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 !!

What is a puppy mill?

Bailing Out Benji is a national, grassroots nonprofit organization that is devoted to providing the most current and accurate data regarding the puppy mill industry.  If you want to get involved in our fight to expose the puppy mill industry, don’t forget to like us on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter! You can also sign up to become one of our volunteers here

jacksonWhat is a “puppy mill”?

Our definition of the term “puppy mill” is a breeding facility in which the profit is more important than the welfare of the dogs. Think of it as a factory farm for puppies. The parents are bred every heat cycle until their bodies give out. They are forced to live in cramped cages their entire lives, their paws never touching the ground. These parent dogs are not always fed healthy food or clean water and they are very rarely (if ever) seen by a vet for illness or injury. kruse

A puppy mill can be obvious, or it can be well hidden.

What are the worst states when it comes to puppy mills?

The Midwest has the highest concentration of puppy mills, although there are other mills across the country. The Midwest is commonly referred to as “The Puppy Mill Belt”. Missouri and Iowa are the highest offenders when it comes to the sheer number of mills, but Ohio and Pennsylvania are horrible when it comes to unlicensed mills and violations. Puppy mills operations are easily hidden among agriculture buildings. The Amish and Menonite communities are also big into dog breeding. Lancaster County is one of the worst counties in the entire nation. However, they make up a small percentage of the total. 

If puppy mills are so bad, why do they exist? 

One of the most common questions we receive is, “Why are puppy mills legal”? The answer, plain and simple, is that the USDA and state agencies allow them to exist. Not every USDA licensed dog breeder runs a horrible operation. But they are all required to follow the same very lax laws the USDA set forth in the Animal Welfare Act. According to the AWA: 

-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
-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.

– The inspections are “risk based”. Meaning if there are no violations, the breeder might not see an inspector for a few years. 

The AWA does NOT cover emotional well-being. 

And there are a 115 inspectors to inspect for every single USDA facility… in the entire United States. That includes breeding facilities, factory farms, zoos, circuses, transport vehicles, testing facilities, labs and more…. 115 people to cover over 12,000 facilities.  Do you think that is enough?
For more information on the AWA, click here. 

Example of how the AWA figures up cage size.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold? 

Thousands of puppies are sold from puppy mills each year– and the general public is completely unaware of where they just got their new puppy. The breeder will “meet you half way”, so you don’t have to make the full trip, the breeder will ship the puppy on an airplane to you, or buyer doesn’t even know the purchaser because the transaction was made through a pet store. The BEST way to avoid purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill, is to adopt. But that isn’t always something the public is willing to do. So the next best way to make sure you are not buying from a puppy mill is to check out the parents, see the facility (all of it) and resist temptation from saving a puppy from a place that you deem non-reputable. You are only creating a hole for the breeder to fill with more puppies. 

Pet Store: According to the ASPCA: Breeders who sell puppies to pet stores must hold a USDA dealer license, and many states also require breeders to obtain a license to have a dog-breeding kennel. So the statistic is that 99% of puppies in pet stores are from puppy mills. They come from breeders that have enough dogs to constantly keep the cages full of puppies. And the stores will sell puppies like they would a pair of jeans, to anyone with a credit card. They don’t care where that puppy is going or how it will end up. The fact of the matter is, no reputable breeder would sell through a third party. They would want to know exactly where the puppy is going, and more often than not, they require an application and the puppies are required to come back to them if the family can not care for them any longer. 

Do you have a pet store near you? Click here to see the the paper trail between your local pet store and the puppy mills they buy from. Bailing Out Benji and our volunteers have been doing the research so we can show you exactly where those puppies came from. 

Internet: Fancy websites and Craigslist are a very easy way to sell a lot of puppies and keep people off of the property at the same time. The ASPCA and the HSUS both agree that you should never ever buy a puppy from the internet (alone). You MUST see the property where the puppies are born and raised. Anyone can design a fancy website, but you should look for these red flags. 

– If the breeder has several breeds of dogs available. 

– If they ship puppies to you

– If they offer to meet offsite. 

– If they are selling their puppies on CraigsList

– If they won’t allow you to see their property

Newspapers: Classified Ads are way that puppy mills get rid of their puppies. You would have no way of knowing what kind of breeding facility they run, because they ad is only a few sentences long. 

