Iowa Puppy Mills by the Numbers


As an Iowan, I have always been proud to live in this state. The scenery is beautiful, and the people are amazing. I have always believed that there is no better place than here….

Since starting Bailing Out Benji in 2011, my eyes have been opened to the world of misery and torture in our own back yard. I had no idea that is Iowa is the SECOND WORST state in America when it comes to puppy mills, with over 250 puppy mills (and over 17,000 adult dogs trapped)! Since Bailing Out Benji was founded, the number of puppy mills in Iowa has dropped from over 400 to just over 250- which is fantastic news! But we have a long way to go… And we can’t do it without YOUR help! 

In this article, I have included a few “fast facts” about Iowa puppy mills, so you can share and help us educate! We firmly believe that through education we can put an end to this industry! 

Counties with the most puppy mills in Iowa 

Sioux County (with 28!)

Lee County (With 21!)

Davis County (with 14!)

 Lyon County (With 7!)

Worth County (With 7! )

Remember, these are just a few of  the worst counties when it comes to puppy mills… It does not mean that they are the only counties with puppy mills and it doesn’t mean these are the puppy mills with the most number of dogs. If you are curious about puppy mills in your area, please contact us


2015 Breeders with DIRECT USDA Violations.

 In 2015 alone, there were 24 USDA inspections done that included direct violations of the Animal Welfare Act. A direct violation is one that puts an animal in immediate distress (illness, open wounds, inadequate cage size, etc) 

Of those 24 inspections: 

-5 USDA licensed breeders had more than one inspection last year with direct violations on each inspection

-1 USDA licensed breeder had three inspections done and had a direct violation on each

-25 direct violations were handed out in total. 

Iowa USDA Licensed Breeders Make 2015 HSUS Horrible Hundred List

Each year, the Humane Society of the United States puts out their list of the worst puppy mill owners in the country, and each year Iowa makes the list! Sadly, in 2015 Iowa made quite the impact, with 11 puppy mills making the cut. 

Puppy mills in the following counties made the list: Calhoun, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Lee, Marion, Mitchell, Plymouth,Sioux, Van Buren. 

These puppy mills alone have over 903 adult dogs trapped in their facilities and they are living in some of the worst conditions in the entire country. The HSUS does a “Horrible Hundred” list each year, and Iowa is always represented. Here are the links to the 2014 and 2013. 


Iowa USDA Licensed Breeders with the Most Adult Dogs 

The top five breeders in Iowa have overwhelming amounts of dogs. Totaling over 2,000 adult breeding dogs, these facilities have numerous violations and many have made the HSUS horrible hundred list in previous years. 

Larry Albrecht- Coldwater Kennels, Butler County. Latest USDA Count- 261 adult dogs, 220 puppies. 

J. Maasen- Sioux County. Latest USDA Count- 282 adult dogs, 158 puppies. THIS BREEDER MADE THE 2015 HORRIBLE HUNDRED PUPPY MILL LIST. 

Marvin and Joanna Newswanger- Maple Tree Kennels, Chickasaw County. Latest USDA count- 331 adult dogs 

Ed VanDoorn- Squaw Creek Kennels, Mahaska CountyLatest USDA Count- 387 adult dogs, 152 puppies. 

Steve Kruse- Stonehenge Kennels, Lee County. Latest USDA count- 823 adult dogs, 584 puppiesTHIS BREEDER HAD FIVE INDIRECT VIOLATIONS ON THEIR LATEST INSPECTION. 


And Lastly, Iowa has over 10 pet stores that buy from puppy mills, but even more Iowa puppy mills shipping puppies to stores out of the state. For more information on them, please click here

Bailing Out Benji is the only organization in Iowa that actively protests these pet stores and we would LOVE your help! Ames, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are three cities that we host protests in each weekend. If you know of a pet store in your area that sells puppies, please contact us! We would love to help you educate the citizens in your town! Remember, Pet store puppies ARE puppy mill puppies: don’t buy the lies! 

The dogs in the puppy mills need YOUR help today. Help us educate your family, friends and coworkers by sharing this article! With each new person learning about puppy mills, we are one step closer to putting an end to the industry altogether! 

For more ways to help, please contact us! 

— Mindi

** All Info is Current as of October 2015 and will be updated regularly**

And don’t forget to like us on facebook !!

Horse Diving- a blast from the past?

**UPDATE!!! Steel Pier has since backed out of their proposed idea… The horses are safe, for now! Thank every one of you that called and signed the petition.  **

For my HORSE-loving friends…. Atlantic City wants to bring back “high-diving horse” 

acts to its Steel Pier. These acts haven’t been around since the 1970s — and for good reason, as they involve horses and riders leaping or falling from a 40 foot tower into a swimming pool.

