a terrible problem in our country and only the consumers can help change that. If you are looking for a new pet PLEASE visit your local shelter. Over 35% of dogs in shelters are purebred, they are just overlooked. If you can’t find what you are looking for at your local shelter, please try Petfinder It is a tremendously helpful site! You can search for ANY BREED, anywhere. And don’t forget, if you are looking to buy a puppy, ALWAYS demand to #ShowMeTheMommy! 

— Mindi 

Founder/President of Bailing Out Benji

Editors Note: Little Wonders Puppy Emporium is nothing special. Pet stores across the country are buying puppies from out of state mills and passing them off as “local, respectable breeders”. Iowa alone exports over 100,000 puppies annually to pet stores across the country. This is a very inhumane business model that pet stores have adopted to make a quick buck. Help us put an end to this industry! If you see puppies in the store, WALK OUT THE DOOR! And always shop at humane pet stores that don’t sell animals! Together, we will put an end to this industry. 

Iowa exports over 100,000 puppies a year!

Buyer Beware: The Dark Truth About Online Pet Sales

There are over 10,000 puppy mills across the United States. Some of them are licensed, some of them aren’t; but almost all of them sell site unseen through websites, forums and Craigslist.

Translation: The internet is full of puppy mills…. Don’t believe me? Google “puppies for sale near me”. Go ahead. I will wait….

What websites popped up?

Various Breeders? PuppyFind.com ? Oodle.com? Hoobly.com? NextDayPets.com?

These are all forums for puppy mills to hock their products. By products, I really mean puppies… But puppy mills don’t view puppies (or dogs for that matter) as living, breathing souls. They see them as money, as a cash crop. We are starting a new educational series “Buyer Beware”, where we focus on exposing online puppy mills as just that. Fancy websites that are a front for a very cruel and inhumane industry. Not only will this educate a few people about how easy it is for puppy mills to lie, BUT anytime anyone searches for these breeders in particular, our articles will pop up 🙂 And hopefully catch a few more potential puppy buyers. 

(*cough*… Puppy Mills…. *cough*….)

For our first edition of “Buyer Beware” we wanted to start close to home and we wanted to start by showing how easy it is to get wrapped up in the puppy mill world when trying to add a new furry friend to your family. In this day and age, the internet is where we go to for everything. Movie times, restaurants, news, weather…. So why not use it to find an adorable new puppy? The general public doesn’t know the rules of buying from a reputable breeder; getting on a list, visiting the parents, contracts, etc. What they do know is that it is easy to click, buy and ship. So I started from the beginning. 


In less than a minute I was given 465,000 results. That is a lot of information to click through, especially for someone who just really wants to buy a puppy. So, for good measure, I clicked on a few breeders that appeared on the first two pages. 

I found Century Farm Puppies, Coldwater Kennel and Cuddles and Snuggles Place…. Let’s start by talking about what these pages have in common. 

√  Pictures of cute puppies (in front of blankets/tarps) 

√ Health guarantee

√ Offer to ship 

√ USDA License

√ Far away photos/Descriptions of their perfect farms 

It sounds perfect! Those puppies all looks so adorable AND the breeders take all major credit cards. What more could a person want? 

Well… Here is what they aren’t showing you. 

44 adults, down from over 75


Lots and lots of dogs
A depressing amount of dogs… 

You see. Legally, these puppy mills don’t have to disclose their actual number of dogs to potential buyers. In fact, they can keep you as far away from the property as they want (which is why they offer to ship or meet you halfway!) Now think back to those fancy websites… What didn’t they show you? Photos of the actual parents!! You get so swept up in seeing the pictures of adorable puppies, that you don’t give a second thought to the parent dogs! 


Actual photos of dogs from Coldwater Kennel. In the metal kennel to the right are actual boxes the mothers are kept in.  Follow this link to see a video from inside Coldwater Kennel.

Century Farm Puppies also admits that none of their puppies are raised in their home. 

Now lets look at some of the red flags on those websites. 

√ Offer to ship/meet off site

√ Breeder sells lots of different breeds

√ Cuddles and Snuggles says right on their site that they are “not responsible for any Bills including Medical Bills  and Vet. Bills incurred by the purchaser of the dog”. 

√ Always has puppies available for sale

√ Accepts all major credit cards 

√ Century Farm Puppies admittedly sells their “cheap” dogs to a pet store in Ames. We have also exposed their puppy mill before.