Dog Auctions: Dog Auctions are horrible events in which breeding dogs and puppies are sold to the highest bidder. The dogs are very rarely in good condition. The breeders selling the dogs may be going out of business, they could be getting rid of a certain breed, or they could be getting rid of the dogs that are too old. For an inside look on an auction, click here

Don’t the puppies deserve homes too? What happens to them if they don’t sell? 

20140208_165545This is another one of the most common questions that we are asked. The puppies always sell, because there is always someone that doesn’t know about the pet store/puppy mill connection. What will happen, and what has been happening, is that the public is becoming slowly more aware. This means that the puppies are staying longer in the stores, showing that there isn’t a high demand for them. When the puppies sit longer, the store puts them on sale and keeps dropping the price until they are sold. If they aren’t selling quickly, the store will order less for next month and *hopefully* the breeder will see that the demand is dropping and there isn’t a need for as many dogs on their property. But this all starts with YOU. YOU shouldn’t buy that puppy. 

Are there puppy mills near me? 

At Bailing Out Benji, we work tirelessly to educate about the horrors of puppy mills, without sharing the graphic photos. One way we have been successful in educating about and exposing these puppy mills is by showing YOU, the consumer, what is really in your back yard. Through the USDA website and, when easily accessible, state department of Agriculture websites, we have pinpointed and color-coded the puppy mills that are lurking in the United States. To view our puppy mill maps, click here.  You can also view our new interactive website here

To view all of our completed puppy mill maps, click on our link above

How can I help?

There are many ways you can help the dogs trapped in puppy mills. They vary from being active, to just being an advocate. 

1. If you SEE something, SAY something. If you were someone that unknowingly stumbled upon a bad breeding facility to purchase a puppy, you need to report it! You can either report it to the USDA, your state agency, your local rescue or shelter, or you can contact us and we can point you in the right direction! 

2. Be an educator. One of the best ways you can help is by educating your friends, family and coworkers. By sharing this article and making a status about where you shouldn’t buy a dog could deter someone you know! Our organization firmly believes that educating the general public will be the end to puppy mills. Join our growing list of teams and help us fight the industry through education and advocacy! 

3. Be an advocate. Look in your area for pet stores that sell puppies and educate about your local problem. Hang up flyers (we can help!) or even start a local protest (we can help with that too!) Getting the word out locally, will break the lies of the pet store and will bring more awareness about puppy mills to your community. 

4. Contact your legislators. By letting your legislators know what you care about, it tells them how to vote. You can send a quick email to your legislator and just ask them where they stand on common sense animal issues, especially puppy mills. You may be shocked to find out that not everyone is an advocate for the animals. 

5. Don’t give pet stores that sell puppies your money. By boycotting a pet store that sells puppies, you are showing them that you can’t support their business. You can even tell the owner why you are choosing not to shop at their store anymore. To view a list of pet stores across the country that are selling puppy mill dogs, click here

6. Look for a reputable breeder in your area. If you are set on buying a puppy and you haven’t checked your local rescues or shelters, then ask your local canine club about reputable breeders. Just remember to always check out their facilities! 

7. USE SOCIAL MEDIA….. Spread the Word. Use the hashtag #ShowMeTheMommy on social media to stress the importance of asking to see the parent dogs before purchasing a puppy. You can also use #EndPuppyMills and #BailingOutBenji ! 

8. Stay updated. Like our facebook page , twitter and instagram. Stay updated on how you can help in your area. Don’t forget to SHARE!  


We are a small nonprofit organization that makes big changes with very few resources. Our research is used by the leading animal welfare organizations across the country, because what we do is so unique and important.  To make a one time donation or to sign up to be a sustaining supporter to allow us to continue our various programs that expose the puppy mill industry, click the donate button below.

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

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


Iowa’s First Puppy Mill Awareness Billboard

What weighs 12 tons, is seen by tens of thousands of people a day, and is carrying Iowa’s first Puppy Mill billboard? 

ames 10-17-13 046

That’s right! The Cyride! All summer long the volunteers at Bailing Out Benji have been raising money to purchase Iowa’s first Puppy Mill Awareness Billboard and PSA!

This sign will be seen by the 33,000 students enrolled at Iowa State University, as well as the more than 30,000 Ames, Iowa residents. With 35% of the ISU students coming from other states, not to mention all of the international students who will be reading this message– this has the ability to be seen around the world. We are hoping that this ad will catch some wandering eyes and will educate them about where NOT to get their puppies. 

