Iowa Puppy Mills Filling Pet Store Cages Across the US

It is no secret that Iowa is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the number of puppy mills. We have over 220 puppy mills and we export over 100,000 puppies across state lines annually. These puppies go to other brokers (person who makes a living buying puppies and selling them at a higher price) or the puppies go straight to pet stores. The Hunte Corporation is the biggest broker in the United States, they supply  approximately 80% of pet stores with their puppies (around 85,000 sold in one year alone). The Hunte Corp is simply a company of puppy buyers, and then they resell them for a profit. In the most recent issue of the Iowa Pet Breeders Association directory, the Hunte Corporation had an advertisement that said they would give you a free bag of dog food for every puppy sold. While the Hunte Corporation is located in Missouri, their puppies supply pet stores world wide. 

Not all brokers are as big as the Hunte Corporation, and several of them are breeders as well. This is a side of the puppy mill world that the public never sees. In fact, pet stores go to great lengths in order to keep the public from ever finding out where the puppies really come from. In the latest article coming to you from Bailing Out Benji, we want to highlight some of the Iowa breeders that are filling the cages of pet stores near you. We desperately need more people to realize that Iowa puppy mills truly are a national problem. Thanks to the ASPCA and the USDA, all of the information in this article was very easy to find and organize to make easy for our readers. Please note that all hyperlinked words (blue and underlined) either lead to the facebook page or website of the breeder (for easy commenting!) or to the ASPCA site for more photos and information. Don’t hesitate to click around! 


Taken from one of the pet store’s websites. Just sickening.


Cathy Speer-  Milton, Iowa. License No. 42A1238

Supplies Petland #250 in Crystal Lake, IL and Petland #78 Rockford, IL

The puppies have to travel over 4 hours to get to the store… In a semi? In crowded vans? 

Cathy Speer has been cited repeatedly in the past for excessive waste, outdoor housing without wind or rain breaks, lack of vet care, and incomplete vet records. To read more in-depth violations and more photos from this breeder, click here. Both of these pet stores tell their customers that their puppies come from small, local breeders when in all reality the puppies are from five hours away. Sadly, the latest inspection reports show 26 adult dogs- but Cathy can’t bother to take adequate care of the animals in her care. I wonder what their customers would say if they actually saw where the puppies come from. 



Michael Knudtson, Lake Mills, Iowa.

USDA license No. 42A1149

Supplies: Petland in Joliet, Illinois

For only having 26 adult dogs on his property, Michael Knudtson is extremely neglectful to them. Years and years of inspection reports show a long list of violations. His most recent violations show dogs with open wounds, inadequate heating (36 degrees in the kennels with water bowls frozen over) Once provided water, dogs drank for almost 2 minutes. But, Petland Joliet insists they sell puppies from reputable breeders…. We know the truth now, don’t we?



CW’s Quaint Critters: Connie and Harold Johnson  Melvin, Iowa. License No. 42B0226

These poor, not even 8 week old puppies travel over 21 hours just to sit in a pet store cage. 

Supplies The Dog House in Manchester, Connecticut

The Johnsons have had several violations in the past, including not having shelter in their outdoor facilities, not having cages that are easily cleaned, buildup of filth in cages, and one of the male beagles was seen straining to defecate and passed a thick red matter. Recent inspection reports show that this breeder currently has 121 adult dogs. To see more of these photos and violations, click here:  Right on the website of “The Dog House” they say that they only work with accredited breeders to ensure that each puppy they sell will be healthy and well adjusted. They also claim to have the largest selection of breeds in the area. Check out the photos below and in the link, it is clear that they are not being honest to their customers. 



Gale and Judy Dorothy: Stockport, Iowa License No. 42A0933

Supplies Shake-A-Paw in Hicksville, New York. 

The cages at the Dorothy puppy mill have been called into question several times in recent history. Several wires can be seen poking into the cages, which poses a danger to the animals, the water can be seen as a grimy green color, and the food bowls are metal with jagged edges. (see more here). However, the pet store claims that they have established relationships with the most respected breeders across the country. Does this look very respectable? How would those customers feel if they knew that these animals weren’t being taken care of? Judy Dorothy, per the latest inspection report, shows that she only has 24 dogs and repeatedly fails to care for them. 

