Bailing Out Benji Presents Iowa’s FIRST State-wide Puppy Mill Awareness Event

Iowa’s first ever state-wide 



Iowa has over 230 USDA licensed “puppy mills”, with over 23,000 adult dogs trapped in cages for the entirety of their lives! (This number doesn’t include the unlicensed mills that we often hear about in the news!) Iowa, alone, sells  over 100,000 puppies to pet stores and through internet sales… After seeing a lack of knowledge among Iowans about this topic, it was clear that something more widespread needed to be done. I decided to reach out to many shelters across Iowa, and many of them jumped at the opportunity to help spread awareness about puppy mills in their area! Although puppy mill awareness day is September 15, that isn’t stopping these guys from making puppy mill awareness a MONTH LONG EVENT! Please head over to our facebook page and leave your thoughts, don’t forget to like us 🙂 

 Below is a partial list of participating groups that wanted to join in for a great cause! These groups deserve a huge thanks from all of us, as they are the heroes in our state! Please consider attending one (or all!) of these events and help those that are truly trying to save lives and remember to stop by their facebook pages and thank them for all that they do! If the event is gray, it has already passed- but you can go to our facebook page and read about how the event turned out! 

SIOUX CITY, Iowa– September 1st and 2nd, 2012. Please join Noah’s hope animal rescue at ArtSplash in Grandview Park, Sioux City from 10-6 on Sat. and 10-4 on Sun. Parents, bring your children to work on fun crafts, as you are educated about puppy mills! This free event  is open to all and promises to be fun and educational for those that attend! Don’t forget to stop by their facebook page and thank them for their participation in this campaign!

DECORAH, Iowa- September 8th, 2012. The Humane Society of Northeast Iowa (formerly known as PAWS) will be hosting an “Adopt, Don’t Shop” event at Critters and Such Pet Care 2339 179th Ave, Decorah from 11am to 1pm. It is up to you to free the HSNEI youth from their cages with donations for keys! This amazing group of volunteers really took this idea and ran with it! Please consider attending this fun and informative event!  For more information, “like” their facebook page and stay up to date on the latest news in your area!


MASON CITY, Iowa– September 15, 2012…. Please visit the Humane Society of North Iowa at their facility to check out their new puppy mill awareness display! They will have a booth set up with information for a few weeks in hopes of spreading the word! Don’t forget to “like” their facebook page.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa–  September 15, 2012… Please join the Last Hope Rescue of Iowa as they educate the Downtown Farmers Market at the Green Square Park from  7:30am – Noon! Browse through (and purchase) their dog treats, blankets, and other dog accessories, as well as hear some educational information about puppy mills! 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- September 15, 2012… After hitting up the farmers market, please hit up Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids   10am – 2pm, where Last Hope Rescue of Iowa will ALSO be educating citizens about puppy mills, as well as selling some more items for their rescue. This amazing rescue will have brochures and other information to take with you about puppy mills! Don’t forget to stop by their facebook page and tell them thanks for spreading the word! 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- September 15th, 2012. Please join the Cedar Rapids Weim Club at the Cedar Rapids Dog Park (heyenne Park, 1650 Cedar Bend Lane SW), as they host a meet and greet! The club will have information to share with all of the dog owners about puppy mills! And what better day to host such an event, that puppy mill awareness day itself! Please head over to their facebook page and “like” this amazing group!

JEFFERSON, Iowa- September 15th, 2012. Please join PAWS of Greene County from 9am to 4pm as they host their own kind of puppy mill awareness event at the Red Barn Craft Show, which is held at the Greene County Fairgrounds. Please stop by their tent to check out the adorable adoptables and hear some very important information about puppy mills! More information about their adoptable animals can be found on their website. 

SIOUX CITY, Iowa September 15th and 16th. Join Noah’s Hope Animal Rescue at PetSmart (5001 Sergeant Rd) as they educate the customers about puppy mills and why you should adopt, instead of shop for pets! In attendance will be many of their adorable adoptables, who are all fully vetted and microchipped before adoption! Spread the word far and wide, because any attention to this topic in Woodbury County is great! Go to Noah’s Hope Animal Rescue’s facebook page and thank them for standing up for the puppy mill dogs! 

DES MOINES, Iowa- September 16th, 2012. Please join Illinois Bulldog Rescue at PetSmart (5050 Southeast 14th Street), as they show of some of their bulldog rescues. We will have a table there with information on IEBR, puppy mills and knowledgeable volunteers to answer any questions that you might have! IEBR rescues many dogs from puppy mills, and we are so proud to have them as a part of this education event! Please go to their facebook page and give them a huge thanks for all that they do! 

AMES, Iowa–  September 18th, 2012. Please join the student group Students Helping Rescue Animals on campus at Iowa State University from 12 pm- 2pm as they hand out information about puppy mills! This is an amazing event, as these students are trying to educate the target audience of many pet stores/puppy mills. 

DAVENPORT, Iowa- Friday, September 21st, 7pm – 10pm K9 Kindness Rescue will be hosting Trivia Night at the Knight’s of Columbus 1111 W. 35th Street Davenport. This fun event does cost $10 per person or $80 per table, but it is a fun-filled night that is sure to entertain and educate you! Call 563.391.1908 to make reservations – tables fill up quickly! They are non-profit and all of the proceeds will go to animals! Please like them on facebook and stay updated on this event and more! 

AMANA, Iowa- September 23rd, 2012. Safe Haven of Iowa County is hosting their “Walking Fur All Fours” annual dog walk from 2-4 pm at the Amana Pavillion, and will be highlighting puppy mills!  What a better way to educate dog lovers than to have a dog walk ! Join this great cause on facebook!

