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!
Hello, All! As you know, at Bailing Out Benji we are dedicated to helping puppy mill dogs in various ways…. One of which is by outing puppy mills and the pet stores they sell to. If you have been following our educational efforts at all, you will have seen that we have been protesting one pet store, Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe, in Ames, Iowa for almost 4 years now. Dyvig’s hasadmitted to buying puppies from two puppy mills here in Iowa. While we have a presence in front of the store every Saturday and Sunday (with surprise weekday protests sprinkled in), we have stepped up our game for Puppy Mill Awareness Month. Our #ThirtyDaysThirtyProtests campaign is back for the month of September and we have been able to reach a lot of new people with our message. Most days, it is hard to see the direct fruits of our efforts… But other days, we are given the best “thanks”. Today is that day.
Bailing Out Benji receives dozens of emails and private messages every day, not to mention all of the comments of support and shares. Tonight, however, we received a very special message. A woman, who unknowingly supported a puppy mill, by purchasing from New Design Kennels. After the first puppy she purchased from NDK died after only 7 months from an intestinal disease, her boyfriend purchased a second one. For $100 off the normal price, for their inconvenience of losing the first one. Sadly, the second dog wasn’t much healthier. He had to undergo a very expensive surgery for IVDD, a genetic disorder in which trauma to the spinal cord results from hardening of the spinal disks. Because of this woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, we were given a link to the blog written by the owner of New Design Kennels, Nancy Carlson, and we are SO excited to be sharing her words with you tonight.
Her full blog can be readhere, but we thought a point by point breakdown of her arguments was a little more fitting because, as you all know, the facts don’t lie. So here we go! “Sex, Lies, and New Design Kennel” (Screenshots have been taken directly from her blog.
Well, let’s be real. Nancy Carlson and I have been in the room together at least three times. The first time she was auctioning off her dogs. Dogs that were missing eyes, limbs and were visibly ill. She transported them to the auction in a trailer meant for a car. It was truly one of the most horrifying experiences I have ever had. The second time, I had the pleasure of defending our puppy mill awareness PSA against her, Rob Hurd and the owner of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe, Dale Dyvig. She embarrassed herself in front of a room full of businessmen by claiming that I have invisible drones that fly over her property and that I threaten to rape her in the same cages that she rapes her dogs in (her words…. because… yuck.) And the final time, Nancy was- again- at a puppy mill auction. This time, buying more dogs to breed.
Also, Bailing Out Benji started long before I ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with Nancy Carlson.
In the many years of operating the kennel, I am the ONLY person who has ever complained. Really? Can anyone name a business that has 100% customer satisfaction anywhere? Then I will consider myself very lucky that the very first person that ever bought a sick puppy from New Design Kennels (bought two) and contacted me! Sadly, this just isn’t the case, and it isn’t even believable. And I am just going to put this here. Not only does Nancy Carlson operate New Design Kennels, but she runs a separate breeding website called “Illusion Japanese Chin” and even reputable breeders/ show breeders /breed enthusiasts know that something very shady is going on there. What kind of reputable breeder needs more than one name?!
Hmmm…. Not only have I personally helped rescue dogs in horrid conditions that came straight out of puppy mills, but we have ALL seen those photos. Dogs that are completely matted, dogs that are too old, dogs with open wounds… These conditions have all been backed up by USDA inspections in which the inspectors cite these violations. Those dogs are all still breeding. Being “in the mood” doesn’t matter to animals when they are in heat. You can see some of those reports here, thanks to the 2015 Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill List
As Nancy said in her own blog earlier, ” a set of predator-drone flyover photos of our property several years ago”. The photos that Bailing Out Benji has of New Design Kennels ARE of their property, she admitted it in her own blog. Never once did we say that the cages were too small, sadly, they are more spacious than some puppy mills, but the dogs are forced to live on wire their entire lives. I will let you see those photos for yourself… And you can decide.
So…. Again…. Do YOU think that New Design Kennels is a puppy mill?