These puppies travel over 17 hours, just to sit in cages and wait for someone to buy them. 



Ben and June Paxton: Greenfield, Iowa. License No. 42A0238

Supplies Animal Kingdom in Bismark, North Dakota, those pet store puppies have to sit in a van or semi for over 10 hours. 

As you can see in this link and from the pictures below, the dogs live their entire lives on these wires cages. This can cause deformities in their feet and legs. You can also see that their food bowls are excessively chewed. Ben and June have 102 adult dogs that will live in these cages all day, every day for the rest of their lives. 



Brule Creek Kennel; James and Cynthia Hayes, Akron, Iowa

 USDA license # 46-B-033  (licensed in South Dakota)

Supplies: Spectrum Pets, Irvine CA; Puppy World, Greenfield WI; Best Pets, Pacifica CA; Family Pet Center, Chesapeake VA; The Pet Shop, Newark NJ; Petland, Fort Meyers FL; PetWorld Inc, Rochester NY; Bob’s Tropical Pets, Ridge NY; Pups & Pets, Santee CA; Vilaggio Family Pets, Temecula CA; The Pet Shop, Bethleham PA; Petland, Largo FL; Petland, Rome GA; Oh My Dog, Kearney GA; Russo Pets; Newport Beach CA; Petland, Dallas TX

Wow. That’s all I can say…. On puppy mill supplying over 16 pet stores with puppies. Can you imagine how many litters the parent dogs must have? And when the breeder uses photos like the ones below ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE! You know that they have zero shame in what they are doing. 


Black Diamond Kennel; Gary Felts, Kingsley, Iowa

USDA License No. 42A0757

Supplies: Petland Kennesaw, Georgia

As always, Petland claims to use “reputable breeders”… Sadly, in the case of Petland Kennesaw, they chose one of the HSUS Horrible 100 worst puppy mills in the United States. Not even just one of the worst mills in Iowa. Nope, Gary Felts operates one of the worst puppy mills in the entire country. With years and years of violations, his dogs live their entire lives in the worst conditions without ever knowing proper vet care or the kindness of a human. After being born and raised in cruelty and filth, the puppies must travel over 15 hours just to sit in cages in the pet store. 



High Point Country Kennel: Noah and Lashell Thomas, Garden Grove, IA License No. 42A1454

Supplies Petland in Hollywood, Florida 

The photos below and the photos that the ASPCA received from the USDA inspection reports show that several of their dogs have excessively long nails, which hinders their ability to walk correctly. As you can see, these dogs are also forced to live on these wire floors their entire lives which, as we said before, can cause permanent injury to their feet and legs. The latest USDA reports are showing that they have 58 adult dogs on their property.  The store won’t ever admit that they chose a breeder like this, instead they claim on their website that “Petland puppies must meet standards before they can become Petland puppies.” 

After leaving one of the worst puppy mills in Iowa, the puppies have to endure a 22 hour trip, only to sit in a pet store cage. 



Northwest Kennel- Leonard Stover: Sheldon, Iowa. License No. 42B0186

Supplies Pet Ranch AKA Four Paws and a Tail in Minneapolis, Minnesota (A three hour trip for the puppies) 

If you haven’t yet, I implore you to click on this link and see all of the matted dogs. Leonard Stover has been sited several times for not grooming his animals. If you are unaware, mats can be very painful, dirty and can hide wounds. The pet store claims that the customers can be sure that they are receiving puppies “from a quality location”, these photos tell another story. Not only does he breed cats, he has over 114 adult dogs on his property. 