EPWORTH, Iowa- Oct. 5, 2012 from 6:30-7:30. Please join the Canine Connection LLC as they host a free educational meeting about common dog problems, dog training and puppy mills! This will be held at the Dubuque County Library, Epworth branch. A donation jar will be set out help Homeward Bownd Siberian Husky rescue! Please like both of these amazing groups on facebook, and stay up to date on the training do’s and don’t’s with Canine Connection! 

ASBURY, Iowa- October 12, 2012 from 1-2pm. Please join the Canine Connection LLC as they host a free educational meeting about common dog problems, dog training and puppy mills! This will be held at the Asbury Eagles’ club, .5900 Saratoga Plaza, Suite 10.  A donation jar will be set out help Homeward Bownd Siberian Husky rescue! Please like both of these amazing groups on facebook, and stay up to date on the training do’s and don’t’s with Canine Connection! 

FORT DODGE, IOWA– October 14th, 2012. Almost Home of North Central Iowa will be hosting their Family Flashback days at…. This fun family event will include races, pie throwing, other games, as well as events that will educate the visitors about puppy mills. Head on over to their facebook page  and stay updated on the latest news from Almost Home! 

DAVENPORT, Iowa October 14th, 2012.  The Humane Society of Scott County will be hosting their annual Fall Fur-stival at their facility 2802 West Central Park Avenue, Davenport from 2-4pm. Lots of fun, games and education is to be had at the Tail-gating PAW-tay… Top Tail-Gaters choose a theme with games and recipes to share but no alcoholic beverages, please! Earn the most Visitors’ Choice votes for your PAW-tay and win a Best of the Lot prize! Want to show your team spirit? Pet parents- dress your pet  up to show your team spirit and  YOU could win the Top Prize vote from a celebrity judge! Please visit their facebook page for more info. 


Here are a few of our out-of-state participants. 

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine– September 8th, 2012. The Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills are attending WOOF STOCK at Round Top Farm in Damariscotta, Maine from 10 am til 4pm. Over 23 rescues will be in attendance as well as the H.S.U.S, Maine Friends of Animal. Our partners, The Maine Citizens Against Puppy mills will be having an educational table there, educating many of the consumers on the dangers of shopping for pets! This event will also have an all breed dog show, agility demo’s, obedience demo’s, a yard sale and all around dog fun all day long! Please consider attending this fun event and don’t forget to like” them on facebook! 

WOODBURY, Minnesota- September 9th, 2012. Peke N Chin Midwest Rescue will again be participating in the Open House held at All Breed Obedience in Woodbury from 10 am to 2 pm.  This is a terrific event focused on what families can do with their adopted canines for fun once they bring them home, such as rehabilitation, therapy work, search and rescue training, obedience classes, etc… All members of the public who attend are encouraged to bring cat and dog food that is donated to the participating rescue groups at the end of the open house! Please consider attending this event   and please give this rescue the thanks that they deserve! Head over to their facebook page and give them a shout out! 

OMAHA, Nebraska- September 16th, 2012. The Pug Partners of Nebraska are hosting a Car &Dog wash at the  The Green Spot Omaha – 72nd and Pacific (1110 South 71st Street Bay K Omaha, NE 68106).  They will working fundraise and raise awareness about puppy mills! The prices are $10 for a car wash/$10 dog wash/ $10 dog nail trim, or all of the above! Click here for the event on facebook and don’t forget to “like” this amazing rescue on facebook. They work hard to rescue many pugs from puppy mills! 

SALEM, Massachusetts– September 22, 2012 from 12 – 5 PM. Please join PMAD as they help to spread the word about puppy mills in their area! Not only will they be spreading awareness about puppy mills, they will also be having a pooch parade, doggy kissing booths and many more activities! Join them on facebook and check out their event page for more info! 

CHICAGO, Illinois- September 30, 2012 12:00 pm. Join The Puppy Mill Project as they march down Michigan Avenue in honor of Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Route Begins at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. Help them show Chicago and the world that dogs are still man’s best friend! Register for the event here.

AUSTIN, Texas- September, 30, 2012. Hosted by Last Chance for Animals at the Fiesta Gardens. This special event includes an art auction, complete with works from actual puppy mill survivors, a silent auction, and the chance to meet Shannon Elizabeth, Victoria Stillwell, and Rikki Rockett! Consider going to this amazing event and show that you are against puppy mills! Learn more about the event here

St. Paul, Minnesota– October 6th, 2012. Peke N Chin Midwest Rescue will be attending the The Great Minnesota Pet Together  at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds International Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will be taking this opportunity to not only adopt out some of their adorable rescues, but educating many about puppy mills and the effect they have on homeless animals in shelters and rescues across the nation. Please consider attending this event and showing your support to Peke N Chin Midwest, as they have rescued many dogs from puppy mills! Don’t forget to head over to their facebook page!


(This article will be continuously updated as I receive more event info. Some groups are still putting the finishing touches on their event info.) If your group would like to be included in this event, please send us an email at …. Join the rest of the state in standing up against puppy mills! 

If you are interested in brochures about puppy mills, please send me an email as well and I will send you the file!


And AS ALWAYS, please “like” Bailing Out Benji on facebook 🙂  And don’t forget to share this article, to give these events the publicity that they deserve! 

I would like to send out a special thanks to Happy Medium,  who worked very hard on flyers for these events! They were efficient, hard-working and I would recommend them to anyone that needs marketing of any kind!

**I also want to note that Bailing Out Benji never asks for donations. All of the work we do is simply because we love animals.**

Animal Welfare Act and the USDA


Updated 2020 © Bailing Out Benji

Actual USDA licensed and inspected breeder from Iowa 

So many people have questions about USDA licensed breeders, the people who inspect them, and why certain licensed breeders are allowed to get away with many violations without any consequence- not to mention the many problems we have with small town zoos.   The Animal Welfare Act can be difficult to interpret, and it is subjective to each inspector. 

