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.
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 County. Latest USDA Count- 387 adult dogs, 152 puppies.
Steve Kruse- Stonehenge Kennels, Lee County. Latest USDA count- 823 adult dogs, 584 puppies. THIS 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 protestsin 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!
It is no secret that Iowa is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the number of puppy mills. We have over 220 puppy mills and we export over 100,000 puppies across state lines annually. These puppies go to other brokers (person who makes a living buying puppies and selling them at a higher price) or the puppies go straight to pet stores. The Hunte Corporation is the biggest broker in the United States, they supply approximately 80% of pet stores with their puppies (around 85,000 sold in one year alone). The Hunte Corp is simply a company of puppy buyers, and then they resell them for a profit. In the most recent issue of the Iowa Pet Breeders Association directory, the Hunte Corporation had an advertisement that said they would give you a free bag of dog food for every puppy sold. While the Hunte Corporation is located in Missouri, their puppies supply pet stores world wide.
Not all brokers are as big as the Hunte Corporation, and several of them are breeders as well. This is a side of the puppy mill world that the public never sees. In fact, pet stores go to great lengths in order to keep the public from ever finding out where the puppies really come from. In the latest article coming to you from Bailing Out Benji, we want to highlight some of the Iowa breeders that are filling the cages of pet stores near you. We desperately need more people to realize that Iowa puppy mills truly are a national problem. Thanks to the ASPCA and the USDA, all of the information in this article was very easy to find and organize to make easy for our readers. Please note that all hyperlinked words (blue and underlined) either lead to the facebook page or website of the breeder (for easy commenting!) or to the ASPCA site for more photos and information. Don’t hesitate to click around!
The puppies have to travel over 4 hours to get to the store… In a semi? In crowded vans?
Cathy Speer has been cited repeatedly in the past for excessive waste, outdoor housing without wind or rain breaks, lack of vet care, and incomplete vet records. To read more in-depth violations and more photos from this breeder,click here.Both of these pet stores tell their customers that their puppies come from small, local breeders when in all reality the puppies are from five hours away.Sadly, the latest inspection reports show 26 adult dogs- but Cathy can’t bother to take adequate care of the animals in her care. I wonder what their customers would say if they actually saw where the puppies come from.
Michael Knudtson, Lake Mills, Iowa.
USDA license No. 42A1149
Supplies: Petland in Joliet, Illinois
For only having 26 adult dogs on his property, Michael Knudtson is extremely neglectful to them. Years and years of inspection reports show a long list ofviolations.His most recent violations show dogs with open wounds, inadequate heating (36 degrees in the kennels with water bowls frozen over) Once provided water, dogs drank for almost 2 minutes. But, Petland Joliet insists they sell puppies from reputable breeders…. We know the truth now, don’t we?
CW’s Quaint Critters: Connie and Harold Johnson Melvin, Iowa. License No. 42B0226
These poor, not even 8 week old puppies travel over 21 hours just to sit in a pet store cage.
Supplies The Dog House in Manchester, Connecticut
The Johnsons have had several violations in the past, including not having shelter in their outdoor facilities, not having cages that are easily cleaned, buildup of filth in cages, and one of the male beagles was seen straining to defecate and passed a thick red matter. Recent inspection reports show that this breeder currently has 121 adult dogs. To see more of these photos and violations,click here:Right on the website of “The Dog House” they say that they only work with accredited breeders to ensure that each puppy they sell will be healthy and well adjusted. They also claim to have the largest selection of breeds in the area. Check out the photos below and in the link, it is clear that they are not being honest to their customers.
The cages at the Dorothy puppy mill have been called into question several times in recent history. Several wires can be seen poking into the cages, which poses a danger to the animals, the water can be seen as a grimy green color, and the food bowls are metal with jagged edges. (see more here). However, the pet store claims that they have established relationships with the most respected breeders across the country. Does this look very respectable? How would those customers feel if they knew that these animals weren’t being taken care of? Judy Dorothy, per the latest inspection report, shows that she only has 24 dogs and repeatedly fails to care for them.
These puppies travel over 17 hours, just to sit in cages and wait for someone to buy them.
Ben and June Paxton: Greenfield, Iowa. License No. 42A0238
Supplies Animal Kingdom in Bismark, North Dakota, those pet store puppies have to sit in a van or semi for over 10 hours.