Mary Yoder: Bloomfield, Iowa. License No. 42B0283

Supplies:  American Breeders in Mohegan Lake, NY,  Laughlin Kennels in Oxford, MA,  NY Pet Club in Flushing, NY, U.S. Pets in Astoria, NY (At least an 18 hour trip for the puppies) 

Mary Yoder’s kennels are spotless, in fact they look almost sterile. She has over 400 adult dogs living in these cages all day, every day for the rest of their lives. This is where we run into problems with the definition of puppy mills. Some people will look at this breeder and think that spotless equals reputable. Others look at these kennels and see a very bleak life for the dogs. Yes, the cages appear clean, but is that the trade of for affection and exercise? Here is the link to the ASPCA site. 

Yoder has supplied puppies to  Petland Kennesaw. While they claim to use reputable breeders, Yoder has been cited over the years for various animal welfare violations. Her most recent inspection this year noted lack of protection from the elements (it was judged to be 14 degrees Fahrenheit that night) and a beagle and Boston terrier were noted to be shivering and lacking bedding. It was also noted that there was a lack of appropriate record keeping of USDA records on the dogs. Time and time again, these pet stores and puppy mill owners are failing the dogs… Why? Because the money is just too sweet to care about the well-being of animals. 




Brad Grotewold: in Lake Mills, Iowa. License No. 42A0119

Supplies:  Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets in Buffalo, NY, Petland #199 in Saint Paul, MN, Petland Robinson in Pittsburgh, PA, Alsip Nursery in Frankfort, IL, Petland in Las Vegas NV, Petland Kennesaw GA and The Perfect Pup inc. in Saint Charles, IL

Brad Grotewold sells to at least five pet stores, all of them claim to sell the best puppies. Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets goes as far to claim to have the “only source of screened quality bred puppies in WNY”. As you can see below and in this link, Brad has had numerous violations that were directly affecting the welfare of his animals. Excessive feces, rusty cages and feeders, excessive accumulation of feces, and cages with dirt build up. On the Petland website it states that they “start that process by selecting only the highest quality, healthy pets for our stores”. I wonder if their customers would agree with that statement? The Petland Robinson in Pittsburgh claims to help homeless animals, all while supporting this breeder. The Kicker? Brad Grotewold has over 369 adult breeding adults trapped in his facility. 

After leaving one of the worst puppy mills in Iowa, many of the puppies won’t survive their 18+ hour drive to the pet store. 



Laura Groeneweg: Rock Valley, IA. License No. 42A1296

Supplies: A Place for Pets in Seattle Washington

Laura Groeneweg’s puppies travel over 1700 miles to get to this Seattle based pet store. The store stands behind their puppies in saying that, “Our puppies come from good, caring, reliable people. The parents and puppies are well taken care of.” Sadly, the inspection reports beg to differ. According to this link and past inspection reports their breeder has been in trouble for using expired medications on their adult dogs, the adult dogs are in cages that do not meet space requirements, the puppies feet are too small and pass through the wire flooring, and there is an excessive build-up of feces. If only the customers could really see the hell that these dogs are going through on a daily basis, maybe then they wouldn’t buy the “cute” puppy in the pet store. With all of these violations, Laura only has 34 adult breeding dogs on her property. 



Nick and Tiffany Menne: Lime Springs, Iowa. License No. 42A1398

Supplies:  American Breeders in Danbury, CT and Puppy Experience – LI Puppy in Riverhead, NY

The Pet Store in Danbury, American Breeders states  that their “breeders have been personally selected to provide you with the best registered purebred and hybrid puppies you can find.” As you can see below and in this link,  this is one of the breeders that they personally selected. Nick and Tiffany Menne in Lime Springs, Iowa have had numerous USDA violations including excessive accumulation of dog waste (pictured below), dogs in outdoor enclosures with no shelter (pictured below), and several dogs with excessively long toe nails. You can see more photos and violations here. I wonder if American Breeders would proudly show these photos in their store, next to their guarantee of “personally selected breeders” or if The LI Puppy Experience would showcase this side of the “BEST BREEDERS WHICH OUR REPUTATION RELIES ON (taken from their website)”

.  Instead, these 209 adult breeding dogs get to eat, sleep and walk around in their own feces day after day for the rest of their lives. 