It’s important to note exactly what inspectors are looking for when they arrive at a USDA licensed kennel. Their job is to make sure breeders are adhering to the minimum standards set forth by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), but that is it. They can look at a facility with hundreds of dogs in small cages, desperate for human attention, and note no violations. In fact, in recent years the USDA has moved towards sharing “teachable moments” with their licensees; where they share concerns verbally and write nothing down on an official report. NOTE: Currently, when a USDA inspector utilizes the “teachable moment” policy, or ignores violations in accord with self-reporting or other recently changed policies, the inspector makes the following notation on the official inspection report: “No non-compliant items.” Then the inspector documents, either on a separate “teachable moment” document, or in his/her field notes, the specific non-compliant items discovered during the inspection. (source: MAAL) 

That’s because the AWA does nothing to ensure dogs are happy, or live a quality life. It’s not written into the regulations, and therefore is not something the USDA enforces. Here are some quick facts about the minimum standards set forth by the USDA:

-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 . ( Please note: A dog breeding limit can be set on the state level and has been in Washington, Oregon, Virginia and Louisiana ) . 
-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.

Animals covered under this act are: Dogs, Cats, Monkeys (other nonhuman primate mammals), guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, and other warm-blooded animals that is intended for use in research, testing, or exhibition. 

Not all animals are covered by this act. Excluded animals include: Birds, Cold Blooded Animals, Fish, Rats and Mice, Amphibians, and livestock (cows, horses, pigs). 

Certain facilities are covered by the AWA, which means that these types of facilities must be USDA licensed. These include facilities that: Breed animals for commercial sale (such as puppy mills), Use animals used in research, Transport animals commercially, or Publically exhibit animals (such as zoos, aquariums)

Facilities not covered by the AWA include pet stores, farms and hobby breeders. 

Taken from the USDA website. Their calculations showing dogs only need 6 inches of space around their bodies

As noted above, the AWA does nothing to address boredom, emotional well- being or quality of life. A dog spinning in circles in a tiny cage 24-7 would not trigger a USDA violation as long as that dog appears outwardly healthy and the cage is at least 6 inches taller that the dogs’ head and 6 inches wider and longer than the dog measures from nosetip to tail BASE. This is an example of why the AWA needs to be rewritten. Emotional torture is every bit as damaging as physical torture for these dogs. The AWA requires that basic standards of care and  treatment be provided for certain animals bred and sold  for use as pets, used in biomedical research, transported  commercially, or exhibited to the public. Individuals  who operate facilities in these categories must provide  their animals with adequate care and treatment in the  areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water,  veterinary care, and protection from extreme weather  and temperatures. Sadly, the word adequate doesn’t meet many of OUR standards.

Most commercial breeders use wire flooring on their cages so the feces and urine are able to fall through the openings. This set up is another cruel part of the industry. When people started getting smart and complaining that the wire flooring was causing further injury and deformity to the dogs, the breeders asked that the USDA refer to it as “mesh”. After many people spoke up, the USDA required the wire to be coated, as opposed to making the wire thicker. Any attempts at making changes to these regulations has been met with much resistance.  

Although Federal requirements  establish basic standards, regulated businesses are encouraged to exceed these standards. (AWA website.Most do not. Unfortunately, many USDA licensees not only have a history of violations, but they have many repeat violations with no follow-up or enforcement by the USDA. In fact, every year the Humane Society of the United States creates a “Horrible Hundred” puppy mill list, and many of the violators are repeat offenders. 

-Recent updates with the USDA 2019- 

It is also important to note that in February of 2017, the USDA removed all of their public access to USDA inspection reports in a shocking and sudden move, leaving countless animal welfare organizations in the dark on what is going on within these facilities. Several organizations are in ongoing litigation to fight for our right to obtain the records in their full, un-redacted state. This made our work a lot harder. 

Since the records have been redacted before being released for public viewing, we have seen a dramatic difference in what inspectors are reporting. In fact, the Washington Post uncovered that  the USDA’s enforcement of the AWA had virtually stopped in 2018. See photo obtained from the Washington Post Below. 

Provided by the Washington Post

In 2019, the Washington Post also provided additional research showing that “USDA inspectors documented 60 percent fewer violations at animal facilities in 2018 from the previous year.” You can view their full article here. See the photo obtained from them below. 

Obtained by the Washington Post

This is why there is a huge need for organizations like Bailing Out Benji to exist. We not only research the puppy mill industry, but we connect them to the pet stores they sell to and we have volunteers working to end this cruel industry every day. This is where we need your help! Keep talking about puppy mills and help us educate; go to your city, state and federal leaders to strengthen enforcement on a local level; and don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to get more involved with our small nonprofit! You can also view our pet store research here. 


-Recent updates with the USDA 2020- 

On the orders of Congress, the USDA was recently forced to reinstate all of their records back on the USDA website. 


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


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

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

Sources are the AWA website, MAAL,  Washington Post,

Reputable Breeder or Puppy Mill?

In this day and age, the term “puppy mill” is becoming a blanket term for all dog breeders.  I don’t think that this is very fair. I have met many reputable breeders in my lifetime and they don’t deserve it… But on the same token, I have seen MANY USDA licensed breeding facilities that have brought me to tears because of how they treat their animals.

So if you are coming across this page because you are looking for tips on how to spot a less than reputable breeder, I hope that this information helps…

If you are a breeder and want to leave your thoughts, please do so!

If you are offended by anything in this article, PLEASE let me know… I would consider that a red flag, in itself- but I am open to all suggestions.