√ Inspected and in good standing with the state/USDA

On top of the things they aren’t showing you and the numerous red flags, lets not forget the very lax rules that USDA inspected kennels are required to follow: 

-Inspections are “Risk-based,” meaning that facilities that meet a certain criteria are inspected “as seldom as once every 2 to 3 years.”
-Cage size: must be 6 inches larger than the size of the dog, on all sides
-Up to 12 dogs can be housed in one cage
-Dogs never have to be let out of their cages. Breeders only need to have an exercise plan
-There is no limit to the number dogs a breeder can have—many have over 1,000
-There is no age limit for breeding dogs. If a dog is able to produce puppies for ten years, that’s how long they could be in the facility.

For more information, click here.


So how can you avoid a puppy mill? 

  1. Consider adoption first.There are thousands of puppies and adult dogs who are waiting their forever home in your local shelter or rescue! Petfinder.com is a fantastic resource. 
  2. Find a responsible breeder and visit the premises. #ShowMeTheMommy is our rule! Always always always demand to see the parent dogs. 
  3. Absolutely DO NOT “rescue” a puppy mill puppy by buying him.If you are visiting a breeder and you disagree with anything that you see, RUN don’t WALK away and make sure to contact us! 
  4. Don’t get a puppy from a pet store. Ever. Pet store Puppies ARE puppy mill puppies
  5. Don’t fall for “USDA” licensed or “AKC” registered. Those aren’t safety blankets and those breeders can absolutely be puppy mills. 
  6. Do your part: Help us educate about puppy mills! Share our mission and educate your friends, family and coworkers! 


Stay tuned for the next edition in our Buyer Beware chronicles! Until then, don’t forget to check out our facebook page and stay update on all that we do to help the dogs trapped in puppy mills. 

And don’t forget… A little bit of investigation can go a long way. 


Mill Dog Monthly; May 2016

Hi, everyone! It’s Mindi, the founder of Bailing Out Benji! This is a very special edition of #MillDogMonthly because Bailing Out Benji is…. FIVE YEARS OLD! That’s right! This month we have been celebrating our five-year anniversary! That is five whole years of making the world a better place through education, rescue, transports and advocacy! We couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this special occasion than by sharing stories from wonderful people we have helped, as well as behind the scenes photos and plans for the future! Thank you so much for reading and for helping us relive the successes we have had over the past five years! I can’t wait to see what is in store over the next five years!

The Beginning

If you have followed us from the beginning, you know that Bailing Out Benji started off as an educational blog. It was my way of connecting with the public and sharing my journey into this world of animal advocacy. I was 21 and honestly had no idea that things were this tragic when

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it came to animal welfare. Iowa was (and still is) one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to puppy mills and we are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to animal welfare laws.

 In the beginning, I was ecstatic to be getting a handful of views a month. The early articles were written in disbelief and were a little disorganized. But month after month, my article hits grew as my readers were learning and the relationships that were being created were life-changing. I was connecting with real people who were learning about these issues for the first time and I could see that a difference was being made. Now, five years later, our articles get thousands of views a week and every day we are hearing from someone new who had no idea about puppy mills. Like Jennifer M.


Jennifer-  “I have always been an animal lover. I volunteered at a vet clinic as a teenager, had many pets as a child and got my first dog in my early twenties. I wasn’t allowed one as a child because I was allergic, but I didn’t care and toughed it out anyways to have a beloved dog. I got a dachshund because I had wanted one for years. I found a breeder and picked her up at 8 weeks old. As much as I loved animals, I had no clue about rescue or the horrors that so many dogs endure due to puppy mills. I discovered rescue a few years later and adopted my second dog from a dachshund rescue and was feeling good about saving a life. Still, I had no idea what a puppy mill was. I was just browsing Facebook one day about 4 or 5 years ago, and one of the dachshund pages I follow showed a link to an article about puppy mills written by Bailing out Benji. I was horrified, cried tears and felt enraged that this horrific suffering was going on and so many people either don’t know about it or are the people who are perpetuating it. From that moment on, I   have been active about educating the people I know about puppy mills, as well as doing my part to be sure not to support those who support mills in any way. I’m educating my daughters now, and I can guarantee my girls would never “buy” a pet. Bailing out Benji is a great wealth of information teaching so many about the perils of puppy mills and pet store puppies, but even more Bailing out Benji is also a group of dedicated advocates making a difference.”