There ya have it, everyone! And that’s the truth!
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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.
What 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.
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. TheAmish 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.
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 hereto 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?
This 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.
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 !
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.
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What weighs 12 tons, is seen by tens of thousands of people a day, and is carrying Iowa’s first Puppy Mill billboard?
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 isScarlett Sunshineand 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 ourfacebook pageand let us know your thoughts!! Would you like to see one of these ads in your neck of the woods?
When it comes to animal protection laws, the state of Iowa comes in almost last out of the whole nation, according to theAnimal Legal Defense Fundat the end of 2012. Ranking 48th out of the 50 states, Iowa has a lot of room for improvement, with no one in the government willing to make that happen. Since Iowa is an agriculture state, any laws that have a glimmer of hope for the welfare of animals are usually shot down quickly, or watered down so the deep-pocketed Ag benefactors are satisfied. This leaves animal lovers in a very tough spot. The biggest problem with Iowa and the lack of animal protection laws is WHO we need to contact in times of urgency.
I have always been told that the “go-to” contact has always been IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture), as they license any animal entity in the state (breeder, shelter, groomer, etc). Sadly, IDALS is no more accountable than the USDA when it comes to handling complaints about those people who are supposed to be taking care of animals. There is a reason we are the bottom-dwellers within the ranks of the nation.
Recently, I was contacted by a woman who was in a tight spot. While she wishes to remain anonymous, her story must be told. She and her family bought a puppy from Cheryl Gribble, owner and operator of CG Kennels in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and it died just a few days later. Gribble offered the woman a free puppy to replace the one that died, as breeders often do. When the woman showed up at the kennel, she was appalled by what she saw. Filthy cages lined the non air-conditioned garage, and the “breeder” admitted to breeding her 17 dogs and selling her puppies in parking lots and at the fairgrounds. The dogs were running around inside, breeding amongst each other. Gribble admitted that her next litter was a father/daughter combo because they can’t keep the dogs off of each other. Several of the dogs were noted as being very neglected- covered in fleas, being blind and have deformed jaws. Immediately, the woman was told to contact local law enforcement, IDALS, as well as someone from the local humane society- as this appeared to be an illegal breeding operation. In the state of Iowa, if you are breeding more than 3 females you must be licensed. Gribble was not state or USDA licensed.
IDALS reacted very quickly by sending out a certified letter to the breeder, giving them 10 days to respond to the inquiry. If they don’t respond, the case would be referred to the state veterinarian who would decide what action should be taken next. When Gribble received her letter, she informed the state that she got rid of most of her dogs and the remaining ones were altered. IDALS took the breeders word for it and closed the case. The animals, in fact, left the property for a few days and have since returned.
The Webster County Sheriff’s department and an animal control officer from Fort Dodge went to the breeder’s home. Upon driving up, they could smell the urine from the driveway. Gribble refused to allow them entry into her home and threatened to sue everyone involved. Neither entity has been back since.
That’s it. The case is closed. The breeders are still breeding those dogs and are continuously threatening the woman who bought a sick puppy. So, these animals need YOUR help! Please, send an email toIDALS at (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask them to step in and help those animals that are trapped in CG Kennels- 2114 South 13th street. Fort Dodge, Iowa
This isn’t the first time that IDALS has dropped the ball, and it certainly won’t be the last.
It isn’t often that the USDA does more than write-up one of their breeders, but actually takes steps to shut them down. In the state of Iowa, if you are a USDA licensed breeder, you must also be licensed with the state. So, common sense says that if the USDA pulls your license the state will too, right? Wrong.