Great vs Not-so-great Breeders

Taking time to consider what breed of dog you should get is very important… You need to consider temperament, size, age. But it is equally important to decide from where or whom you will be acquiring the dog. This article describes a few differences between a reputable breeder and breeders that are best avoided. These are just some generalizations and in the end you, as the consumer, have to decide whether or not the person you are acquiring the puppy from has their interests in the right place. If you are left with any questions after you read this, please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you!

Finding the RIGHT Breeder

Sometimes finding a respectable breeder that specializes in the breed you are interested in may not be all that easy and it may be tempting to settle for the first breeder that you find. Unfortunately there are many ‘breeders’ that care little for the dogs they raise or for the customers they get. These are typically what some might call backyard breeders (BYB) or puppy mills. The term backyard breeder has different definitions to different people; the more inclusive definition might encompass anyone who breeds dogs without the goal of improving the breed and the more exclusive definition is limited to someone that breeds to make a profit. At times puppy mills or other mass breeders might try to sugar coat what they are by giving themselves appealing names such as puppy farm or professional sounding like commercial breeder but don’t let that fool you it’s all the same thing: people that breed and only care for your money.

Remember that a dog is a long term commitment; your canine companion will be with you for 12+ years, getting him should not be something that is decided overnight or in one trip to the pet store. Dogs are not an “until” pet they are a FOREVER pet… If by chance you end up getting a dog that was poorly bred and has genetic problems it will end up costing you not only financially but also emotionally and physically. When talking to the breeder, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for proof of claims, a reputable breeder will happily show you a pedigree when asked about it. Now let’s take a look at some things that distinguish good breeders from the bad ones.

The Reputable Breeder

A responsible or hobby breeder knows full well that breeding is not a business; it’s not a means to get some extra cash. Then one might ask: if they don’t make a profit, why do they do it? Just as the name implies, they do it because it’s a hobby, a passion. They desire to improve the breed they have taken a liking to. To do the best they can they acquire as much knowledge about their breed as is humanely possible, they literally could go on and on about the history of their breed, what it was used for, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.

A reputable breeder will tend not to breed their dogs that are under 2 years of age; this is most likely due to the fact that one an important genetic test (OFA) cannot be preformed until the age of 2. Many will not continue breeding dogs that are over 8 years of age and usually a dog will not be bred more than 4 times in their life time. A hobby breeder doesn’t breed every time a bitch is in heat because they will only produce the amount of pups they can care, groom and socialize. If asked, these breeders can explain why a specific breeding pair was matched up, what traits they were trying to enhance or what characteristics they were trying to eliminate.

Another thing that distinguishes reputable breeders is that they take very good care of their breeding dogs and litters. They tend to raise the litters in the home to accustom them to family life. Usually the breeding female or male participates in conformation shows and competitive dog sports. While this may seem like ‘fun’ it is a critical part of assessing how well their specific dogs represent the breed and how well they perform as compared to other specimens of their breed. If the breeder doesn’t compare against other then how is she/he to know that they are producing the best? Or what needs to be improved? One will notice that a good breeder’s environment and whelping area is extra clean and that they have truly invested in specialized equipment instead of improvising and using makeshift equipment.

On average a hobby breeder will not release their puppies until the dog has 8 weeks of age and some breeders may not release them until 10 weeks of age. This is to ensure proper socialization of the pooch with the help of his littermates and mother. Because reputable breeders rely more on word of mouth and club or breed organizations, they seldom IF EVER advertise in the newspaper or with flyers. This includes craigslist! Any breeder that is finding a home for their puppies on craigslist is a BYB.  This of course isn’t to say that it’s impossible to find good breeders in the classifieds but the chances of doing so are really low. Also hobby breeders don’t rely on third parties such as pet stores or brokers to place their puppies. Remember that they have worked hard to produce these pups, if anything they’ll want to make sure they go to perfect homes.

When it comes to prospective buyers a truly honest breeder won’t be afraid to discourage you from buying a puppy or from referring you to another breeder. They will openly discuss the advantages of the breed, as well as the disadvantages.  Many also do customer screenings which is usually done through an interview and maybe even a home check. They will provide you with a contract that clearly states that you may be reimbursed for the cost of the puppy should it have genetic defects (without having to return the dog), whether or not you will have to alter the dog, and other things that protects the buyer and breeder. Respectable breeders will not usually show you the litter on the first visit or if the puppies are 5 weeks or younger; the reason being that they want to avoid bringing any illness to the pups, upsetting the mother, and they also want to prevent impulse buying or hasty emotional attachments. In due time, however, they won’t hesitate to show you the whole litter and the parent(s).

Good breeder will always provide proof of claims they make, this might be in the form of a pedigree, test results, contracts, etc. Breeders will provide you with proof of genetic testing on the puppy, the parents or most likely both. Some of the common tests breeder do are the OFA (for hips), CERF (for eyes), PennHIP (for hips), and BAER (for hearing) just to name a few. These will also be up to date, the CERF testing, for example, has to be done every year. Probably the most distinguishable aspect of a good breeder is that they stay in contact with those that they have sold their puppies to. They are more than willing to provide grooming, training, and medical advice if needed. They will also take the dog back no matter how old, if the owner can no longer take care of him.

The above mentioned characteristics are what really set apart the good breeders from the bad ones. One can usually find good breeders through breed organizations with connections with the AKC, UKC, FCI or some other reputable registry. The quickest way to find the official breed club is to Google the breed name (no misspellings) and find the link that say (Breed Name) Club of America, or something to that effect. The AKC website also has some ways to find reputable breeders that specialize in whatever breed you are looking to buy.