As you can see inthis linkand from the pictures below, the dogs live their entire lives on these wires cages. This can cause deformities in their feet and legs. You can also see that their food bowls are excessively chewed. Ben and June have 102 adult dogs that will live in these cages all day, every day for the rest of their lives.
Brule Creek Kennel; James and Cynthia Hayes, Akron, Iowa
USDA license # 46-B-033 (licensed in South Dakota)
Supplies: Spectrum Pets, Irvine CA; Puppy World, Greenfield WI; Best Pets, Pacifica CA; Family Pet Center, Chesapeake VA; The Pet Shop, Newark NJ; Petland, Fort Meyers FL; PetWorld Inc, Rochester NY; Bob’s Tropical Pets, Ridge NY; Pups & Pets, Santee CA; Vilaggio Family Pets, Temecula CA; The Pet Shop, Bethleham PA; Petland, Largo FL; Petland, Rome GA; Oh My Dog, Kearney GA; Russo Pets; Newport Beach CA; Petland, Dallas TX
Wow. That’s all I can say…. On puppy mill supplying over 16 pet stores with puppies. Can you imagine how many litters the parent dogs must have? And when the breeder uses photos like the ones below ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE! You know that they have zero shame in what they are doing.
Black Diamond Kennel; Gary Felts, Kingsley, Iowa
USDA License No. 42A0757
Supplies: Petland Kennesaw, Georgia
As always, Petland claims to use “reputable breeders”… Sadly, in the case of Petland Kennesaw, they chose one of the HSUS Horrible 100 worst puppy mills in the United States. Not even just one of the worst mills in Iowa. Nope, Gary Felts operates one of the worst puppy mills in the entire country. With years and years of violations, his dogs live their entire lives in the worst conditions without ever knowing proper vet care or the kindness of a human. After being born and raised in cruelty and filth, the puppies must travel over 15 hours just to sit in cages in the pet store.
High Point Country Kennel: Noah and Lashell Thomas, Garden Grove, IA License No. 42A1454
The photos below and the photos that the ASPCA received from the USDA inspection reports show that several of their dogs have excessively long nails, which hinders their ability to walk correctly. As you can see, these dogs are also forced to live on these wire floors their entire lives which, as we said before, can cause permanent injury to their feet and legs. The latest USDA reports are showing that they have 58 adult dogs on their property. The store won’t ever admit that they chose a breeder like this, instead they claim on their website that “Petland puppies must meet standards before they can become Petland puppies.”
After leaving one of the worst puppy mills in Iowa, the puppies have to endure a 22 hour trip, only to sit in a pet store cage.
Northwest Kennel- Leonard Stover: Sheldon, Iowa. License No. 42B0186
If you haven’t yet, I implore you toclick on this linkand see all of the matted dogs. Leonard Stover has been sited several times for not grooming his animals. If you are unaware, mats can be very painful, dirty and can hide wounds. The pet store claims that the customers can be sure that they are receiving puppies “from a quality location”, these photos tell another story. Not only does he breed cats, he has over 114 adult dogs on his property.
Mary Yoder: Bloomfield, Iowa. License No. 42B0283
Supplies: American Breeders in Mohegan Lake, NY, Laughlin Kennels in Oxford, MA, NY Pet Club in Flushing, NY, U.S. Pets in Astoria, NY (At least an 18 hour trip for the puppies)
Mary Yoder’s kennels are spotless, in fact they look almost sterile. She has over 400 adult dogs living in these cages all day, every day for the rest of their lives. This is where we run into problems with the definition of puppy mills. Some people will look at this breeder and think that spotless equals reputable. Others look at these kennels and see a very bleak life for the dogs. Yes, the cages appear clean, but is that the trade of for affection and exercise?Here is the link to the ASPCA site.
Yoder has supplied puppies to Petland Kennesaw. While they claim to use reputable breeders, Yoder has been cited over the years for various animal welfare violations. Her most recent inspection this year noted lack of protection from the elements (it was judged to be 14 degrees Fahrenheit that night) and a beagle and Boston terrier were noted to be shivering and lacking bedding. It was also noted that there was a lack of appropriate record keeping of USDA records on the dogs. Time and time again, these pet stores and puppy mill owners are failing the dogs… Why? Because the money is just too sweet to care about the well-being of animals.