Jan Budden: Maurice, Iowa. License No. 42A1413

Supplies: We Love Pets, Media, Pennsylvania

With recent inspection reports showing over 66 adult dogs and a LONG list of violations (including use of expired medications, cages having excessive feces, cages have build up of dark brown liquid and previous violations including:  dogs requiring immediate vet care and use of expired medications), it makes us wonder why a pet store would purchase puppies from a place like this. It is clear that the adult dogs are not being cared for. Sadly, profit is the only thing that matters. So the puppies endure a 19+ hour ride, only to be sold to the first person who whips out their credit card. 



As you can see, there is a huge problem with the breeders that these pet stores are choosing to get their puppies from. There are several pet stores in Iowa that choose to get their puppies from places just like these (you can read about Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe and the mill that has 150 dogs trapped here and Critter nation and how they get their dogs from two huge puppy mills here). Also, Petland in Iowa City and Pet’s Playhouse in Cedar Rapids are knowingly purchasing puppies from Iowa puppy mills. Remember, Pet store puppies ARE puppy mill puppies– don’t buy the lies. 

Either these pet stores don’t know (highly unlikely) or they don’t care because business is booming. When are they going to be held accountable for the lies they are pushing on the public? We will add to this list as we come across more pet store/puppy mill connections. To read more about Iowa puppy mills by the numbers, please click here! 

Thank you for reading our Article, and please head over to our Facebook page and “like” us! 

** UPDATE*** Since this article published, a few pet stores have chosen to go HUMANE and only offer rescued animals– Alsip Nursery in Illinois (both of their locations!!) and A Place for Pets in Washington!

18 thoughts on “Iowa Puppy Mills Filling Pet Store Cages Across the US

  1. Susan Fitschen

    These breeders are soulless,greedy monsters! 3& 1/2 yrs ago my family received an emergency call from our local Humane Society that they a foster for 2 tiny approx 2 wk old puppy’s,could they bring them to us ASAP! We were ready and anxious to help. They arrived covered in their own waste,very weak and in distress. They needed immediate warming,food and of a course. Little was known at that time of evening about their exact circumstances so we did not take the time to delve into this issue,just preceded to get hating pad ready,a quick warm bath and dry off and formula ready to bottle feed them. They were so tiny and young that they had not yet gained full vision. We weren’t even sure about their breed!
    Later we were told they were part of a puppy mill/hoarder raid. The little one’s we soon figured out were Yorkies.
    Soon the little boy began to perk up but the girl remained very listless. A check with the HS vet indicated that she may not be able to eat because of a “possible” cleft palate. She was just too tiny to know if she could be saved,but we were going to do our best. Little Lu Lu did not pull through:( We also found out that her mother had too many pups to feed and was also in poor health. Little Luxie thrived and a forever love story began. We adopted him,just couldn’t let him go. This was our first and only “foster fail”. 🙂 I am writing this to let others know that this kind of heartless breeding goes on everyday and I am outraged that my home state of Iowa allows these kind of operations to exist.:(
    We had never been around a Yorkie and had no intention of getting one of this breed. We paid the same adoption fees as would anyone looking to adopt but he was worth every penny and no “pet store” made a profit from our furry baby.:)

  2. BailingOutBenji Post author

    Well, there is a huge difference legally between companion animals and livestock living in these conditions. It is very hard for the public to understand why pets can be kept in poor conditions like these and the entities in charge of protecting them aren’t.

  3. Mackenzie

    Is anything being done to shut the places down? If the ASPCA has this information why aren’t they taking the dogs from these people?

  4. Mackenzie

    That is so ridiculous!!! It makes me so mad that any person in their right mind thinks this is acceptable!!!

  5. Patty Patzman

    What really burns me (besides the horrible conditions these dogs are kept) is that I AM a reputable breeder of Cairn Terriers. I only breed one litter every 2-5 years. My dogs are all health tested (heart, eyes, joints, kidney, liver, thyroid) before they are even considered for breeding and then if they do not have good dispositions they will not be bred. I do show my dogs and will only breed the best of what I have. They are in our home (usually in my lap). The puppies from day one are kept where we can handle and interact with them multiple times each day. They are highly socialized and don’t leave our home until at least 12 weeks of age and then only to homes that have passed our scrutiny. After all this (and more) we small breeders are villianized and laws are being passed to make it difficult if not impossible to breed quality dogs, but yet these places are allowed to continue to flood the world with substandard (quality and health) animals.