The Profit Breeder

Most breeders that are not reputable will tend to fall into two categories: backyard breeders and puppy mills. With exception of puppy mills, bybs aren’t always bad people. Half of the time they are people that don’t know that they are doing wrong and are ignorant as to the proper way to breed dogs. This of course isn’t to say that they are not a factor to the over-crowding in shelters and pounds but some of these, when taught that they are doing wrong, will try their best to become respectable breeders or stop breeding altogether. There are, of course, some that simply won’t listen and are too addicted to the money they bring in; these people are seriously looked down upon by the dog people community. According to the AKC estimates that in 1996 70% of dogs that were registered as purebreds were bred by people that bred their dogs only to later found out how expensive, exhausting and heartbreaking it was and then later decided to fix their dog.

Puppy mills on the other hand are completely greedy and should be avoided at all times. While they may not sell directly to people, they majority of puppy mills will ship their dogs off to pet stores and receive profits from whatever they sell. That is why many advocate never purchasing puppies from pet stores even though they may claim that they get their pups from reputable breeders; remember as mentioned above, good breeders don’t use third parties to place their puppies.

Puppy mills breed for money, there is no reasoning around that; however, backyard breeders produce litters for a myriad of ignorant and illogical reasons. Some of the most common reasons are listed below:

Our dog is great and if we breed him he’ll produce equally great pups.

We want puppies that are going to be just like our dog.

A(n) friend/family/acquaintance wants a dog just like ours.

Selling dogs is an easy way to bring in extra money.

We want to make back the money we spent on our dog.

All female dogs should have at least one litter to be happy/healthy/well behaved.

We can’t afford to spay her.

Our breeder wants us to breed our dog.

We want to breed our dog because he comes from champion lines.

It’s ok to breed our dog because she is AKC registered.

In some cases backyard breeder may indeed love their dogs very much, but even so they do very little to ensure that the dogs that other people are going to end up loving just as much are free of genetic problems. The majority of the time a BYB will breed their dog with any other dog of the same breed (if that) without doing any genetic testing to make sure they are a good match, it is very rare to find a bad breeder that breeds and keeps in mind conformation or improvement of the breed. And even though the chances of acquiring a dog with a health problem is higher if the dog is from an irresponsible breeder, they offer no health guarantee and are unqualified to give medical advice should problems arise. To sum it up, once the money has been exchanged, you are on your own.

The majority of backyard breeders and puppy mills have little to no knowledge on AKC standards, and they don’t make an effort to further any knowledge they may have with participation in breed clubs.  Some will have the audacity to say that AKC conformation doesn’t matter for ‘pet quality’ dogs. Pet quality dogs are usually purebred dogs that have a characteristic that would be considered a fault in a conformation show or have something that makes them unfit for showing. One should wonder why they are breeding ‘pet quality’ dogs when there are plenty of them in shelters and rescues, and also why they continue to bred pet quality dogs and not top quality. Pet quality dogs should also be sold with a “limited registration” and a contract that mandates alteration, but many ignore this and as a result more “pet quality” dogs are born.

Remember that the correct maintenance of a dog doesn’t allow for much profit, the only way that backyard breeders and puppy mills (more so the latter) is to keep dogs in poor conditions and only spend the minimum on them, simply to keep them alive until they sell. Unfortunately this poor care results in a dog with poor socialization and most likely one that will have behavioral problems or fears in the future.

In the end, it could cost you a lot more to buy from a backyard breeder or puppy mill seeing how they don’t care for health screening, you may end up with expensive vet bills and because of the poor conditions they are kept in, any behavior problems will usually need to be corrected with the help of a behaviorist which of course isn’t free. As with anything in the dog world, you get what you pay for.

Red Flags

If a breeder you know does some of the things below or holds some of those views, it may be that they are profit breeders. If you are bold enough, you can question them about why they do that or why they think that way and see if they give you a logical answer, however half the time they are most likely to get irritated with you. However you as the buyer have a right to ask as many questions as you’d like.

*The breeder insists that you two meet offsite. This is usually a sign that they don’t want you to see their kennels or whelping area. Always a good idea to ask why they want to meet offsite.

*Has no papers for purebred dogs. This is usually a sign that the litter was an accident or that they simply don’t care whatsoever about the betterment of the breed as a whole. Remember that papers are required, they are not a ‘bonus’ or an ‘extra‘.

*Use incorrect terminology such (e.g. full-blooded or teacup). The incorrect terminology should signal that either the breeder doesn’t know a thing about breeding or they are using misleading terms to make you get erroneous conclusions.

*Promotes abnormalities such as extra small (teacup) or extra big. The reason to avoid breeders that advertise extra small or extra big dogs is because the majority of the time the pups have health issues and will tend not to conform to the breed standards.

*So called breeders of designer breeds. Designer breeder are simply mixed breeds, they aren’t truly breeds. These breeders are simply breeding that which there are plenty of in shelters and rescues: mutts.

*Beware if dog is registered in anything other than the AKC, UKC, CKC (Canadian kennel club), FCI, or ANKC. There are many other mimic registries that will offer papers for just about any dog, sometimes even mixed breeds or designer breeds. These registries don’t care much for conformation and are worth very little. The above mentioned registries are non-profit, hold shows dogs sports, and fun dog health research.

*Only guarantee they provide is having been checked by the vet. Having been checked by the vet is a good thing; however a cursory check doesn’t reveal genetic problems. Never allow a ‘vet check’ to be a substitute for health testing, and make sure they have proof of the test results.

*The breeder looks down on genetic testing and says his/her dogs are problem free. This type of breeder is usually in it for the money, as they don’t want to waste money on the testing. They can’t really guarantee problem free dogs if they don’t do health tests.