Every day, people like Jennifer are interested in learning more and they are searching for “puppy mills in Iowa” or “Puppy mills near me” and they are coming across one of the almost 100 articles that we have written on the topic. One great thing about our website/blog is that we connect real puppy mills and their websites to their USDA inspection reports and numbers. So when someone is looking for “Century Farm Puppies” or “Randy Stoen, Dows” they come across the truth and hopefully RUN the other way.

Our website and articles have been viewed in almost every country in the world.


Turning Education into Advocacy
It wasn’t until I started looking at the local puppy mill problem that I realized this issue was in my own backyard. I went into a local pet store, “Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe” with a few friends and saw that they were selling puppies. When asked where the puppies come from, the store owner told us “Century Farm Puppies” and gave us the address. After checking out the inspection reports and seeing that they had over 400 adult dogs on their property, we knew we had to visit and see things firsthand.  We saw the puppy mill and we decided that we had to educate about whereMarley those adorable pet store puppies really come from.

But not before we convinced the mill owner to let us “adopt” one of the dogs that couldn’t be used for breeding anymore (no money was exchanged). Little did I know,  “Marley” was going to be the first of many puppy mill survivors that we would be helping to free from this horrible life over the next five years. Marley was a 3 year old King Charles Cavalier used for breeding “cavachons” at Century Farm Puppies. What the breeder told us: Her uterus dropped during her last litter and she needed an emergency c-section and spay. What the breeder did not tell us: She had luxating patellas, cherry eye, long nails and horrible teeth/ears. With the help of a local shelter, we took this sweet girl to her foster-turned-forever home and she got all of the vet care and love she truly deserved. In her short three years, it is estimated that she had at least 4 litters and made the breeder almost $20,000.
Shortly after our visit to CFP, we contacted Dale Dyvig again to warn him about how awful the breeder was… He laughed…. HE LAUGHED and told us that he had been using the same breeders for decades and they were just fine. That ignited something inside of me that I honestly had no idea existed. Again, for those of you that have followed our organization for a while, knows what happened next 😉 We protested. And protested. And protested. Since Black Friday of 2011, we have protested every single Saturday and Sunday, with a few -20surprise protests during the weeks and our “theme” protests in which we protest every day for 30 days ( #ThirtyDaysThirtyProtests ) for puppy mill awareness month and the #12ProtestsOfChristmas where we catch last minute puppy buyers the two weeks leading up to the holidays.  

That means we have protested this one pet store for over 75,000 minutes over the last five years *(not including our protests in front of Pet’s Playhouse and Petland) . In the negative temperatures, in the extreme heat, in the rain, and in the snow. We are there no matter what, because the dogs in the puppy mills are forced to live in these conditions. In that time we have educated thousands of people about this issue and its connection to our local pet store, and we have turned away so many potential puppy buyers and helped them find reputable breeders and rescues.



A breeder surrender from Missouri, we transported to RAGOM. (He was stretching his legs while we waited for the rescue to meet us!  


Speaking of the dogs…


Between owner surrenders, breeder releases and auction rescues- Bailing Out Benji has helped hundreds of dogs (and cats) find safe haven among the no-kill, nonprofit rescues that we partner with. We make the connections, we transport and (when we have the funds) we donate towards the vet care of the animal.  Not all every rescue we assist with makes it to facebook, but we do often post those photos to instagram.

We couldn’t be more thankful for the relationships and connections that we have made when saving these lives. It has truly been an eye opening experience! Here is what Cindy Goodin from Little White Dog Rescue has to say: 

Teddy“Bailing out Benji is an amazing organization. Not only do they educate the public about the plight of dogs that are caged their entire lives, but they have partnered with my organization in getting some dogs released and placed into rescue. Some of these dogs come with no medical care and in deplorable condition. Bailing Out Benji is a great champion for these dogs and without them these dogs would continue to suffer. I can’t say enough great things about them!”

Rescues like Little White Dog Rescue, FluffyButts Rescue and the Pug Partners of Nebraska (to name a few) are a few amazing no-kill rescues that never hesitate to step up and take animals when we ask! 

Friendships, Honors and Achievements

DBDTo say that I and Bailing Out Benji have been blessed over the last 5 years is a huge understatement. What we do, we do for the dogs, 1000%. We don’t do it for the recognition and certainly not for the glory. But we are very blessed in the fact that our hard work and educational efforts have moved mountains and have garnered respect across the world.