Meet Julie Arends, puppy mill owner from Jewell, Iowa. She runs the mill “Julie’s Jewels” and everyone drives by it when they pull into town, but very few people give it a second thought. While under the supervision of the USDA, Arends received several violations and nothing was ever done about it. In September of 2010, Arends received 19 non-direct violations such as: excessive matting, opens wounds, severe bug bites, severe accumulation of materials/ hair/ dirt/ debris, areas of standing water, gullies of urine/feces/debris near the kennels, kennels being being so small the dogs couldn’t turn around or lie comfortably, and not enough staffing. At the time of this inspection, Julie Arends had 148 adult dogs and 77 puppies on her property. As far as USDA breeders go, Julie’s Jewels is a bad one. Not the worst that the world has seen, but pretty terrible. So what happened that would cause the USDA to pull her license?
During the inspection that you just read about, Julie Arends snapped and went after the USDA inspector. She screamed at Cynthia Neis (USDA) and stole the photos that the inspector took of the neglect. Julie also threatened to start packing heat and that the dogs were “her dogs,” that she could do what she wanted with them, and that she was going to have the veterinarian kill 50 of them. After the rant was over, Julie Arends tore out of the driveway in her pick-up truck. She later turned around and tried to run the USDA inspector off of the road. To read more about this incident,click here
After a hearing, the USDA decided that, “Allowing C&JA (Carolyn and Julie Arends) to continue to hold an Animal Welfare Act license would be contrary to the Animal Welfare Act’s purpose of ensuring humane treatment of animals because C&JA and its agents have made it unsafe for APHIS employees to inspect C&JA’s facilities, animals, and records. C&JA’s principals, Julie Arends and Carolyn Arends, and C&JA’s apparent agent, Eldon Arends, are unwilling and/or unable to comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and the Regulations.” So their USDA license was pulled…. However, the state of Iowa still deems them fit to breed dogs. And so they do. Litter after litter, while the dogs sit neglected in their tiny cages. As of late, the mother/daughter duo has been operating under a different name, Arctic World Puppies
One of the most common things that I hear whenever I contact IDALS (or the USDA for that matter) is that these complaints and photos are just a “snapshot” in time. So they aren’t taken seriously. Several of us have also made complaints to these entities about a small roadside zoo that is riddled with violations and neglect, but as it stands, no one will step up to protect these animals either. In the last 2 years, they have been inspected by the USDA 5 times with a total of 25 violations, yet nothing has been done to improve those conditions. To read more about the Cricket Hollow Zoo, click here
So what can we do about this? Who is supposed to swoop in and save those animals?
That burden falls on you, me and the general public. A lot of change can be made by holding those in charge accountable and facebook has made that so much easier. Please, contact the state of Iowa and ask them why they aren’t doing their jobs. Ask them why breeders like this are allowed to continue neglecting and abusing animals.
More importantly, don’t ever lose your voice! When you see an act of abuse or neglect speak out! Contact your local humane society, county sheriff and the local government. Get people involved. Share the story, ask others to do the same and let’s get these animals the help they deserve.
If you hate puppy mills, don’t forget to likeBailing Out Benji on Facebookto stay updated on these topics and more. We can also provide information on puppy mills in your area! Please PM us through our facebook page
Everyone has differing opinions of what a “puppy mill” is.
Some breeders say that it is a derogatory term, much like a racial slur. Other breeders say that the “AR”s (or Animal Rights Activists, as they refer to us) are using it as a blanket term to cover anyone that breeds and that we want to end all breeding altogether (which is false, by the way)
My own PERSONAL definition of a puppy mill is ANY breeder of any size that puts the profit of the sale over the welfare of the dogs left behind. I don’t care if you have two dogs or two hundred. If you are allowing the parent dogs to go without proper food, water, shelter, VET CARE, or socialization then YOU are a puppy mill, by my standards.
Sadly, Iowa is full of these. Even worse, the reputable breeders won’t step forward and speak out against these terrible facilities.
According to the USDA website, Iowa has over 239 USDA Commercial dog breeding facilities…. How many of them can honestly say that they care for their dogs? As you have read, I have been to an auctionwhere sick and injured dogs were still being bred and then sold to worse kennels to continue this terrible lifestyle. Well… It has got to stop.
If you are curious about puppy mills in your area, here is the link to the USDA website. From here, you can search for name, city, county, type of animal… You name it, and it is all public information.
