Puppy Laundering 2.0: Steve Kruse and Stonehenge Kennels

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©Bailing Out Benji 2024

All work was done by the research team at Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted.

To view the rest of our research, click here

Editor’s Note: All of the information found in the article below was obtained through public records requests from the USDA, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, and other publicly available information.

Brief summary of Bailing Out Benji’s findings: USDA dog breeder Steve Kruse owner of Stonehenge Kennels in West Point, Iowa, has been sending his pregnant females to his former employee Brian Lichirie, who operates another USDA facility (42-B-0317). Lichirie whelps the puppies and sells them to stores and various other outlets while returning the mother dogs to Kruse for future breeding. According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture, dogs are regularly transported between Kruse and another problematic USDA broker Wuanita Swedlund.

We believe that this is done in an attempt to keep Steve Kruse’s name off of documents that could publicly link him to the businesses he sells to.  Several of the businesses that Kruse/Lichirie sell to are located in states that have laws which may prohibit stores from buying from facilities with violations.

Thousands of puppies have been mislabeled in an attempt to wash their connection to the Kruse property and their associated violations and USDA enforcement actions.

We are working to put an end to that.

Puppy Laundering 2.0: Steve Kruse and Stonehenge Kennels 

In 2018, Bailing Out Benji uncovered what is now known as the ‘Nationwide Puppy-Laundering Scheme”. This scheme was an organized effort by USDA brokers to become 501c3 rescues in order to skirt local and state laws that prohibit stores from selling puppies from commercial dog breeders.

At the center of this scheme was JAKS Puppies, a USDA broker out of Britt, Iowa who founded not just one, but two sham rescues and was actively selling puppy mill puppies through their sham agencies to pet stores in Chicago and California even though laws were in place to prevent that. After our public lawsuit and numerous complaints to various agencies, the Iowa Attorney General picked this case up and found that JAKS Puppies was guilty of charity fraud and ordered their rescues to dissolve. You can read more about that case here or listen to the Sony podcast on the case here


Unfortunately, puppy-laundering is even more prolific than we ever realized. Some of the largest and most cruel puppy mills in the country are laundering their puppies through third parties to avoid any scrutiny for themselves or the pet stores/websites they sell through.

Background: Stonehenge Kennels. West Point, Iowa


Steven Leon Kruse, or Steve Kruse as he is infamously known, operates Stonehenge Kennels in West Point, Iowa. His USDA license number is 42-B-0182 and the USDA has authorized him to have a ‘maximum number of 3,550 animals.

At the time of the last publicly available USDA inspection on 12/5/2023, Kruse had 502 adult breeding dogs on his property. Since 2020, Kruse has racked up 6 direct violations and 16 non-critical violations. 

Don’t be pacified by that seemingly low number though. Under a majority of these violations, more than one dog was affected. In fact, sometimes a dozen or more dogs are listed underneath a violation which goes on to count as only one strike against Steve Kruse. Kruse was also suspended in 2023 due to his violations and also received enforcement actions in 2016 after he threw a bag containing two dead puppies at the USDA inspector. 

Below is an example of one violation that Kruse received in 2023 that affected 13 dogs. 

Because of the volume and type of violations depicted in the USDA inspections, we believed and still believe that those violations rose to the level of animal cruelty and neglect. In 2023, Bailing Out Benji filed a complaint with the Lee County Sheriff and the Lee County Attorney to request an investigation into Stonehenge Kennels. Many of the violations Kruse has received since 2020 break Iowa’s animal cruelty laws and those should be investigated through the lens of our cruelty code. At the time of this article, neither Sheriff Stacey Weber or County Attorney Ross Braden have pressed charges against Steve Kruse for animal cruelty or animal neglect. 

To say this breeder has a problematic history though is barely scratching the surface. 

One of the most concerning things that our organization has been working to uncover for years was finding out where Kruse was selling his dogs. With hundreds of adult breeding dogs and zero puppies on sight, it was extremely suspicious that Kruse’s name hadn’t appeared on a CVI in almost a decade. We have spent thousands of dollars on FOIA requests to track down puppies and kittens that move across the country, yet Stonehenge Kennels never showed up on any documents as selling puppies. 

Ghost Litters

In a recent attempt to figure out how Steve Kruse didn’t get additional violations when we caught him selling puppies at a dog auction during his suspension in 2023, we turned to a 456-page FOIA from the USDA that documents the investigation into our complaint, as well as complaints from others. Within the FOIA, we found the answer to all of our questions.

We found that the term puppy-laundering has more layers than we initially thought. So where do Steve Kruse’s puppies go? Why do his inspections rarely, if ever, include puppies?

According to the USDA, Steve Kruse takes his pregnant dogs to a facility owned by Brian Lichirie, a former employee of Kruse and another USDA-licensed dog broker in West Point, Iowa. Lichirie then whelps the puppies to sell them to pet stores and online websites. The documents that the businesses and customers are given say Lichirie’s name as the breeder while he quietly returns the mother dogs to Kruse to be bred again. 

Kruse’s name is omitted from every birth record.

From every pedigree registry. 

From every health record. 

No customer will ever know that their puppy was bred at Stonehenge Kennels.

Steve Kruse is operating as a ghost in this massive industry when he is actually one of the largest cogs in the puppy mill machine. This action takes away the consent of a buyer to make an informed decision when purchasing a puppy and it skirts local and state laws that prevent a problematic breeder like Steve Kruse from selling puppies that were inhumanely bred. We believe that this is similar to the JAKS puppies/Hobo K9 case and could be constituted as consumer fraud. 