In 2014, we were blown away when 5414 productions reached out to us and wanted to include Bailing Out Benji in their puppy mill documentary, Dog by Dog. It was so unbelievable that I honestly thought it was a cruel joke at first! But they came! Director Christopher Grimes and Filmographer Travis Edwards came to my home to interview me and filmed our protest the next day- even though it was -14 degrees! If that wasn’t exciting enough, the next year and a half was indescribable. I was able to travel across the country with the film for various premiers and meet hundreds animal lovers-turned friends- who truly wanted to make a difference for the puppy mill dogs. Protests were started, connections were made and, because of that, countless people have been educated. 

During this time, Best-selling Author, Janetta Harvey reached out to us and a friendship began. After learning about our efforts, Janetta included Bailing Out Benji and our story in her book “Saving One More” and we couldn’t be more proud! Not just the fact that this is another way we are able to educate, but it shows solidarity in this fight against the puppy mill industry. From the United Kingdom all the way to Iowa, we are united in this fight.

Janetta Harvey, Author & Campaigner
“Since being introduced to the dedicated work of Mindi and her Bailing Out Benjisaving one more team, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the strength and commitment to the dogs that they regularly show. It’s been awe inspiring to witness the weekly peaceful protests, the awareness events Bailing Out Benji attend, and the billboards they fund. Truly impressive for a small group. I’m in the UK and many times wish I could be with Mindi in person to support her and absorb some of the tenacity she shows to keep battling to get the voices of dogs heard, both in her local community, but also much further afield. It was an honour to include her story in my book, “Saving One More” and I look forward to meeting her one day and celebrating the end of the nasty puppy breeding and selling industry that we campaign against, united across the world.”


And in 2016, shortly before Bailing Out Benji turned five, I was given an amazing award by the Humane Society of the United States- Puppy Mill Campaign. Out of everyone in the country who works tirelessly to give a voice to those that have none, I was one of 14 people awarded the HSUS “Advocates We Love” award. I was so honored to accept the award on behalf of all of the hard work that our volunteers have done. 

These last five years have been unbelievable. It is hard to imagine what amazing things will happen in the next five years! 



Education Knows No Borders!

Over the past 5 years, Bailing Out Benji has physically traveled all over Iowa and Nebraska to educate about puppy mills and other animal issues. The rescue events we attend, the expos and the booths we host have helped us reach and educate thousands of people about these issues! We also send out educational brochures, flyers and posters for animal lovers to hang in their own communities to raise awareness.

We are soRoundrock excited to say that we are taking the leap and expanding our volunteer base to another state! We have a group of committed animal lovers in Texas who want to start hosting educational tables and events to raise awareness about puppy mills in their area and we are so happy to help! The past few weeks we have been working nonstop to create a database of puppy mills in Texas to create a Texas Puppy Mill Map for them, like we made for Iowa. While this Texas BoB is a work in progress, we are very excited for what this means for our organization! Who knows where another volunteer team will pop up next!


A few examples of our educational outreach PSAs

What does this mean?

Five years of hard work and we couldn’t do ANY of it without Y.O.U. The shares, the articles views, the likes on Facebook, the donations– all of our success and educational outreach has been possible because of your help. $5Fri

Bailing Out Benji is 100% volunteer based, meaning that no one is reimbursed for their time or efforts. As you know and have read, we are completely dedicated to exposing puppy mills and the pet stores they sell to by educating the public. Our billboards, bus ads and newspaper ads educate thousands of people on a daily basis.

Can you help us celebrate our birthday? Make a donation today, of ANY amount and help us continue our important work! Click here for ways to donate. Every dollar helps us in our mission to put an end to puppy mills once and for all. All donations are tax deductible and will help us greatly. We created a new spot on our website to thank any individual or business who donates over $500 (at one time). We will link the thank you to your business or organization as our way of thanking you. With the high traffic of our website, our amazing supporters will appear on the side of every article and page on our site!


 Never did I think that my little blog would have changed my life, and the lives of countless animals and humans, forever. Thank you all. Thank you for the constant love and support to our small, but mighty organization. We couldn’t do it without you <3 


— Mindi 


Mill Dog Monthly; April 2016

MDM_April (1)

As always, a HUGE thank you to Matt and Brandi (Webber Designs) for their hard work in creating this month’s Mill Dog Monthly! 
For more information on the groups mentioned, please visit their facebook pages. 
Susie-Belle Schnauzer
Oscar’s Law
Pug Partners of Nebraska
Puppy Love Campaigns
Little Lena
Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN
Dog by Dog
Humane Society of Northeast Iowa