I dare you to drive by one of these places in your area. Don’t stop… Don’t harass… Just drive by. See what I see… Smell what I smell… Hear what I hear.
Put a face on the evil in your area. Draw attention to these places. Stop being complacent.
Do you know anyone in Polk County (Iowa)?
Do you know anyone that lives in Des Moines?
Melving Jennings lives at 2650 NE 108th Street, Mitchellville, Iowa- A 20 minute drive from our state’s capital. Yet, it remains hidden among Iowa’s agriculture. NOT ANY MORE. Help me put Jenning’s on the map.
However, Denny Wiese Iowa Puppies (a breeder just down the road, in Altoona) recently closed her doors and it is rumored that the dogs were recycled into this facility. Her latest USDA report showed 161 adults/85 puppies (on 11/7/11).
Jennings has been cited in the past for having “an excessive accumulation of feces on the wire flooring” and it affected approximately 75 dogs.
Do you think that he can take care of 100 extra dogs?
Did you know, you can drive right by this place and see dogs from the road? You can hear their barking from your car.
Here is the link again to the USDA website.Don’t wait for someone else to tell you about the breeders in your area.
**Note: I am not condoning any violence or action against the breeders found on the USDA website. It is meant to be an educational tool to aid in informing others about the atrocities that are happening in your own backyard. Please share the information and make complaints to the proper authorities in your area (sheriff, humane society, and department of agriculture… yes, complain to all of them)
I did something that I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for since I started Bailing Out Benji… A small group of friends and I drove almost two hours to attend a puppy mill auction in Vail, Iowa. Thankfully, K-D Kennels owned by Dean and Karen Grell is officially OUT OF BUSINESS. After years of bad USDA reports, they are leaving the business. Sadly for all of their 240 dogs (and a few puppies), they were being auctioned off like property instead of going to rescues. Please read my story, share it, and reach out if you have any questions!
This was a very intimidating experience, for sure. Walking on to this property that I had read so many awful things about, not knowing if I will be kicked out immediately, or if I will be hauled away because I couldn’t keep my comments to myself. The thoughts were rolling around in my head, and I knew I had to try to keep them from crossing on to my face. I was horrified at the place. It was like hell on earth. There were several buildings that were not much more than sheds with runs on the sides of them. Most of her “kennels” were in semi trailers that had been turned into a giant dog house with out-door access. By that, I mean that she has wire cages that are lifted off of the ground, as you can see in the photo. Notice the poor dogs standing on the wire bottom flooring. The auctioneer, Bob Hughes fromSouth West Auction Service, even commented on the grounds. His phrasing was, “Folks, this kennel here is average. I am not gonna say its great. On a scale of one to ten, it is a five. But you won’t find a lick of dirt or a smell. And you aren’t buying the kennel, you are buying the dog. And these dogs are a ten.” As you read on, you will find that these dogs that are a “ten” have many external issues (not to mention the internal ones).
As I walked passed all of the helpless dogs and into the big steel barn, I saw many people who I recognized by name and face… We had Mr. Bob Hughes, the auctioneer who claims to auction off 22,000 dogs per year, Mr. Rob Hurd who is a past presidentof the Iowa Pet Breeders Associationand he also works with theAmerica’s Pet Registry(which is notoriously used by backyard breeders and puppy mill owners), Larry Albrecht from Cold Water Kennels, Shirley Hershey fromTLC Kennels in Pennsylvania, a representative from MWI Veterinary Supply, a person from America’s Premier Pets in Missouri, and so many Amish Families including the Yoders and the Yamisons. There were around 700 people in attendance- needless to say, we were in a room full of evil and we had to keep our mouths shut.