You read that correctly, DIVE. The owners of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City say they are bringing back this attraction that was once stopped due to the concerns for the animals. The new horse dive will consist of a rider jumping the horse off a platform into a 12 foot pool. Anthony Catanoso, the Steel Pier president, sees no risk of harm to the animals and feels it’s a historic and popular attraction.

 It may come as a surprise that diving horses aren’t necessarily illegal in the United States. Lack of interest in “side shows” and enforcement of other laws by animal protection agencies are more the reason why there’s been a kibosh on the “Diving Horse” scene. Perhaps they just haven’t been popular enough to be a part of many shows or board walks these days. 
Horse diving was an attraction here from the 1920s to the 1970s when it was stopped. The shows received very strong criticisms of animal rights abuses, which contributed to the decline of its popularity after World War 2. The horses were sometimes forced to dive  four times a day, seven days a week, and were slaughtered once their career was over. There are allegations of using prods, electrical jolts, and trap doors to get unwilling horses to dive.
 Now the plan is to build an amphitheater and charge $10 a person to see a horse and rider dive. But many local residents are not happy with the return of the dive. The Atlantic City SPCA President, Nancy Beall, has said the idea is disgusting and it’s cruel to put the animals though this event. Hopefully through efforts of the SPCA, word of this will spread and Mr. Catanoso will reconsider this cruel tradition.

But in a strange nod to nostalgia (the popular TV series “Boardwalk Empire” takes place on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the 1920s, when high-diving horses first became popular), Atlantic City wants to bring this antiquated act back into the present day. And the cruel show could be back as soon as Memorial Day weekend…

Atlantic City also tried to bring back high-diving horses in 1993 — but a huge backlash caused those plans to be abandoned. Public outcry can do the same now, especially since construction on a horse-diving tower hasn’t begun yet. With so many other attractions proposed (beer gardens, games and rides), public pressure will swiftly divert these funds into a tourist attraction that will be more fun, lucrative and animal cruelty-free.

If you are against this, please hop on over to this site, and sign a petition telling Atlantic City that we do not want this to happen!

If you have a little more time, PLEASE contact them via these means: 

Toll Free:

(866) 386-6659


(609) 345-4893


(609) 345-7492


customerservice at

If you liked this article, please “like” our facebook page. 

Undo Those Chains

The days of dogs being chained up in our backyards are over… FOREVER!

What is considered “animal abuse” when chaining a dog?

Owners that chain their dog on a very heavy and short chain to an object with no shelter, no fresh water and in all types of weather aliments for any amount of time are committing animal abuse.  It breaks my heart when I see pictures of dogs confined and forced to be in such a horrible predicament.  When an owner confines their dog to the back yard and even though they are provided with a dog house, which is where they live out their lives is unquestionably animal abuse.  Why even bother having a dog if that is how you want to interact (lack of) with your dog?

When is tethering a dog allowed?

  • A pet on a restraint to get fresh air or a potty break is acceptable, if done for a very short period such as less than 2 hours and supervised.
  • Proper fitted collars attached are important to use when tethering your dog… ABSOLUTELY no choke, prong or martingale collars should be used. It enhances the dog’s chances of choking.
  • Making sure your dog has a long chain and a safe/clean area to move around in is a must. Ensuring the happiness of you pet is your responsibility as the owner.
  • Provide adequate shelter even when it is for short periods that your dog is outside for, especially in extreme heat or cold. Dogs need shade and a lot of water in the summer- they get dehydrated very easily! And in the winter, dogs need shelter from the cold wind and the snow. It is best to be considerate of the weather outside. Don’t put your pet out in severe weather such as; snow storms, thunderstorms, tornado’s or hurricanes. It should be common sense, but far too often are dogs injured/killed because of bad weather.

*Walking your dog daily is still a must, even if they spend time outside! It is important to the dog’s psychological well-being to see new areas and smell new things.*

What is being done to prevent this problem?

Many communities have banned any type of unattended tethering! It is important to know the laws of your town and to ALWAYS speak up when you see these crimes being committed. In some states, there are laws that just “regulate” tethering. Putting a time limit and other restraints on the situations.

To find the laws about tethering in your community, please click on this link!