*Breeders that charge more for females or males, or those that are registered or have a pedigree. Why should a breeder be charging you more for different gender or for papers that are required to be there? That’s right, they shouldn’t. Ask and see if they give a good reason but for the most part they won’t. Once again, remember papers are requirements not a bonus. Also remember that the AKC doesn’t screen the dogs they register, so papers are not a proof of quality.

*Beware of breeders whose contract requires you to breed. Good breeders know that breeding is a serious commitments and one that requires money, they wouldn’t impose this responsibility on you unless you really wanted it.

*Breeders who constantly switch from one breed to another depending on which is popular. These are very likely to be in it for the money. They want to produce whatever there is a demand for; these breeders are treating breeding as if it were a profit business which it is not. A good breeder will have one or two breeds which they truly desire to improve.

*Red flag breeders with a USDA license. Those with this license are most likely mass breeders and produce too many dogs to provide care for either when they are in their care and when they’ve been placed.

*Use makeshift accommodations. Makeshift accommodations show that they most likely don’t want to spend their precious profits on the purchase of quality equipment.

*Unwilling to show entire litter or parent(s). This shows that there might be something to hide, such as an illness in other littermates or behavior problems in the parent. If the breeder doesn’t want to show you the parents and yet claims that the pups are purebred it might be that they might not be pure bred.

While I am a strong advocate for adopting instead of shopping for pets, I know that some people insist on buying. If that is the case, PLEASE do your research and remember: There are breed rescues all over that are dedicated to rescuing animals from bad homes or bad situations. You can find them all on . You can search for any breed, age, or size of dog- and only rescues and shelters are allowed to use it. 

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Information from K9 Domain

They Adopted…

Jennifer Aniston chooses to adopt

Ryan Gosling and his rescued friend George


Katherine Heigl is a HUGE animal advocate

Alyssa Milano believes in “Adopt, Don’t Shop”

Oprah loves adopted animals too
Kaley Cuoco and adopted friend 🙂

  Joss Stone only adopts


Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber adopted a rescue dog
Taylor Swift just adopted a furry friend 




Charlize Theron and her adopted dog

You can find your next

family member here.

Emma Stone and longtime boyfriend, Andrew Garfield decided to add a furry friend to their family 🙂 They went to their local shelter and picked out a sweet dog!



Josh Hutcherson from “The Hunger Games” adopted a new furry friend too. “Driver” is a special needs pitbull with only a few toes and had to undergo femur surgery.

Teacup Puppies– All the rage

I am so amazed at the number of people who are looking to buy “Teacup Puppies.” For those people searching for teacup puppies and running across my blog, PLEASE read it entirely. You need to hear the truth behind this   non-breed and not what the pet stores and breeders want you to hear!

I have said it before and I will say it again– Pets are NOT something that you order online like a purse. They are NOT another accessory that you can carry around. They are living beings that require love and care.


The Breeding Behind Teacup Puppies.  

Sure, these puppies look adorable and, rightly so- they are! But let’s look behind the curtain for a second. Most females are bred on the ninth through the fifteenth day of their heat cycles. Eggs can be fertilized for up to 72 hours after any of these breeding’s. Therefore, it is possible to have puppies conceived up to a week or so younger than the puppies first conceived in a litter. However, when the first puppies conceived are mature and ready to be born, labor starts and all the puppies will be born, no matter when they were fertilized. What all of this means is, you are buying a puppy that was born prematurely. Those of you that have had premature children (or know of any), you know that they need extra care. However, in these breeding facilities, the puppies are treated just like any other and are taken from their parents far too early.

Then, the female premature puppy is bred with the male premature puppy… The cycle just goes on and on and on.

As you can imagine, there is a laundry list of health problems that can arise from this type of breeding. Some of the issues that may be encountered are both genetic and congenital in these tiny babies and the list is a long one.

Genetic Defects 

* High Risk of open fontanels– (soft spot from the cranial bone not forming),

*Portosystemic shunts (PSS- abnormal vessel that allows blood to bypass the liver. As a result the blood is not cleansed by one of the bodies filters: the liver.),

*hypoglycemia- a syndrome that occurs primarily in toy breeds between 6 and 12 weeks of age. Puppies with a severe drop in blood sugar develop seizures or become stuporous and go into a coma. Death can follow.

*Cardiac problems-

*Distorted teeth- in all of the breeding that has occurred, these “teacup” or “toy” breeds do not have teeth that have evolved to fit inside of their mouths.

* Luxating patellas- A genetic disease that cause the kneecap to dislocate and move freely around the leg.


*Collapsing trachea- Their bones are so fragile that they break so easily!

*Hydroencephaly- In easier terms it can be referred to as “water on the brain”. A very serious disease that can cause trauma, strokes and death.


*Digestive problems- this causes diabetes and other health issues.

*Fragile Bones- Their bones are so weak that they can be broken by simply jumping off of the couch.

                   **Problems such as respiratory problems can remain or worsen throughout their lives. These puppies are so fragile that most do not live more than a few years.


I will say it again… TEACUP or TOY DOGS are not an actual breed! If you see a breeder or a pet store that offers these types of dogs RUN THE OTHER WAY! I firmly believe that all dogs deserve love, but if you choose to buy dogs from pet stores or from breeders, you are only showing them that there is a demand. These small breed dogs are very overpopulated in the shelters. Just look at California: hundreds of Chihuahuas are being put to sleep because they were bought as accessories and not forever family members!

If you want a small breed dog, look on and search for a small dog. It is that simple. You can pay a small fee as opposed to paying thousands of dollars.