Our ad has hit the city of Ames today, October 18, 2013 and will run for an entire year on two different buses. A close up of the ad shows our message (as you can see below). As you know, one of our passions at Bailing Out Benji is to educate the consumer about the pet store, puppy mill connection. We believe that if there is no longer a demand for puppies, then the supply will dwindle down. This ad is up and running just in time for the busiest period of the year for puppy mill and store owners…. The holidays. It is no secret that more puppies are purchased as gifts between November and the end of December. Can you help us end that? Spread the word that pet store puppies are puppy mill puppies. 


Wondering who that cute yorkie is in the PSA? Her name is Scarlett Sunshine and she survived 5 years in a puppy mill. She and her pack have dedicated their lives to educating about puppy mills and we couldn’t think of a better way to honor her memory. I want to thank everyone that helped with this!

Please, head over to our facebook page and let us know your thoughts!! Would you like to see one of these ads in your neck of the woods? 

Vote with your Money– Help Stop Puppy Mills TODAY!

According to the Animal Rescue Corps, there are an estimated 15,000 puppy mills in the U.S. alone. I wanted to take a second and share with you one of the most important ways to combat puppy mills here in the United States and it is pretty simple….


A visual of (most of) the pet stores in the US that choose to sell puppies

Ask that your family, friends and coworkers refrain from giving them business as well. I firmly believe that you vote with your money, and it is important to give support to those businesses that are doing it the right way!  When we succeed in educating the consumer about the pet store/puppy mill connection, then the demand for these puppies will decrease. When the demand decreases, there won’t be a need to have as many breeding dogs. 

To make this easy for you, I am providing a few links and suggestions on how to lend your support to the cause….

**Here is a list of all of the pet stores in the United States that have signed the HSUS Pet Store friendly pledge, and they have vowed to never sell puppies… TWO important things I want you to take away from this information…

1. If you know of a pet store that doesn’t sell puppies and isn’t listed, share the pledge with them and encourage them to add their name to the list!

2. If you know of pet stores that DO sell puppies, print off a copy of the pledge and either mail it to them or drop by… Encourage them to “adopt” a more humane business model by having adoptable animals in their store instead of retail puppies.

To see which stores have signed the pledge, click here

** Here is a link that shows you all of the pet stores that DO sell puppies. Again, there are two important things I want you to do with this information…

1. If you know of a pet store that DOES sell puppies and they aren’t on the list, help the ASPCA by adding them to the database. It is important to show the public which pet stores we shouldn’t support.

2. Do not give these pet stores your money in any way, shape or form. To purchase even treats, toys or food there is to show them that you are okay with the fact that they are selling puppies. And be sure to inform  your local pet store that they could get your business- they just have to stop selling puppies! 

To view the map of stores in your area, click here

** Here is a link of all of the pet store protests that are going on across the United States. This link is updated constantly and if you know of any other protests, reach out to me and I will add them to this database. If you see a protest in your area, stop by and show your support! Even if you can’t stop and stay the whole time, drive by and honk or wave! Give them the positive encouragement they deserve.

To view the list of ongoing protests, click here

** Finally, for YOU, the consumer… Add your name to the pledge to stop puppy mills. Promise to never buy choosing to adopt your next pet from a shelter or rescue, or by only purchasing a dog from a responsible breeder who will show you where your puppy was born and raised. To take the pledge, click here

Most importantly, don’t forget to join us at Bailing Out Benji! 

Stay updated on the most recent news about puppy mills and other important animal issues! 

Pet Store Protests across the United States

Something I value above almost everything else is education… One amazing way to educate others about the plight of the dogs trapped in puppy mills is to join in on one of the many pet store protests going on in the country. These protests are peaceful, with the intent on educating the citizens in the community about the pet store/puppy mill connection. PLEASE consider joining in on a protest in your area and if you know of any more or want more info about the protests, private message me through Bailing Out Benji on facebook and I will update my list!


Want to know more about why we protest? Click here

Want to know more about what a puppy mill is? Click here



Protests held in Webster City, Iowa
Critter Nation

Arizona:  Tempe. These protests go on every weekend! For more information, click here

CONNECTICUT:  Branford- All Pets Club… 467 East Main Street. Protests are held on Saturdays from 11:30- 1pm. To stay updated, click here

CALIFORNIA: Riverside– Barkworks… 1299 Galleria at Tyler. Protests are held on Sundays from 12-2. 