As we walked in to this run-down steel barn, we were all given an 18 page packet with a list of the dogs that would be going on sale. This included their birth dates (if known), color of dog, “name” of dog, the last known pups, and whether or not the dog could possibly be pregnant. Seeing all of the dogs that needed saved was very overwhelming, but we looked at the book and picked the dogs that we thought needed the most help. When the auction officially started, the items being sold were the water bowls, some cage doors, and other little things like that. I was just observing the crowd until I saw them place a giant Styrofoam cooler on the table. Bob and his helper, Christine Strobietto, began cutting away the tape to reveal a huge pile of unopened vaccines. Bob said that there were 100 unopened boxes of vaccines that expired in September of 2011 and that “they would be good for another two to three years”. As the bidding started, he repeatedly prompted the crowd, saying that they could “vaccinate their entire kennel at 1/4 the price.” The whole scene was sickening. Not only have the Grell’s been in trouble with the USDA for using expired medications, but I was in an entire room of breeders that were cut-throat bidding just to get their hands on these vaccines that had been outdated. As disgusted as I was, this was only the beginning of my nightmare.
Once the dogs were thrown on that auction table, we knew that the stakes were pretty high. First the Shih-tzus were up and they were going for upwards of $1000. Quicker than anything, we were going through these dogs. The auctioneer decided to do more of a “Dutch” style auction, where there were five of one type and the highest bidder can take his pick, take a few, or take the lot. Then the second highest bidder was offered a chance, after that the bidding would start all over again. I think this was done to try to deter the rescues from being able to get even a handful of animals. While the bidding was going on, I did notice four guys in the back of the room who were all dressed pretty similarly. They were bidding on dogs, but never took a dog home. I feel like they were there to drive the prices up, if they noticed rescue “type” people bidding. Sadly, the game was on and we were the underdogs…
As the poor animals came and went, you could see the terror on their faces. They were visibly shaken and terrified. At one point in time, Bob Hughes stopped the auction to show the volunteers how to properly show these dogs. This involved grabbing them by the base of the tail and yanking them upward, while holding their chin up. This was a very uncomfortable experience for the dogs. I have seen it done at dog shows, and this was nothing like that…. At one point in time, I had to leave the room because there was an Italian Greyhound screaming at the top of its lungs. It had deformed toes (several were chewed off) and just being placed on the table was excruciating. I had never heard a dog make those sounds before. It took everything I had to stop myself from running up to that table and grabbing that dog. I know that Rob Hurd would have loved that though. Further proof that all of us animal lovers are “AR”s and extremists. Even Rob got onto the floor and helped with the auctioning. He would hold up the six-week old puppies and show them off to the crowd, as Bob stated that. “they have their entire breeding lives ahead of them.” At one point in the auction, I watched Rob sarcastically salute to a dog as it was whisked away to its new home. This made me absolutely sick. Moms with puppies were going for $2500.
There were 348 dogs up for auction from the Grell’s and another breeder, Nancy Carlson fromNew Designs kenneland Illusion Japanese Chin. This number doesn’t include puppies that they “threw in” with the price of the mom. Most of these dogs were in pretty bad shape. You could tell that they had recently groomed the dogs a little, most were shaved down- but they all still smelled pretty badly. That being said, the auctioneer was very honest and up front with what was wrong with the dogs, but he threw in the disclaimer that everything will be sold as is.
Let’s see, there were dogs with:
Missing teeth or NO teeth (this is applicable to most of the dogs), broken jaws, soft jaws, three legs, many dogs were missing toes (one only had a single toe on each back foot), a Shiba had a badly broken back leg that hadn’t been fixed (so it was curled up and deformed under its body), many of the males one had a single testicle, there were a dozen or so dogs that had open umbilical hernias on their stomachs (that were the size of a pen hole), other dogs had closed hernias, a few dogs had “tick sized” knots on their backs (according to the auctioneer), missing eyes, spots on their eyes, cloudy eyes, under bites, and over bites. Word to the wise, if the dogs have this many problems on the outside, they are a mess on the inside.