  6. BailingOutBenji Post author

    Patty, I know that there are groups out there that believe all breeders are bad, please know that this isn’t one of them. We work hard to differentiate between bad breeders/puppy mills and reputable ones. We even try to help people who are set on buying dogs find reputable breeders. And we are always looking for more reputable breeders to speak out against these puppy mills. We need to find common ground and fix this problem together. Puppy mills aren’t doing anyone any favors.

  7. .

    Sad that there is a difference. Pigs, cows, chickens, et. al, suffer also, and then are sent to a terrifying death.

  8. Nicole

    I’m ashamed to say, the uneducated me of 1.5 years ago purchased my baby Casanova at a Petland in Davie, FL. My very educated, animal-loving, vegan sister warned me that Petland uses puppy mills but I didn’t truly understand. I asked them about teacup breeding and puppy mills and they assured me that they had nothing to do with either and I believed until my baby grew to only 4 pounds and I looked through his paperwork to see that his parents were also 4 pounds. I got curious about where he was from and decided to google his breeder and perhaps I would come across cute pictures of his mommy, happily sitting on her owners lap. How wrong I was. I found his breeder in this article and I feel sick. I keep telling myself that at least my little fur baby didn’t have to suffer there but I can’t stop thinking about his parents and all the other babies suffering there. Thank you so much for educating me, but what can I do??? I know it may be small, but I want to do my part to help??

  9. Mickey

    This makes me very sad. We currently own a dog from one of these puppy mills, Northwest Kennels in Sheldon, IA. I adopted her in 2008 because I fell in absolute love with her. It tears me up that her parents were… maybe still are at this facility. Our girl is one of the very best dogs I have ever known, but my God what her parents likely went through to provide us with this perfect little soul. Very bittersweet. We have rescue dogs as well and always try and rescue. Wednesday (our Chiweenie) has been our only petshop adoption.

  10. Cynthia Anderson

    This post about puppy mills makes me Sick! We just bought a puppy through a puppy matchmaker onlinewhich promised a USDA approved breeder in Iowa. We fell in love with the puppy as soon as we saw her and just picked her up at the airport a couple of days ago. She is beautiful, clean, loving, and well-behaved puppy for nine weeks old. She came from a small breeder in Iowa. When I tried to look up the kennel, there were no pictures, but also no violations listed. The puppy seems healthy and we love her. She goes to our vet Tues. morning. We have bought 3 other puppies from Petland in Ft Myers, FL, and had no trouble, but this article makes me wonder. How can you find out where your puppy is coming from when
    you go into a pet store? OR maybe you shouldn’t! We have been lucky I guess.

  11. Brett Steinbeck

    What if the Breeder was inspected by the USDA and is a CERTIFIED breeder to have less than 5 dogs? that’s where I bought my puppy from, and somebody STILL said They are Mills. how do you know these puppy Mills are supplying THOSE stores?? where do you get your info??? YES there are Puppy Mills but not all Breeders are bad, You are giving the GOOD breeders a BAD name. You are a bunch of activists that are against breeding PERIOD. You want everyone to adopt a rescue, well I don’t want a USED Dog that i’m going to spend $2000 dollars in vet bills. You guys all work for Bob Barker.

  12. Pingback: Amish breeders under scrutiny for neglect • Pet Rescue Report

  13. Pingback: Iowa: Dog Breeders Under Scrutiny for Neglect - Word Matters!

  14. Suzanne Soto

    Went into our local petland store in nw Indiana to ask to see one of the newest pups and took a pic of his collar to research where he may have come from. Thanks to your site I realized he was from a breeder in Iowa w connections to puppy mills. Feel awful for the pup but sickened by the $2100 dollar price they were asking after knowing fully the conditions in which this pup and parents were from. Name on his tag was Pam Habbinga breaks my heart.

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