Before I end this, I want to say one more thing. Many people mistakenly believe small dogs like Chihuahuas are safe for children because they won’t pose a threat. Chihuahuas in particular are a poor choice for children because they have a tendency to be snippy and protective. Small children can also unintentionally hurt a tiny dog. A teacup dog is even more vulnerable and can easily be harmed or even killed by dropping it or mishandling it, falling on it, or stepping on it. Instead, the small breed dog is ideally placed in an adult home with someone who will dote on it, such as a senior citizen or person who works from home.

Don’t fall for the teacup yorkies, toy chihuahuas, or teacup maltese… They will only cost you thousands of dollars in veterinary costs down the road.

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Animal Shelter Adoption Program


…Or ASAP, as one branch of Petland is calling it. Puppies and kittens from commercial breeders are no longer  sold at ONE  Petland branch located in East Liberty, Pennsylvania. This store, that had been regularly picketed by animal advocates, has finally agreed that the profit is not worth the torture that the parents back at the mill go through each day.

For many pet stores,  that “puppy (and kitty) in the window” is now coming from the local shelter or rescue. PetSmart and Petco are among the list of retailers that have adoption as their only option for dogs and cats. More recently, Jack’s Pets, a midwest pet store, has decided to cut ties with commercial breeders and join the club! Starting 2012 that will be starting their own Animal Shelter Adoption Program.

Far too many rescue groups these days are purely volunteer based, so the animals are often in the homes of said volunteers. This leaves them without a place to show off their own adorable adoptables! Since more and more cities are banning the sale of puppies and kitties in stores within their city limits, hosting the adoptables is quickly becoming the only option for having them in their store!

Many people wonder just how pet stores can adapt to this  business model- so here are a few of my suggestions!


The store that is selling the dogs and cats already has room for the animals. So the first step is to find out what size and breed of dog (cat) they can have in their store and the number the cages can hold. Once they have this rough number in their mind, they need to find rescues to partner with. Notice I said RESCUES. I suggest having more than one (preferably five) rescues that you are constantly getting pets from. Sadly, the adoption rates are much higher within the pet stores than at a shelter- so the turnover will be greater! Having more rescues that you partner with will ensure that you will always have animals on hand. The Pet store should seek out animal shelters and other rescue groups that are well-organized, offer ongoing support and are able to help expedite the adoption process. By “expedite”, I do not mean sell to the highest bidder. But by having a quicker adoption process helps the rate that animals are placed into their forever homes! Having adoption applications on hand also helps, because then they potential adopter can take the application over OR the store can fax the information over quickly.

Since the pets are coming fully vetted, the customer will already feel safer adopting it! They will know that the money being spent has already gone to their new family member. So, when choosing a rescue, try to pick ones that have fully vetted pets! Having the pet completely ready to go is another great incentive!

The next crucial step is to determine just who will be caring for the pets! Seeing as the pet store was already caring for the pets, this may not be an issue. However, it would sweeten the deal if the rescue had a volunteer or two helping out in the store! Either way, clear communication is VERY important in this arrangement. If this step isn’t clearly discussed, then it can make the who ordeal a very messy one. The rescue should also give the pet store an emergency contact number, in case one of the animals is sick or in distress. Keeping the animal’s best interest in mind is the most important part of this.

When picking the animals, the rescue needs to consider temperament, age, and size. The pet store will be getting a lot more traffic, so the animals need to be okay with being “on display” and being handled. The friendlier the pet, the more likely the adoption! As for age, the younger animals usually get adopted out faster, but that is something that needs to be determined by both parties. If the store still wants to focus on puppies and kitties, then, once again, CLEAR communication needs to happen. All of this needs to be thoroughly discussed before the animals actually enter the store. The time frame that the animals spend in the store should also be a topic of discussion. It isn’t fair to the animal’s well-being to be kept on display for weeks at a time-but again, that is up to the partnership to decide! Lastly, size is a factor. As I mentioned before, the store already has the cages set up! So making the pets as comfortable as possible within those cages is crucial!

“The Partnership” should also discuss matters such as supplies! Talk about who will be providing the food, kitty litter and toys. One option is deciding that one side will provide the volunteers to clean the cages and care for the animals and the other side will provide the supplies.

Most rescues have a return-policy in place already (well, the good ones do, anyway!) If, for some reason, the pet cannot be kept within the home, they usually request that the animal comes back so it can be placed into an approved home. This is another discussion topic for the partnership to discuss! Questions will come up like: Does this return policy have a refund or not?

Which brings me to my next point. The adoption fee… While I think that the money should go straight back to the rescue, the pet store may feel differently. Cooperation and compromise will be needed from both parties in order for a deal to happen. If you need to add a few dollars to the fee to cover the cost of the pet store’s help, then so be it! Always keep the best interest of the animal in mind!

Adoption Promotion is another important factor that is often overlooked. By hanging a short, easy to read paragraph about the pet right on the cage  can help adoption drastically. Whether your write the facts, or a creative story- you are more likely to get people to stop and read.  This might reveal where the pet came from, why it is available for adoption – for example, the owner got divorced or passed away – and the pet’s special features, such as if it is declawed. It is also important to include information about personality traits, so the potential adopter knows exactly what they are getting!

My last bit of advice is to write out a well-written contract, have both parties sign and give copies to each. This will ensure that each side knows exactly what is expected of them in this deal!


Most of my readers know exactly why I felt the need to write this post. This article is an example of the business model that I want Dyvigs Pet Shoppe in Ames, Iowa to follow. For me, having dogs and cats in a store is never an option. I think that this is a HUGE downfall for many decent pet stores that could honestly be great!  

 Please feel free to share this with friends and pet store owners! More and more people are starting to picket pet stores that actually sell dogs. Not only is this bad press, but it is awful the business. With the pet overpopulation being at an all-time high, all pet lovers would agree that the “adopt, don’t shop” business model is a great one!