Brad Grotewold sells to at least five pet stores, all of them claim to sell the best puppies. Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets goes as far to claim to have the “only source of screened quality bred puppies in WNY”. As you can see below andin this link, Brad has had numerous violations that were directly affecting the welfare of his animals. Excessive feces, rusty cages and feeders, excessive accumulation of feces, and cages with dirt build up. On the Petland website it states that they “start that process by selecting only the highest quality, healthy pets for our stores”. I wonder if their customers would agree with that statement? The Petland Robinson in Pittsburgh claims to help homeless animals, all while supporting this breeder. The Kicker? Brad Grotewold has over 369 adult breeding adults trapped in his facility.
After leaving one of the worst puppy mills in Iowa, many of the puppies won’t survive their 18+ hour drive to the pet store.
Laura Groeneweg: Rock Valley, IA. License No. 42A1296
Laura Groeneweg’s puppies travel over 1700 miles to get to this Seattle based pet store. The store stands behind their puppies in saying that, “Our puppies come from good, caring, reliable people. The parents and puppies are well taken care of.” Sadly, the inspection reports beg to differ. Accordingto this linkand past inspection reports their breeder has been in trouble for using expired medications on their adult dogs, the adult dogs are in cages that do not meet space requirements, the puppies feet are too small and pass through the wire flooring, and there is an excessive build-up of feces. If only the customers could really see the hell that these dogs are going through on a daily basis, maybe then they wouldn’t buy the “cute” puppy in the pet store. With all of these violations, Laura only has 34 adult breeding dogs on her property.
Nick and Tiffany Menne: Lime Springs, Iowa. License No. 42A1398
The Pet Store in Danbury, American Breeders states that their “breeders have been personally selected to provide you with the best registered purebred and hybrid puppies you can find.” As you can see below and in this link, this is one of the breeders that they personally selected. Nick and Tiffany Menne in Lime Springs, Iowa have had numerous USDA violations including excessive accumulation of dog waste (pictured below), dogs in outdoor enclosures with no shelter (pictured below), and several dogs with excessively long toe nails. You can see more photos and violations here. I wonder if American Breeders would proudly show these photos in their store, next to their guarantee of “personally selected breeders” or if The LI Puppy Experience would showcase this side of the “BEST BREEDERS WHICH OUR REPUTATION RELIES ON (taken from their website)”
. Instead, these 209 adult breeding dogs get to eat, sleep and walk around in their own feces day after day for the rest of their lives.
Jan Budden: Maurice, Iowa. License No. 42A1413
Supplies: We Love Pets, Media, Pennsylvania
With recent inspection reports showing over 66 adult dogs and a LONG list of violations (including use of expired medications, cages having excessive feces, cages have build up of dark brown liquid and previous violations including: dogs requiring immediate vet care and use of expired medications), it makes us wonder why a pet store would purchase puppies from a place like this. It is clear that the adult dogs are not being cared for. Sadly, profit is the only thing that matters. So the puppies endure a 19+ hour ride, only to be sold to the first person who whips out their credit card.
As you can see, there is a huge problem with the breeders that these pet stores are choosing to get their puppies from. There are several pet stores in Iowa that choose to get their puppies from places just like these (you can read about Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe and the mill that has 150 dogs trappedhereand Critter nation and how they get their dogs from two huge puppy millshere). Also,Petland in Iowa City and Pet’s Playhouse in Cedar Rapidsare knowingly purchasing puppies from Iowa puppy mills. Remember, Pet store puppies ARE puppy mill puppies– don’t buy the lies.
Either these pet stores don’t know (highly unlikely) or they don’t care because business is booming. When are they going to be held accountable for the lies they are pushing on the public?We will add to this list as we come across more pet store/puppy mill connections. To read more about Iowa puppy mills by the numbers, please click here!
** UPDATE*** Since this article published, a few pet stores have chosen to go HUMANE and only offer rescued animals– Alsip Nursery in Illinois (both of their locations!!) and A Place for Pets in Washington!
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!
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 petfinder.com 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 business.
How many of you have walked by the pet store and saw the adorable puppy with big eyes and a wagging tail? The puppy that is just pawing at the glass for your attention. All of us animal lovers have such a hard time just walking away because we want to save them all.. Out comes the money, and there you have it- another pet store puppy is sold to the first person with $600.