None of this matters in the world of puppy mills, however. These were all products… property to be used, abused, and profited from. When referring to the age of the dogs, Bob and Christine would refer to them as an ” ’08 model” , like it was a car. I distinctly remember them auctioning off a Bichon saying, “She may be an ’03 model, but she’s got plenty of litters left in her”. The whole scene was sickening. These dogs (the sick and injured) were going for thousands of dollars. It was tough to watch and impossible to bid against. I overheard an Amish couple talking about how these prices were the highest they had seen them in years. But why? Just a week ago at an auction in Missouri, they were giving away Shih-tzus for $1 but 6 days later they are worth $500 or more?
Once the equipment sale was going on outside, the room cleared considerably. It was pretty easy to tell who the breeders were, and who the rescuers were. Not that it made any difference to the auctioneer. Money was money- and competition was his paycheck. The most expensive dog that day went for over $3000, less than 20 dogs went for under $100, a few were between $100 and $200, but most were $750 and up. A very sad day for the dogs.
In the end, we were able to save a handful of lives, and I saw a few other rescues walking out with precious souls as well. This article isn’t dedicated to those that we saved… It is dedicated to those poor dogs that are being recycled into a worse life. I had to watch the Amish load their vehicles and it was sickening. Three to four dogs thrown into a travel cage- no food, no water, no blanket. who knows how long they would be in their tiny vans. And if you know anything about Amish puppy mills, they are the worst. The dogs often live in completely darkness and are badly abused.
Puppy mills are legal. Dogs auctions are legal. We need to educate or friends, family, and coworkers, as well as elect officials into office that will help us stop these atrocities.
Now that I have been to this auction, I am forever changed. I saw so many evil people who use animals for profit and I have lost a lot of respect for humanity. Thankfully, there are a few amazing angels out there that are willing to rescue animals from these (and other) situations. If this story hit home for you, please remember to share it with anyone that you know. Please, SHARE THIS ARTICLE, spread the word and help us educate as many people as we can reach!
Remember to always adopt, instead of shop for your next pet.
EDITORS NOTE: Since this first auction in 2012, I have been to several more auctions. Some better, some worse than the one above. My feelings on the subject have never changed and I have certainly learned more about attending. Now our organization works hard to raise funds for upcoming auctions in order to save as many lives as possible! And we work with other rescues to ensure that they have a safe place to go afterwards.
Since photos were not allowed on premises, I have added photos from around the country of puppy mills and puppy mill auctions.
These are a few slides that I have added to my presentation (sorry they are so blurry)… But I wanted to share this visual with all of my readers. Keep in mind these are all “if” numbers. The actual numbers do vary a little because of the breed, age of the dog, and (more often than not) the breeder charges way more.
So that being said…
If the female ONLY has 6 puppies in a litter, only has two litters in a year and the breeder ONLY sells them at $400 a piece, that female is worth $4,800 annually… That is $28,000 during her entire breeding life (if she is only bred for six years…)
This is all a numbers game… If that same breeder has 25 breeding females, then his annual income is around $120,000 a year.
In all reality, Steve Kruse makes almost 2 million a year. This is because he sells to pet stores and through other brokers. But still… two million?! Now, if you are like me… It makes you wonder how much of that profit goes back to the breeding dogs. In reality, almost none of it goes back. While one female makes almost $5,000 a year for the breeder, she is fed cheap food and receives little (to no) vet care. As of 2/22/12 – Steve Kruse had 895 adults and 263 puppies trapped in his wretched buildings. These dogs are never let out of their cages (unless its for breeding), they never get handled, and they are never given the chance to learn what love is.
This is why we need to educate our friends, family and co-workers on where the money actually goes when they purchase a dog from a breeder, online, or from a newspaper. Sure, the outside of his facility looks decent, but the inside is terrible. CAPS has taken numerous inside videos, and a pet store of his is currently being protested. Read more here about the “Happiness is NOT Pets Protest”
–Mindi… Please, “Don’t Shop, Adopt” and help educate those you know by sharing this post!
And if you think Steve Kruse’s Stonehenge Kennel is bad, please check out the scary world of the Hunte Corporation! You will be shocked.