Some astonishing facts about a chained dog:

  • A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months or even years suffers immense psychological damage. They are often very aggressive and thus more likely to be put to sleep. Since dogs are pack animals, they are the happiest when they are with a group (or your family.) By keeping them alone outside, you are robbing them of their most basic needs to survive and be happy. Dogs are also den animals. So they crave a safe, quiet place to sleep– just another reason why dogs should be inside!
  • Necks of chained dogs become raw and often infected, the result of improperly fitted collars and constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. A lot of dogs have been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain.
  • Children are the most common victims of chained animal aggression. The owner is denying the dog of their “fight-or-flight” response, so it always has to fight. Anything that in “new” and in their territory, the dogs automatically sees as a threat.
  • Chained dogs have accidentally hung or choked themselves to death on their chain. Not to mention, they get tangled and can’t reach their food/water.

Problems Dogs may experience when forced to be chained for long periods

  • Overturned water dish
  • Limited or zero supply of shelter
  • Flea and insect infestation
  • Forced to step or sleep in their own feces/urine.
  • Little or no grass due to the grass being beaten down by the dog’s pacing
  • Behavioral issues such as; depression, aggression, separation anxiety, neurotic behavior such as turning in circles and extreme pacing.

My Final Thoughts

Chaining dogs for a long period of time is abuse. If you are going to have a dog, then have a dog. Let it be inside and be a part of your family like it is supposed to. Not every “chained dog” will become aggressive, but the problems will go deeper than anyone will ever see. PLEASE speak up for these neglected animals. If you see something like this going on, contact your local animal rescue, humane society, animal control, or police. And be persistent!

“Our lives end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  –Nelson Mandela

These statistics were found on the HSUS website

Juveniles Torturing Pets

How it Should be

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar”.

The meaning behind this quote goes deeper than many realize. It is so important in today’s society to teach our children WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG not to abuse animals. This seems like such a silly concept, but it is the truth.  There is a proven link between children and young adults that abuse and torture animals and adults that are abusive (or kill). I am not saying that in every case the child will turn into Michael Myers, but corrections to need to be made. I decided to write this blog a month or so ago, when I saw my neighbor kid throwing rocks at my dog when he was chained in my backyard for literally five minutes! . When we confronted the kid, he just ran away… WHERE WERE HIS PARENTS? My poor dog was just looking at him with a sad look on his face like, “why are you hurting me?” It is terrible…

I am going to talk about a few animal abuse cases from juveniles, and I am very sorry if it offends anyone. Through all of my research, I haven’t been able to find a database that focuses on children and teenagers abusing animals. These stories are hard to read, but they need to be told. By educating everyone that reads this, my hope is that one day parents will be responsible enough to stop these crimes before that happen. You do not have to read any further, if you don’t want to. As I have said, I do not mean to “scare” anyone into helping. I just think that these stories need to be out in the open so everyone can see what is really going on.

*Feel free to comment on this a let me know of any other cases, I will gladly add them to this post! Thank you*

October 2007- Three teens were taken into custody because they tortured a dog relentlessly by throwing him repeatedly from a two story window, breaking both of its legs. As if that wasn’t enough, the 12 year old, 13 year old and 15 year old hung him by his neck and struck him over and over with sticks. When he STILL wasn’t dead, they decided to cut off his head. Now this wasn’t some stray dog, this was Tobey a small dog owned by their 16 year old neighbor. The teens kidnapped him from the yard and made him suffer that awful, awful fate.

November 2007- Two teenagers were charged in the deaths of over 30 fish after they dumped liquid and powder dishwashing detergent into the neighbors Koi pond.

December 2007- Two teenagers admitted to putting their neighbor’s cat into the microwave after breaking in and stealing the cat from its own home. THEY ONLY RECEIVED 100 hours of community service :/

October 2008- A 13 year old child was taken into custody after TORTURING an 8 year old yellow lab mix. The young boy shot the dog in the leg with a sharp hunting arrow, shot him in the face with buckshot, and then dragged him around. ”Yellow” lived thanks to rescue groups and donations made to his cause.  He is a happy therapy dog now.

June 2009- An 18 year old was charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty after authorities found dozens of deceased cats that were beaten, skinned, and sliced open.

May 2010- Two teenagers broke into their neighbor’s house and broke their dachshunds neck. They were apparently robbing the place, and they dog wouldn’t stop barking.

January 2011- Two teens were arrested after videos on their phones surfaced of the teenagers savagely beating four kittens to death.