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Children’s Books

Sometimes it takes just one wonderful book to turn a child into an avid reader. So here are a few books that I recommend to turn your child (or class) into avid readers AND animal lovers.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

— Jacqueline Kennedy

 A Home for Dakota by Jan Zita Grover. (Appropriate for ages 5 and up)

This book is about Dog No. 241 who lives in a crate in a cold barn that is stacked full of hundreds of caged dogs in a “large-scale breeding facility”, better know as “puppy mill”. 241 has never known human companionship, exercise, or decent veterinary care. Finally, rescuers arrive and take her (and the other dogs) away from this terrible home and to their new lives. Even though she is terrified, 241 finds herself in a  foster home, being bathed and groomed and loved (for the first time ever) by Emma, her new foster mom. At first, she is too frightened to respond, but eventually 241 (renamed Dakota) learns to trust Emma and begins to love her new foster home.

Dakota’s world is shaken again, when she meets Sweetie, a young girl who has a terrible past (just like Dakota).  Sweetie’s family come to look at Dakota to see if she fits in with their family. Sweetie doesn’t want hairless Dakota, but changes her mind and offers her a home. This story has amazing messages for a child and is able to explain these hard topics in terms everyone can understand. You can find the book at Barnes & Noble, the link is :

Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix (appropriate for ages 4 and up)

A  mixed-breed dog is telling  his life story. Buddy’s former owner did not feed him enough, provide clean water, and frequently left him chained outside. But things changed for the better when the animal was rescued and taken to a shelter, where he was subsequently adopted by a caring family. Attractive, realistic paintings invite readers to look into Buddy’s eyes and experience his emotions, both of neglect and of contentment in his new home.

Saving Audie by William Munoz (Appropriate for ages 6 and up)

When Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring was discovered, more than forty dogs were rescued. But their struggle was far from over. Most animal advocates believed the former fighting dogs were too damaged to save, but Audie and his kennel mates would prove them wrong when public outcry and the publicity surrounding Michael Vick’s punishment won them a chance at a happy life.

Let’s Get a Pup, Said Kate! by Bob Graham (appropriate for ages 3 and up)

After Kate’s kitty dies, her family decides they need a new pet, so they head to the animal shelter! There are of dogs of all shapes and sizes at the animal shelter, but Kate knows that she wants Dave the moment she sees him. He’s small and cute and a perfect fit for the end of Kate’s bed. But then they see Rosy, who is old and gray and broad as a table. This story is about the families struggle to only take home one dog that is in need of a home. This story will be loved by animal lovers of all ages!

How I Became a Real Dog by Frances Smith (appropriate for ages 5 and up)

This is a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming story based on how Phoebe survived several years in a puppy-mill. She was then rescued and transitioned into the home of a very loving family (with Frances), therefore learning how to become a “real dog”.  This is the true story about how Pheobe’s owner Frances shows her the fun side of life. Such an amazing book!


Wish Come True Cat by Ragnhild Scammel (appropriate for ages 4 and up)

This is the heart warming story about a girl who wishes for a kitten.   Instead of a kitten, she gets a big surprise! A big, scruffy stray cat waits for her outside of her bedroom window! Thinking it is a mistake, she tells the tom cat to go away.  Day after day, Mr. Kitty comes back to her window, trying to gain her love and affection. This is an amazing story for any child, as it teaches them that you don’t need a young kitten to be happy.

Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays by Peg Kehret (reading level 3.3)

A collection of true stories about the amazing lives of eight shelter dogs. Many of these dogs were unwanted because of their size, behavior, or medical condition. All of the dogs found owners who loved and cared for them and ultimately helped change their lives in tremendous ways. The dogs have changed the owners’ lives, too.

Kittens in the Kitchen by Ben M. Baglio (reading level 3.5)

Not everyone cares for animals as much as Mandy does. When a stray cat gives birth in Mr. Williams’s kitchen, he is absolutely furious. Can Mandy and her friend James find homes for four newborn kittens in just one week?

Spaniel Surprise by Ben M. Baglio (reading level 3.8)

Mandy and her best friend, James, know how much Ben Hardwick needs a dog. Ben watches “Give A Dog a Home” every week, and he’s desperate to adopt one of the dogs that needs a home. The trouble is, Ben’s mom is very choosy about getting the right pet. Will Mandy be able to find the Hardwicks the perfect puppy?

A Dog Like Jack by Dyanne Disalvo- Ryan (reading level 3.3)

When Mike’s family adopts Jack from the animal shelter, he becomes a member of the family. After many years of going to the park and trick-or-treating, Jack becomes old, and the family must learn to deal with his death.

Harry the Homeless Puppy by Holly Webb (reading equivalent of 4.3)

Grace can’t have a puppy of her own, but she loves walking the dogs at the local animal shelter; her favorite is Harry, a lively Jack Russell puppy. Harry loves going for walks with Grace, and soon the two are best friends.

But then Harry is rehomed and Grace is heartbroken. Grace knows she should be pleased that Harry has a home of his own, but she misses him terribly…and poor Harry doesn’t understand at all — where has his beloved Grace gone?



The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Children’s version) Recommended for ages 8 and up! 


Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story, knows he is different from other dogs. While most dogs love to chase cars, Enzo longs to race them. He learns all about racing and the world around him by watching TV and by listening to the words of his best friend and owner, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, and his daughter, Zoë, his beloved companion. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn’t simply about going fast. By applying the rules of racing to his world, Enzo takes on his family’s challenges and emerges a hero. In the end, Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with Zoë by his side.



This is one quote that I firmly believe,  “Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar”. Educating our youth about animal welfare issues is one of the greatest gifts we can give them! These stories will not only teach them, but they will stick with them forever!

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