CALIFORNIA: Oceanside– Oceanside Puppy… 1906 Oceanside blvd 92054. Protests are held every Saturday from 1-3 pm! 

COLORADO:  Colorado Springs- Chapel Hills Mall.1710 Briargate Blvd. These protests occur monthly! To stay updated, click here

COLORADO:  Fort Collins- Pet City. To stay updated on these protests, click here

COLORADO:  Littleton- Perfect Pets. 6840 S University Blvd. These protests occur every weekend! To stay updated, click here.

Florida:  Sarasota- Petland. These protests occur monthly! To stay updated, click here 

IOWA:  Ames- Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe Protests 412 Burnett Ave. These protests occur every Saturday and Sunday.   To stay updated, click here

IOWA:  Cedar Rapids- Pet’s Playhouse.  151 Jacolyn Dr NW. . These protests occur every Saturday and Sunday!   To stay updated, click here

IOWA:  Iowa City- Petland.  1851 Lower Muscatine Rd. These protests occur every Saturday from 10a-12p  To stay updated, click here

Protest in Illinois
Puppy Parlor
Protest at Citipups
Hosted By Puppy Mill Free NYC

ILLINOIS: Arlington Heights- Happiness is Pets. 15 W Golf Rd,. These protests occur weekly. To stay updated click here. 



MAINE:  Little Paws Protest 456 Payne RD. Saturdays at 12 EST. To stay updated, click here

MICHIGAN: Novi– Petland protest, Twelve Oaks Mall- 27500 Novi Road, Novi, Michigan. Saturdays from 12:00- 1:30. To stay updated, click here

MINNESOTA: St Paul– Petland,2123 Old Hudson Rd . To stay updated, click here

MISSOURI: St. Louis– Petland Protest 6131 Ronald Reagan Dr. Lake St. Louis. Every Saturday from 11-12:30 

NEW YORK: New York City–  Citipups Protest. Wednesday at 6pm,  Thursdays from 5:30 PM until 8:30 PM and Saturdays at 3pm  … 147 Eight Avenue, New York City. To stay updated, click here.

NEW YORK: White plains— New York Breeders Pet store, 45 TARRYTOWN ROAD…. Protests are Saturdays from 11a-2p. For more information, click here

NEW YORK: Sayville— Little Wonder’s Puppy Emporium, 15 Main St, Sayville, NY. There are protests each weekend! To stay updated, click here

Ohio: Toledo— The Family Puppy Store, every Saturday 11-1 on the corner of Monroe and Talmadge, Toledo. For more information click here. 

Ohio: Youngtown—7401 Market Street, these protests occur monthly . For more information click here. 

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh— Petland Robinson, Robinson Town Centre
Park Manor Blvd, these occur monthly!   . For more information click here.


For more information about what kinds of puppy mills sell to pet stores, click here 


Protests hosted by Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills

Through the Eyes of a Child

I will admit, the muse that sparked this latest article was none other than my subscription to Netflix. I happened to be browsing my watch instantly options and was inundated with options for children’s movies, although it isn’t my particular genre of choice. As I am scrolling through all of these movies, I kept thinking to myself, “too sad” and “that one always makes me cry”.

What was I looking at, you ask?

The collection of Disney movies that are new to Netflix. Here I am, an adult, and I can’t bring myself to watch silly little kids movies because they are so sad and that got me thinking…. As we are watching these movies at a young age, do they have an impact on our choices as an adult? You always hear that violent games/movies are shaping our children, but is the opposite true? Looking back on some of my favorite childhood movies, I am horrified that more people haven’t realized how true some of these messages really are. 

Paul McCartney, an avid animal welfare advocate and fellow vegan explains his loves of Disney films, “You could lose yourself in it, it’s a magical world, really. I just always loved that stuff as a kid.” McCartney also credits Disney films “Bambi” and “Lady and the Tramp” for teaching people the importance of animal welfare. McCartney says that it” taught us against cruelty to animals and made us sympathize so much with animals”. These movies “gave us a compassion” for animals. And that is completely true.

ImageBelow, you will find a list of movies that I have picked out because of the strong animal welfare theme that I got from them. By no means is it a complete list, and you don’t have to agree with every movie on there- but I want you to read through the list carefully. Look at the movies and think about you watching them and your kids/grand kids/nieces/nephews watching them. Ask yourself… Do movies help shape who we are as adults? 


