Data on the Decline

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

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

Written by Mindi Callison

 

The Juxtaposition Between Data and Testimony

Since 2006 advocates across the country have been working hard to pass humane ordinances in their cities, counties and states that prohibit pet stores from partnering with animal mills for puppy, kitten and sometimes rabbit sales. To date, more than 375 localities and 3 states have passed similar language with even more working on the issue in 2021. 

The pet store and commercial dog breeding industry regularly attends these council meetings and state bill hearings to defend their business practices and one of their main talking points has been that humane ordinances  “haven’t shut down a single puppy mill“. Of course, their definition of puppy mill is vastly different than the definition that advocates use.

The pet industry- which includes employees, owners and lobbyists for pet stores and commercial breeders- always testifies that they believe puppy mills are unlicensed, unregulated breeders, while advocates stick to the definition that a puppy mill is any commercial breeding facility that puts the profit over the welfare of the animals. Clearly, the two definitions are at odds with each other because the pet industry relies heavily on USDA and state licensed breeders, no matter how many breeding animals are kept onsite or how many violations the facilities have. 

Definition differences aside, the pet industry isn’t looking at licenses or data when they routinely tell policy makers that none of these humane ordinances have shut down a single puppy mill. If they did, they would be telling a different story.

Before we dig in, we do want to make an editor’s note:

Over the last decade, the public has become increasingly more aware of the puppy mill industry. More families are researching before they buy, they are avoiding puppy-selling stores, they are demanding stronger breeding/licensing laws in their own states, and they are pushing for humane ordinances. Not any one thing can point to the downfall of this industry, but the holistic approach of education, advocacy and policy is a huge part in ending the puppy mill industry once and for all.

The Data on the Decline

In 2008, the USDA issued 4228 class A licenses and 1067 class B license to companion animal breeders- 5,295 licenses total. Comparatively, in 2021 the USDA issued 2035 class A licenses and 762 class B licenses- 3,697 total. This shows a 30% decrease in active USDA licensed breeders and brokers over the last 13 years. 

While there is a small fluctuation each year in federal and state licensees, the overall trend is showing that more commercial dog and cat breeders are not only going out of business, but many of the worst puppy mills have either been shut down or downsized greatly. 

A few examples are below: 

Horrible Hundred puppy mill owner Steve Kruse (Stonehenge Kennels. West Point, Iowa 42-B-0182) had over 940 adult breeding dogs in 2014 and has downsized to 670 adult breeding dogs in 2021. Kruse routinely sells puppies to pet stores and is still in operation. 

Kimberly Coleman (TLC Kennels. Clinton, Missouri. 43-A-4973) had over 212 adult breeding dogs in 2014 and was a repeat Horrible Hundred puppy mill offender. After years of violations, public pressure and the inability to partner with many stores due to violations, Coleman auctioned off all of her animals in 2019 and closed her breeding facility.  Coleman routinely sold puppies to pet stores in California among other states. California passed a statewide ordinance that went into effect in 2019. 

Gary Felts (Black Diamond Kennels. Kingsley, Iowa. 42-A-0757) had over 276 adult breeding dogs in 2014 and had downsized to 153 adult breeding dogs in 2017. After years of Federal violations and public pressure, Felts closed his breeding facility and auctioned off all of his dogs in 2017. Felts routinely sold puppies to pet stores. 

We have also seen a decline in licensed dog brokers. As fewer stores are offering puppies and kittens for sale, the need for middle men has decreased as well.  A few of the most notable examples include: 

David Steffensmeier (Jeannie’s Gems. West Point, Iowa. 42-B-0298) routinely sold puppies and kittens to pet stores all over the country. Steffensmeier cancelled his license in 2019. 

Sham rescues Rescue Pets Iowa and Hobo K9 rescue were ordered to shut down by the Iowa Attorney General after our investigation linked them to puppy broker JAKS Puppies (Jolyn Noethe. Britt, Iowa 42-B-0271). These two entities were created to broker puppies to stores in cities and states where it was prohibited; proving that these ordinances do affect the puppy mill industry. California and Chicago were the main targets, as both passed ordinance language that prevented breeders from selling through stores.

In addition to our own findings on this decline in licensed breeders, a 2019 report from the Omaha World Herald echoed our research. According to the article:

 “Nebraska Department of Agriculture records show that half of the state’s commercial dog and cat breeders have left the business over the past seven years. The decline was particularly sharp between June 30, 2018, when there were 216 state-licensed breeders, and the same date this year, when the number was down to 138.”

