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 !!

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.

If you like what you read, please “like” our facebook page! 🙂





Designer Dogs = Expensive Mutts

Cavachons, Dorkies, Yorkipoos, Buggles, Goldendoodles, Cockapoos, Bowzers, Porkies, Baskimos, Puggles.

What do they all have in common?  

They are all mutts… Really really really expensive mutts. By slapping the “designer dog” label on them, unscrupulous dog breeders and puppy mills are able to sell them at outrageous prices so the consumer feels like they are getting something “special” and “new”. When really, they are getting a high-priced mutt, that more than likely isn’t recognized by the AKC.

Some even tell buyers that these new “breeds” like yorkiepoos, buggles or  jugs will be recognized by the AKC some day very soon. But people in the market for a new puppy  need to realize that a cute name doesn’t turn a mongrel into a  purebred. If you fall for the hype, you could pay more for a mutt than you would  for a registered, guaranteed purebred.

Creating a New Breed Using Existing Dog Breeds

Ever heard of a Chusky? Yeah, me neither, not until I started doing research for this article. According to many sites, I own an expensive “designer dog”. My beautiful dog Zeppelin is a 100% purebred Chusky (sarcasm very much intended) and I got him for the low, low sale price of $0.  Had his previous, abusive owners known that, they wouldn’t have surrendered him into my care at no cost! This beautiful Chow-Husky mix is absolutely one of a kind, and he is just that… One of a kind. Which is why most designer breeds haven’t been accepted by the AKC. When two purebred dogs are put together, you don’t always know what is going to come out the other end. You can’t know which traits it is going to get! It is like breeding two people. You can’t possibly know if it is going to get dad’s work ethic, or mom’s artistic abilities.

Doodles are another hot, new breed — except they aren’t a breed, either. They are  a mix of Poodles and Labradors or Golden Retrievers. Most doodles you see for  sale are just first generation crosses of retriever to Poodle. They are mixed  breeds! There is a puppy mill owner in Altoona, Iowa that will sell you a “GoldenDoodle” for $400, while the shelter down the road will adopt it to the right family for less than $100.

Another fun fact: The “oodles” of Poodle mixes like yorkiepoos, pekapoos, schnoodles (and so on)  have absolutely no breeding standards, no club, no standardized breeding records, and no plan  for the future–which means no AKC acceptance letters for these doggies. So what is the point? Why go to a pet store and spend $1000 on a designer mutt, when you can go to your local shelter or and find something that is just as adorable, SO much cheaper, and that is going home with all (or most) of its vet work done?

Here is my thought for the day… If rescues and shelters started putting these designer labels on their dogs, would they be adopted more quickly? I am really curious about what you think!

If you “like” this article, PLEASE “like” our facebook page 🙂


And as I always say… “Don’t Shop, Adopt!”  

Want to know More? Read it here:

Shelter dogs aren’t broken!.

How much is that doggie in the window?.

Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe, Ames, Iowa… A store NOTORIOUS for selling Puppy Mill puppies.

“Puppy” isn’t just an age

It is a learned behavior!

It wasn’t me!

How many times have you seen a puppy nipping at hands, jumping all over the furniture and going to the bathroom where ever they please? How many times have you heard the excuse, “Oh she’s just a puppy…”

… Until that puppy is a giant black lab and her cute little antics aren’t so cute anymore.

What starts off as a cute puppy habit turns out to be supremely annoying. No one wants a dog that tears up  your brand new heels!  It’s never too early to start training your puppy. Just like raising children, whatever behavior is allowed from an early age, is a learned behavior your puppy will think is acceptable in to adulthood. It’s easier to teach your puppy from an early age what is acceptable behavior, and to nip bad behavior in the bud before it’s too late!

It is my belief that there are no bad dogs… only untrained dogs! And these dogs are more likely to end up in a shelter, because of their supposed “high maintenance”… Which means that they are more likely to wind up euthanized and that is something that no one wants for their pet!