FoxSome examples of Disney Movies that have a strong animal welfare theme:

  • “Bambi”– Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter (and is later shot himself during a man-made fire) 
  • “Dumbo”–Dumbo’s mother is put into chains in the circus
  • “101 Dalmations”– Cruella De Vil wants to kill the puppies  and turn them into fur coats
  • “Fox and the Hound”– Fox hunting and trapping
  • “The Shaggy Dog”– The 2006 version is all about animal testing in the pharmaceutical world. 
  • “The Aristocats”– Touches on the stray animal problem, as well as overpopulation. 
  • “Finding Nemo”– Fish from the Ocean are put into a tiny aquarium and dream about escape.
  • “AirBud” “Snow Buddies”– the puppies from these movies now show up in commercials that talk about adoption. 
  • “Homeward Bound”– Focuses highly on the feelings of animals and the dangers of them becoming lost

NemoHere are a few other examples of movies that aren’t necessarily “Disney” or about animals:

  • “Free Willy”– Strong message about wild animals belonging in the wild. 
  • “Wall-E”– Has a clear message about pollution and our everyday choices. 
  • “Paulie”– A bird escapes from an animal testing lab and finds a best friend in a human. 
  • “Babe”– Starts off with his mother being slaughtered. 
  • “The Lorax”– Speaking for the trees, this movie is about our environmental impact.
  • “Chicken Run”– Focuses on a band of chickens that are intent on escaping their death on the farm.
  • “Rio”– the last blue macaw plucked from his life in the wild. 
  • “Madagascar”– Animals in zoos wanting to escape back to the wild. 
  • “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest”– The magical inhabitants of a rainforest called FernGully fight to save their home that is threatened by logging and a polluting force of destruction

ImageIn these movies, we are giving a voice to the animals and showing our children that they do have feelings. We are teaching our children from a very young age that the choices we make can directly affect the lives of others. Of course, many who are opposed to the “AR” movement would find this idea to be brainwashing. Do you think the movies are teaching our children to feel compassion for animals? Do you think that they have any impact on our future?  I  feel that these are the movies that spark instant discussions with children. Watching alone won’t necessarily teach them, but the discussions that follow will. Thanks, in large part, to my Aunt Becky, who not only owned all of these movies but watched them with me constantly, I can look back and understand why I am the person that I am today. 


What are your thoughts? Do these movies in anyway impact our choices as an adult? Or was it simply good writing on the part of the filmmakers? 

If this article sparked your interest about teaching animal welfare to children, please be sure to click on this link and get a list of books that will help teach your child in an age appropriate manner.


And don’t forget to “like” Bailing Out Benji on Facebook!  

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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Help your local rescues/shelters!

Help us celebrate

National Animal Shelter (Rescue) Appreciation Week

November 3-9, 2013

There are so many ways you can volunteer your time and money to homeless pets!

In an economy where the extra cash isn’t flowing as deep as it used to, the businesses that rely on donations are suffering. Many people are asking what can they do to help their local animal shelter/rescue…  I am compiling a short list of things that you can do to help, that don’t necessarily involve money!  (Any words that are blue/underlined are links to other relevant posts! Feel free to click around)

Volunteer your TIME:

–Many shelters partner with stores such as PETCO and PetSmart to set up temporary adoption locations on certain days of the week.  They are always looking for volunteers to sit with the animals and help them find forever homes!

–Volunteer at the local shelter itself! Even if you don’t have time to volunteer on a weekly basis, let the shelter know that you’re available occasionally and add your name to their email list. The animals there are always glad to have new faces come in! Walk the dogs, play with them, give your time to the kitties… Do something!

— If you have children that are looking for some volunteer time, contact your local shelter! It is great for the pets and for the children!

— Consider setting up a relationship with your local gas stations. Ask them if you can take any old newspapers off of their hands! This is a great way to get a lot of newspapers that rescues and shelters are in constant need of! 

— Ask your local grocery stores what their do with their dog and cat food that is close to the expiration date. Many places will allow for the food to be donated to rescues and shelters! Offer to be the transporter of the food to make the process easier! 

Volunteer your TALENTS!:

— Are you a web designer? Offer to  help with their website, facebook page, or blog!

— Are you a photographer?  You don’t have to be a professional! Simply offer to take photos of adoptable pets and edit those photos their website! Most shelters and rescues these days use as a great way to reach out and get their animals the publicity they deserve! Best of all, your pictures can later be used in a portfolio!