USDA dog broker Wuanita Swedlund from Cantril, Iowa is also one of Steve Kruse’s associates. In May of 2023, Kruse confirmed to his USDA inspector that he “still maintains adult breeding dogs at two locations.” His West Point site and his Cantril site. Additionally, the  Iowa Department of Agriculture reports that “dogs are regularly transported between this facility (Swedlund) and AW #4576 (Kruse)”.

After being USDA licensed for only 5 months, Wuanita Swedlund received 1 direct violation, 1 critical violation, and 15 non-critical violations. These violations resulted in an official warning from the USDA, but no suspension. As of February 2024, Swedlund was told by the Iowa Department of Agriculture that she “was not to exceed more than 30 adult dogs in the facility until the facility maintains compliance for a minimum period of one year.” Even though Steve Kruse operates this location as a satellite location for his business, he doesn’t appear to get in trouble when this side of his company gets violations. 

It gets worse. Problematic puppy mills owned by Woody Wiley and Daniel Gingerich operated on this exact same property with, what we believe to be, the same business model. Both of these facilities were in deep trouble with the USDA, and Gingerich ended up getting his license revoked, cruelty charges and 500+ animals seized. 

We will be publishing more information on Wuanita Swedlund, her connection to Steve Kruse, and their associated businesses in a future article. Please follow us on social media or sign up for our mailing list here

Our investigation and enforcement into Stonehenge Kennels and their associated partners is ongoing and more information will be made public soon.

So where are these Kruse/Lichirie puppies going? 

Health records are required each time an animal crosses state lines, which is how we were able to obtain the information below. Nearly every single one of the records leaving Brian Lichrie’s facility and heading to the businesses below were signed by the Veterinarian Jerry Couchman, who operates his own USDA breeding facility (42-A-1719) and had 95 adult breeding dogs at the time of this February 2024 inspection. 

The following businesses have received puppies from Brian Lichirie in 2024 and 2023. This isn’t an exhaustive list and more businesses could be added in the future. 

  1. BFF Puppies. 1910 Wells Rd. Orange Park, Florida
  2. Biyu Puppies & Grooming. 2050 W 56th St #17. Hialeah, Florida
  3. Chews A Puppy. 11167 W Colonial Dr, Ocoee, Florida
  4. Companions to You. 1120 N Grand Ave. Covina, California (not a confirmed business or address). 
  5. CT Breeder. 48 Westport Ave. Norwalk
  6. Diamonds & Doggies. 111 Commercial Blvd, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida
  7. Epic Puppies Broward. 5716 W Hallandale Bach Blvd. West Park, Florida
  8. Friends Love AKA Friends Puppy Store. 2727 Fairfield Commons Blvd. Beavercreek, Ohio
  9. Groomingdalz of Mt. Kisco. 19 East Main Street, Mount Kisco, New York
  10. LBS Puppies. Corydon, Indiana. (not a confirmed business or address.)
  11. LoneWolf Kennel. 143 HWY E E, Iberia, Missouri
  12. Luxury Puppies. 8981 SW 40th St, Miami, Florida
  13. Nessy’s Puppies of Kendall. 8690 SW 137 Court, Kendall Florida 
  14. NY Breeders. 45 Tarry Town Rd. Greenburg, New York
  15. Pet Wonderland Inc. 508 Blackman Street, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania 
  16. Petables Puppy Boutique. 270 Laurel Mall Dr, Hazle Township, Pennsylvania
  17. Pettito. 2501 W Memorial Rd, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  18. Princess Puppy. 1205 W Sunset Rd #150, Henderson, Nevada
  19. Puppies & Rescues. 8991 Taft St, Pembroke Pines, Florida
  20. Puppies By Z. 7902 NW 36th St Suite 9, Doral, Florida 
  21. Puppy Country. 12121 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio 
  22. Puppy Dreams Arlington. 2401 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 145. Arlington, Texas
  23. Puppy Dreams Wichita. 6810 W Kellogg Dr Ste 120. Wichita, Kansas 
  24. Puppy House Washington. 875 W Red Cliffs Dr #7, Washington, Utah
  25. Puppy Town. 6870 Spring Mountain Road #9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  26. Select a Puppy. 1839 NJ-35, Middletown Township, New Jersey
  27. Select Puppies. West Point, Iowa 
  28. Smart Puppies for Sale. 501 Summer St. Stamford, Connecticut
  29. Superstar Puppies AKA Puppy Olam. 11213-G Lee Hwy. Fairfax, Virginia
  30. The Left Paw Puppies. 411 – A Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, New York
  31. The Puppy Palace. 2945 Main St. Glastonbury, Connecticut
  32. Wags About You. 822 SW Federal Hwy, Stuart, Florida
  33. Worldwide Puppies & Kittens. 2560 Sunrise Hwy, Bellmore, New York

Additional facilities and individuals have been withheld due to our ongoing work on this case. They will be made available after complaints have been filed. 

At the time of this article, Steve Kruse still holds an active USDA  license and is still registered as a federal dealer with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. 

This will be an ongoing case for us as we file complaints with various agencies regarding Steve Kruse and his associates. 

If you have questions or you are a customer that purchased a puppy from Steve Kruse, Brian Lichirie, Wuanita Swedlund or any of their associated businesses, please contact us using the form below. 

You can read our follow up reports on this case here: 

Steve Kruse and the Cursed Property