June 2011- In the span of TWO DAYS five terrible acts of cruelty occurred in the same town.  Firstly, a six year old boy decided to glue a kittens mouth shut and then drown him.  Next, a group of kids between 8 and 11 beat a dog to death and then buried him in the backyard. And lastly, a 16 year old boy set a dachshund on fire for the fun of it. The dog lived, but had severe burns and will never be the same. Someone from the city shelter went on record saying “Part of me wants to believe that this is just kids not understanding the consequences of what they’re doing, but I do think it’s a failure on the part of the parents…” (the other two cases were from adults)

June 2011- An 18 year old decided to slit his grandparent’s Chihuahua’s throat. He is currently out on bail.

June 2011- Two teens were charged with tying dogs up and burying them alive.

June 2011- Three teens are charged with shooting OVER 100 CATS! They drove around in a truck with a shotgun and killed any animal they saw walking around. That includes 100 cats, a few dogs and some deer. Each teen (16, 16, and 17 yrs old) are being held on $25,000 bail.

June 2011- A pregnant mother allowed her two sons (8 years old and 5) to torture two baby kittens. A witness stepped in and saved one of them after noticing the children throw the kitten and beat him with a metal baseball bat. Upon surveying the area, the witness noticed the second kitten tossed into a trash can, its head soaked from being drowned and its throat was slit open. She was taken into custody.

July 2011- A man jumped into a canal to save a 3 year old Shih Tzu from drowning. Three teens had tied her back legs to bricks and shoved her into a plastic sack. The dog ended up living, but is currently on pain medication, while awaiting her surgery.

Sept/Oct 2011- Warren County, Iowa…  Three teens admitted to taking out their rifle and shooting what they “thought” was a feral cat. This cat turned out to belong to the family that lived next door and these boys had been in the house over 100 times. Upon realizing it was the neighbors cat, they freaked and dumped it on a dirt road (while it was still alive and fightingfor its life). How did they get caught? They were bragging the next day at school and the cat belonged to a classmate. Needless to say charges were filed. If there can be any happy ending to this, I would say it is that the cat, Chester, found his way home a week later. Meowing at the back door and still suffering from the 3 gunshot wounds , the family rushed the cat to the vet and he should make it! The charges are still pending, but that poor kitty will never be the same

This isn’t the best written blog that I have done, and I apologize. I am usually very passionate about what I am writing. But this one is different… It hits way too close to home. Please, Parents, educate your children. Don’t let them harm defenseless animals.

For this, and more, I thank you

Every day I hear the stories… We all hear them.  The stories about beaten or starved animals that somehow survive terrible owners. The stories about perfect strangers falling into the equation, and making their lives better — whether these strangers take the abused animal straight out of the horrific home, or if they give them a second chance by adopting from a shelter.

Everyday I sign on to my facebook page and I see so many posts from all of you, trying to spread the word about animals that need adopting or animals that need transporting.

Every day I see everyone caring so much. I know that I am not the only one that wants to cry when there is news of an animal that needed put down because we couldn’t find it a home.

Everyday I am reminded more and more that I am not alone in this fight. There a millions of us that just want the world to be a better place for our pets. For this, and more, I thank you.

Thank you all so  much for supporting “Bailing out Benji”. You are helping to save the lives of those that need us.

Thank you even more, for giving a voice to those that have none. Because if we don’t speak up for them, no one will.

But mainly, thank you all for reminding me everyday how important this all really is.


You may say I’m a dreamer


(pictured are Zannah and Gabby)

There are so many people in Iowa that simply want the best for our pets! We want harsher punishments for when they are abused, we want mills to stop making puppies daily, and we want the dogs in the shelters to get adopted so they can know what a loving family is! I don’t think that these “wants” are out of the question. I feel like every living being deserves to be fed, to be healthy, and to be loved.

“I don’t believe in killing whatever the reason!” John Lennon

That is why  I started “Bailing out Benji”. This Blog is just trying to gain awareness for the vastly growing problem in Iowa. That problem is animal abuse, pet overpopulation and puppy mills. In the first two months we have reached over 2000 people and gained their support! Who knows what will happen in the future!  All I know is that we are working so hard to make this a better place for our pets. If you are reading this, and you have any questions, please either comment on this blog or email me at I will reply to you very promptly! It is so very important that we education as thoroughly as possible! Please help us to reach the rest of Iowa. Together we can educate the state on animal abuse!

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” John Lennon

If you want to help… Please let me know! I have many small projects that I am working on, and I would love to get more help with them! For example, I am starting a letter writing campaign to a local pet store that sells puppies (that come from a known puppy mill)! That is such an easy way to help! Email me or comment for more information on the subject!

Just remember, we are the voice for the voiceless… Our lives begin to end the day that we become silent about things that matter.

Mindi <3