*** I cannot stress the importance of having a facebook page and having your animals listed on petfinder! Social networking is what is getting these animals adopted. If your local rescue or shelter isn’t utilizing these two important tools, offer to help your services! Get those animals photographed and get them out there! 

— Enjoy writing?  Offer to write articles for your shelter’s website or newsletter. Or you can write clever captions to describe adoptable pets for newspaper ads. The added interest helps to get the animals adopted out faster!

— Enjoy sewing? Shelters are ALWAYS looking for blankets (new or old) to put in the kennels with the animals. It is a quick an easy project. To make things more fun, you can have a blanket tying party! Invite your friends over to tie blankets for the local shelter! (or just go through the attic and patch up the old ones!)

–Enjoy being crafty? These Do It Yourself ideas are fun, easy and can entertain both you and the pets that you are making the gifts for! 


— One easy and VERY helpful thing you can do for rescues and shelters is to offer to transport for them. Transporting is when you drive an animal (or several) from one place to another. Sometimes rescues ask for help driving animals to the vet and back, other times the transports are MUCH longer. Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to help. It is a way of bringing animals that were at risk of euthanasia to areas where they are more adoptable.  Often, the transports last for two days (with an overnight) and volunteers step up for specific “legs” of the route. These legs are usually around two hours, although volunteers can take as many legs as they would like. If you love animals and want to help, this may be the perfect way for you! You are saving a life simply by driving your car AND you get to spend a few hours with an amazing animal. What could be better than that? One of the BEST transports I have been a part of was bringing a lost dog from Minnesota to Texas. Read more about that here.

Have room in your house?  FOSTER!!

 –Every rescue organization and shelter is constantly looking for new fosters! By opening your home to one or two new animals, you are helping to change their lives forever! You are giving them the extra time they need to find that perfect home! 

–There are also organizations where you can foster a deployed soldier’s pet! This way, the animal doesn’t have to go to a shelter and be placed in a new home and the soldier can come home to his best friend! For more info, visit:

If you have the additional cash:

Donate food and items for your shelter’s wish list.

Although it is hard to say what they need without contacting them, these is a very easy list! When you’re buying food for your pet, why not pick up some an extra bag for the shelter animals? When items such as kitty litter, canned food, treats or toys go on sale- pick up some items for the animals at the shelter! Shelters are always in need of blankets, sheets, food, cleaning wipes, bleach, old newspapers, garbage bags, and paper towels.

—  When you are cleaning out your house, donate old sheets and blankets!  Also, find out if there’s a second-hand / thrift store in your area!

— Gift cards are always asked for too! That way the shelter can purchase items that are needed!

Make cash donations and donations “in honor of” and “in memory of”.

— For the Holidays or birthdays, ask friends to give you gift cards “from their pets” to give to animals that are in need.

— Have a little extra money this paycheck? Send it to the shelter that you adopted your pet from! Let them know how thankful you are!

Be a for the voiceless!

Give me a SHOUT OUT!

–Speak up to your friends and family about the shelter you are helping! The animals could ALWAYS use their own personal cheerleader!

–Always educate the people in your life on adoption! There are millions of animals that need homes, PLEASE don’t choose to buy! When you adopt you are rescuing a life!  When you are purchasing a pet from a pet store, newspaper or online you are more than likely purchasing from a Puppy Mill

Always make sure that you are donating to a cause that is worth it. While some shelters/rescues are “kill shelters”, many are not! Personally, when I am sending out my donations, I make sure that the money is always going to the animals and not to something else. 


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Life’s a Journey

One of my readers wants to share his success TAIL! Please read and leave your comments below!

All of my life, I have dreamed of owning my own dog. One I would love and cherish for my entire life. It started back when I was only 10 years old. All of my other classmates had their own pets, ranging from cats, hamsters, and fish; one of my classmates even had a raccoon as a pet. However, I was not very interested in owning any of these types of animals- I was interested in owning my very own dog. I would listen in envy as my classmates would talk about how their dog was special. I was even made fun of for not owning one. These moments had depressed me for quite a very long time. I was depressed at the thought of never being able to own a dog in my future. I asked my parents all the time for one, only to be told that I would not be able to get one unless I had a working job to pay for the expenses. Even constant years of begging brought no luck or hope to me as I was always told the same thing. As I grew up, I would donate whatever money I had to local shelters. I had even donated my entire money that I made from gaming after seeing a fundraiser for the Creston Animal Shelter. I ended up buying seventy dollars in supplies for them to show that help would always be available.