My advice to you is to study up! Read dog training articles, read dog books and just educate yourself! Your dog gets all of their cues from you, even when you don’t know you are giving them! There are so many dog trainers out there and their whole job is to just help you get your puppy to listen. Even if you aren’t sure that you need one, call the trainer. Talk to them and tell them what is going on. They will tell you exactly what you need!

It was the cat…

One trainer that I have been following on facebook is the Canine Connection LLC and it is in Dubuque, Iowa. I recommend them 100%. They follow my “positive reinforcement” beliefs and they do it all: puppy training, group classes, private classes, an in-home sessions! If you are in need of any training tips, please contact Canine Connection LLC 🙂 Also, feel free to “like” them on facebook! They are great about giving dog training tips!


Do you have any trainers that you recommend 100%? Please leave their info in the comment box! It doesn’t matter which state you are in! People ALL OVER need advice.


And don’t forget to “like” us on facebook!  🙂 


Did you buy your puppy? Are you 100% sure the breeder you used is reputable?

Read here about puppy mills 

Read here about my experience at a Dog Auction

Is “Faux Fur” really that fake?

“I love animals and would NEVER wear real fur- 

faux fur should be safe, right?”

Shockingly… no. There are many reports out there that claim that most garments claiming to be made of “faux fur” actually tested positive for dog fur. In one test, the Humane Society of the United States tested 25 different jackets and of that, 24 of them were not labeled correctly.  3 of them came from a domesticated type of dog, twenty came from a type of raccoon dog that is  native to the Asian and northern European forests, and one of them was made from wolf fur. These “faux fur” products are no safer for consumers to use than actual fur coats. What is the difference, you ask? How do they get away with this?

Since the products are less than $150, no label is required to inform the public that it is made of actual fur. Most of these products came from China. There is a thriving dog- and cat-fur industry in Asia. Most of this fur is falsely labeled as “rabbit fur” or simply not labeled at all. Dog and cat skin is made into fur coats, fur figurines, and leather shoes, which are sold to unsuspecting consumers in America.      Outraged? So am I. I have compiled a list of stores and brand names that take advantage of this loophole. Personally, I don’t even wear fake fur, but I want to educate consumers so they make an informed decision while shopping.

Department Stores that sell (sold)  these products include: Macy’s, Burlington Coat Factory , J.C. Penney, Nordstroms, Younkers

 Designers/ Brands  include Sean John, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Andrew Marc’s MARC New York label, Marc Jacobs

Miss Leppert, a spokeswoman of the HSUS reported that “There is no suggestion that the retailers knew Chinese
suppliers were substituting dog pelts for fake and other types of fur. But they should know this. They are not properly policing
themselves on this issue. Millions of these animals are coming out of China and being passed off under the wrong labels all round the world. There is a lot more the big retailers could be doing. They have a responsibility for the products they bring to market.” 

On a good note, both Tommy Hilfiger and Nordstom tried to handle this new information the best way they could. Hilfiger stopped selling the fur-trimmed coats immediately and said that they would look into the matter because they are concerned with the findings. While, Nordstrom called 62 of its customers who had bought waistcoats trimmed with dog fur and offered them  a full refund.

However, an executive of Andrew Marc, disputed the HSUS findings and insisted that all fur on his coats labeled as raccoon contains “only farm-bred raccoon fur from Finland”… Ummm that still isn’t faux fur in my book!

Retail giants Macy’s and J.C. Penney were also discovered selling coats with raccoon dog fur labeled as raccoon. J.C. Penney initially removed the offending garments from its stores — but eventually had employees scratch out the ’raccoon’ label with black magic marker and put the coats back on the shelves. Macy’s, however immediately pulled the items from its shelves.

Burlington Coat Factory also pulled some coats with mislabeled fur from their shelves. Rap artist Sean “Diddy” Combs stopped producing and selling coats from his Sean John line that had raccoon dog fur, and rapper Jay-Z pulled coats with raccoon dog from his Rocawear label.