While it is partly true that we saved this dog from a life unknown, at the same time, we have just supported a puppy mill. Almost every time someone buys a dog from a pet store or online, the dog has come from a home in which the parents are merely thought of as property.
The fact is that in the US there are almost 10,000 puppy mills operating today. This means that there are hundreds of thousands of dogs bred in conditions that are completely appalling. These unfortunate dogs receive no human contact, no exercise or veterinary care and are often kept in tiny wire cages trapped in their own filth. Many of them, once rescued, are unable to walk properly when removed from their cage and placed on solid ground. The only concern of the puppy mill breeders is the bottom line profit they can make at the expense of the health, safety and disposition of their “product”. These mills do not have heat or air conditioning, so in the winters many of the dogs freeze to death, and in the summers, the dogs die from heat stroke.
Even more alarming is the fact that the ASPCA (who did a survey of 800 U.S. adults from across the US), the “vast majority of people surveyed -78% of them- told interviewers that they believe that puppies sold in pet stores come from such places as shelters, or private owners whose pet had litters, or they really had no idea where these animals came from.” That is just appalling to me! I can’t imagine that 78% of Americans have NO IDEA what a puppy mill is. This has got to change!
My goal with this post is not to use scare tactics to educate people. I just want to lay out the facts so I can raise awareness for the Pet Store/ Puppy mill connection. Education is the key. When people stop buying puppies in pet stores or through online internet ads, the puppy mill industry will no longer be in demand and the misery will end. Please join me in this fight.
How can you help right now?
NEVER EVER buy a dog. Whether it is directly from a breeder or online. You are putting money into the pockets of people who are helping the high numbers of euthanized pets each year in shelters. Do you want a purebred dog? Well statistics show that 33% of dogs in shelters are actually purebred. AND most backyard breeders aren’t selling purebred puppies! You are dishing out $600 for an adorable APRI registered dog, and that means nothing! APRI is a national registry that only has the breeder send in a photo of the dog and they take a look at the face and body. Then they decide whether or not it is purebred. There are no blood tests done. APRI also doesn’t ask that you screen the dogs for genetic defects. ANY DECENT BREEDER always wants to know exactly where the dog is going. They will want references and proof that you can have the dog where you live.
ALWAYS ADOPT from an animal shelter or rescue. These pets are not “broken” or damaged. They are simply hearts that need to be loved. I have heard so many people say that they are worried about the behavioral problems and training of a shelter dog. This frustrates me. Who is going to need more training than an 8 week old puppy?
NEVER GIVE YOUR MONEY TO A PET STORE THAT SELLS PUPPIES OR KITTENS. Not for an animal, not even for food, treats or toys. By giving this store your business and time, it is letting the owner believe that he is successful. It is important to let the owner know that you are offended that he/ she sells these animals and that your money will never go to his business. I suggest that you write a letter (make sure it is decently respectful) that explains your reasoning for not going to their store anymore. If they feel as though their business is being threatened, they might just back down!
ALWAYS try to educate. If someone you know wants to buy a dog, please tell them what their money is really going to. Even if you “do the research” and you have “seen the parents”, you likely haven’t. So many mills today have adult dogs set aside that look pretty and healthy, so buyers are relieved to see where their puppies come from. What you aren’t seeing are the dogs stashed away in that barn 100 ft. to your left. IF you are hell-bent on getting a purebred dog, go to petfinder.com. You can search for any kind of dog and it won’t cost you nearly as much to adopt him/her as it would to buy.
**I want it to be said, again, that I do not hate all breeders. If you have a small operation and you take great care of your dogs, then I am happy to see you around. It isn’t my intention to make enemies with this. I am just trying to get the world to see that by purchasing a dog from a pet store, then you are aiding in the suffering of its parents. NOT ALL BREEDERS ARE THIS WAY. But the great breeders do not sell to pet stores. I strongly suggest you look at the USDA reports for the Hunte Corporation in Missouri and the Kruse family in West Point, Iowa. These are the breeders that need to be stopped. These are the ones that clearly put profit over the welfare of the animal. **
Again, thank you friends for always reading what I have to say. I always love to read your feedback (whether it is negative or positive). And please PLEASE share with your friends! It is so important to get this information out there! Email it to family, coworkers, facebook it, tweet it… I don’t care! I just want to someday live in a world where we “Adopt, Don’t Shop!” and where people never ask, “What is a puppy mill?”