In my future, I would be blessed to have our first family dog named Ozzy; a purebred chocolate lab. Our parents had adopted him from a shelter and brought him home. He was quite playful and I was overjoyed inside but it still did not feel the same as if he was mine. Our second lab joined us last May. She was also adopted from a shelter and she is named Maggie. She is quite an energetic dog with the speed of a greyhound. But, likewise with Ozzy, she just did not feel right to me; like as she was my dog. I however continued to show my love for them and treated them both as if they were truly mine. It would not be long though until I would find my own dog to care for. I remember it was August 10th of this year. I was working the usual night produce shift at Hy-Vee, just running out the last of items to fill up before heading back home. Soon my attention was caught by an ad from the Creston Animal Rescue. It was highlighting the available animals up for adoption.

I browsed through them, many were very interesting but soon my attention caught on the last picture. It was detailing a German Sheppard/Siberian Husky mix. She was black and white, and two years old and named Journey. My heart soared in joy as I caught sight of her picture. It was like I was staring into heaven’s beautiful light when looking in her beautiful brown eyes. She was practically calling me out to adopt her and give her a home. I then quickly jolted back and rushed to punch out on the time clock, so I could write down contact information to ask for her. I then called three times for three straight days with no answer on the other side. My heart was starting to sink. “Was I too late? Was she already taken?” Those thoughts haunted my dreams and heart for two days. My heart soared in joy when I finally had received a call back and was told she was still up for adoption. I arranged a date to meet with her and take a look at her. I was so thrilled to finally see her but soon remembered my troubled part of this deal. I still had to ask my parents about adopting her.

 I was able to build up enough courage to finally ask them. With a raspy breath and built up courage in my heart, I finally spoke out “Mom and Dad…..I have really been thinking and keeping this secret for quite a while. May I adopt my own dog?” I ask this of them bravely; without fear. My parents were shocked at this. My father’s initial reaction was “Why? We already have two dogs you love so much?” He was trying to discourage me. My mother was quite interested and asked about Journey. I told her everything about Journey I had learned. My mother had a few moments of silence when I told her she was abandoned and have suffered from a nasty leg injury by her last owners. My father though was not amused and simply said. “We’ll think about it.” There it was again… heart just sank even more like a lead balloon. I had lived my entire young life being told “We’ll think about it.” Have I failed even more? I could not cope up with this thought and had my worst night of trying to sleep. I had tear-filled eyes when I thought I would never reach my goal of earning my own dog. I could not stand the thought of being heartbroken again, especially after seeing Journey for that first time. Finally the night came where my family could see Journey for the first time. I was quite excited but filled with fear to the fact they could say no.

After several long minutes she came. Journey was quite timid about seeing us. She had already been visited by five other people who then had turned her down due to her being timid around new people. I slowly approached her, offering my hand out as she sniffed in curiosity. I placed my hand on her, petting her and speaking to her. She enjoyed being around me. I walked her around the parking lot, getting used to her and soon decided, she just had to be mine. Everyday my excitement built more and more as I thought of her. The day would soon come as I picked her up from the shelter. She had a very nice sleeping bag to lay on in my backseat with her toy to play with. She rested and smiled at me as we were on our way home. When I arrived, I held her on her leash and walked up to our two labs. Ozzy and Maggie were silent for a few seconds before barking at her as if she was a stray. I knew this was normal as they were not used to her yet. The cats went up to her curiously as she sat next to me. She growled at them, not used to them as well. I simply just smiled and petted her. “It’s okay Journey, they won’t hurt you.” I said giving her a gentle hug as I lead her into her pen. She was hesitant to go inside but I soon got her to go into it. I decided to let her rest for a couple of hours to get her used to her kennel. I soon let her out and hooked on her leash, as she was excited to be walking with me. It took her quite a bit to get used to her new surroundings.

I share this experience with your readers to show why adopting her has done her way more good than it probably did for me. I saved her from a life of loneliness. I will always have never-ending love for her no matter what. I encourage all of you to adopt an animal from a rescue center like I did. I promise you will not ever regret it.

–Brett Sporleder

Saying… “Adopt, Don’t Shop!”