Another fun fact: Importing domestic dog and cat fur was outlawed in the United States in 2000. Intentionally importing and selling dog fur is a federal crime punishable by a $10,000 fine for each violation.

Don’t forget UGG boots. Yes, they are made from wool and (usually) the sheep are alive and shaved down humanely- however- after much investigation, it was proven that UGG boots are made from sheep that have been discarded because their wool isn’t good enough to sell. These animals are kept in awful conditions and, ultimately, slaughtered in very inhumane ways. I am NOT advocating that you go and buy the knock-offs though… Those shoes are made from the same raccoon-dog fur that I talked about above. These animals are beaten and skinned alive, after living their lives in tiny cages. 


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Dog Auctions

Dog auctions are a painful and despicable fact of life here in the Midwest, maybe not Iowa as much– but definitely our neighbors to the south. As I am sure you have all realized by now, the importance of educating as many people as I can about animal-related issues is my passion.  Dog auctions are certainly no different. They go on almost every weekend… Thousands of dogs are switching from owner to owner, never knowing the love that they deserve.  I recently went to an Iowa dog auction, please read my story here …. 



How many of you haven’t ever heard of dog auctions? Let me give you this scoop!  

Picture this…

Large rooms filled ceiling high with wire cages, stuffed full of dogs whose sole purpose in life  to make puppies.  I say “was” because by the time the dogs are brought to these auctions, they are unwanted by the owner for various reasons. The term for this is “cull”. These “culls”, more often than not, can’t even breed well anymore. Each dog is identified with a number tattooed on the inside of the ear, or the inner thigh. They are almost all purebreds of  every breed and the ever so popular “designer dog”. I should tell you that it is usually impossible to tell which breed it is because of the terrible health conditions. The fur is always grown out and matted, filled with ticks and clumps of blood. Not to mention the fact that the nails are so long the dogs can barely walk. The saddest part about all of this is, the rooms are usually so quiet because the dogs are too terrified to move, let alone bark. This is the first time a lot of them have ever been out of their usual cages. It all sounds like fiction, doesn’t it?

But what can we do to change this? The people who visit these types of auctions aren’t your run of the mill (no pun intended) dog customer. These are the other puppy mill owners that are either looking to get some new blood lines into their stock or the local rescues that go in to try and save as many as dogs as possible.

 Here are a few of my suggestions:

1. Boycott puppy mills.  This means never ever  ever buying a puppy from a pet store or from a website. If you want a dog, please please please go to your local shelter or rescue. They have so many dogs that need loving FURever homes! And so much of the public doesn’t even realize that over 35% of dogs in the shelters are purebred. Don’t believe me?! Try it… Go to and search for a breed, I am certain you will find just what you are looking for.

2. Talk to your veterinarian and let he/she know how you feel about dog auctions and puppy mills. Try to encourage him or her to take a public stance against them.  In my experience, the vets that are near these mills know exactly what is going on, and they almost always turn a blind eye to it. Each USDA breeder must have a veterinarian that looks over their dogs once a year… That means that with the 300+ puppy mills in this state, there are that many veterinarians on their payroll… Sad, isn’t it?

3. Share this blog with your friends… Share it on facebook, twitter, email it to your coworkers, link it to your blog– I don’t care! It is just so important that we reach as many people as possible with this message. I can talk and talk all day long, but I am almost always preaching to the choir. Until we can get our neighbors, coworkers, and friends to realize that buying a dog is bad for everyone then we all fail.

As always, comments are welcomed and appreciated. Please, if you have ever been to a dog auction, share your story. You can remain nameless, but it is just one more way for people to see that these things DO happen.

Horrible video that shows exactly what I am talking about… If we don’t stop these atrocities, who will?!


Teach your children how to behave with animals. Adopt a pet.
Don’t go buy one. Please. That’s a sin. Let’s get these puppy mills out of