Two USDA and Nebraska state licensed breeders were quoted in the article stating that they “blame rising overhead costs, laws limiting pet store sales and competition from animal rescue organizations.” Clem Disterhaupt (Sandhills Kennels. Stuart, Nebraska. 47-A-0427) also stated that “Midwest breeders were hurt by a California law that banned pet stores from selling commercially bred puppies, kittens and rabbits.”

What does the research say? 

Industry leaders also echo this trend. According to a recent report from IBIS World Dog and Pet Breeders Industry:

“The Dog and Pet Breeders industry has been subject to a moderate level of revenue volatility over the past five years. Recent efforts to regulate the industry and fight against puppy mills have contributed to strong revenue declines.”

To Read the full IBIS World report click here.

Thanks to this research and graphic below from the IBIS World Report, you can see the states with the highest concentration of puppy-selling pet stores. This falls in line with the data we have been collecting on stores.

Currently in 2021, humane pet store bills are being heard on the state level in Washington, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York (among others). California’s state ban went into effect in 2019 and was cleaned up in 2020.  These states are the ones who are importing the most puppies from Midwest USDA commercial breeders (puppy mills) and are trying to stop this pipeline from happening. Because many of the largest commercial breeders and brokers are selling to these stores, they will have vastly fewer outlets to sell puppies through and will have to either change their business models, downsize their kennels or close. 

 

Throwing data and facts aside allows the pet industry to make the claim that no puppy mills are feeling the effect of these ordinances so they can plant a seed of doubt in the minds of policy makers in order to prevent humane laws from being passed. 

In order to correct that narrative, our nonprofit wanted to share our research and industry reports regarding commercial breeder licensing over the last few years. Contrary to what the pet industry is saying, puppy mills are closing down, advocacy efforts are working and the entire industry is on the decline. 

We strongly encourage advocates to keep working on humane ordinances, keep working on state bills pertaining to pet stores and continue fighting for more regulation on the commercial dog breeding industry. The trends are in our favor and the future is humane. 

 

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

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

Bailing Out Benji is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that researches and investigates the commercial dog and cat breeding industry and tracks the sale of animals as they move to pet stores and online customers.

If you would like to donate to help us continue our important work, please click on the button below. 

 

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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

Felts

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. 

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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 !!

Perfect Example!

This blog is, obviously, just my opinion… But I am going to add a link to what I FIRMLY believe is a dog breeder that falls under the puppy mill category. If I receive flack for pointing fingers, then so be it.  But again, you are reading my blog….

Here is the link

http://www.iowapup.com/

Yep… As you can see, you can buy a puppy like you would buy a pair of jeans… or a book. .. or a freaking lamp from IKEA… This is horrendous! This “Breeder” is from Altoona, Iowa… (I am trying SO VERY hard not to write his name down and just bash him…) But I do feel the need to educate as many people as I can.

I hope that you can all see why this is wrong. This “family man” doesn’t even care who his puppies go to. He accepts VISA or a Walmart Money-gram. He will ship these puppies anywhere, for the right price. I called the number, acting as though I were interested in buying a puppy. I wanted to travel the short 40 minutes to see a few, but he wouldn’t let me. He insisted that we meet somewhere halfway, because he didn’t want me to make the whole trip… RED FLAG ANYONE?! I can’t say it enough… These people are just terrible… I knew that people were money hungry, but spitting out puppies like a chicken spits out eggs? Really…. And that is how these dogs are treated… Kept in thin wire cages like a couple of hens…. Bred and then put back until they give birth…. Rinse… and Repeat…

I cannot stress this enough… ADOPT… ADOPT… ADOPT… Don’t give these breeders another way to make money. I know that the puppies in the window are so cute, trust me… But their parents are suffering so these people can make a quick buck. In what world is a tiny dog worth $600? Don’t get me wrong, I would pay as many vet bills as necessary to keep my babies alive and healthy! But why put a price like that on a dog just to simply own them? Because they are “purebred”? That makes no sense… I know many respectable breeders who truly love their dogs, and care about where their pups go. Their prices are low and they check on them from time to time… But shipping them because someone wanted to fork over money via mastercard? This man is seriously demented… And seeing how he treated me on the phone, he knows that what he is doing is wrong.

This is Minnie… She is listed on his site… Are those the eyes of a happy puppy? Or simply a puppy wondering why the human actually picked her up? You can always tell that the puppy isn’t in a healthy home when the pictures of said puppy have a weird blanket-type background… And you never see pictures of the litter together… Just one by one…

I had a man email me to tell me that I was spreading propaganda and that I was uneducated. I couldn’t help but laugh… I may not be the most knowledgable person on this topic, but I am no idiot… And this breeder is a puppy mill… through and through… Please help  me stop this! Email me… Comment on this… Share the link on facebook… DO  something…

Don’t forget to like us on facebook

–Mindi

Bailing out Benji <3