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The Horrible Hundred 2015: Puppy Mills Exposed

If you buy a dog online or from a pet store, you are likely supporting these businesses—or ones like them

Dogs found in substandard and overcrowded conditions at Mary Foster and Cathy Griesbauer’s Country Pets in Montgomery City, Mo. The facility is believed to be one of the largest puppy mills in the United States. Photo by USDA (2011)

Consumers keep buying, so puppy mills keep breeding. This year’s report shows that puppy mills are still a pervasive problem in the United States. Our report describes terrible conditions that state or USDA inspectors personally witnessed, including a mother and her days-old puppies found in a dirt hole; a breeder who performed DIY ear crops and tail docking without veterinary training; and many breeders who casually describe “euthanizing” unwanted dogs with a gunshot to the head.

Most of the listed puppy mills operate under names intended to lull consumers into a false sense of security—“Country Pets,” “Barb’s Pups,” “Kuddly Kritters Kennel,” “Heaven’s Blessings,” and even “In God’s Hands Kennel,” where dogs were found living in feces with frozen water in their bowls. There is one bright spot, however: at least two-dozen puppy mills identified in the last two reports are no longer operating.

Unfortunately, when it comes to bad breeders, this report is not and cannot be comprehensive. It is merely a small, yet representative sampling of the puppy mills in the United States —and a reminder not to be fooled by a cute name, a USDA license or registration papers. No matter what the sellers say, when it comes to breeders who sell online, to pet stores or at flea markets, puppy mills are not the exception. They are almost always the rule.

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Read our full report.

Check the listings below to see what we found in each state.

Arkansas | Georgia | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Minnesota | Missouri| Nebraska | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania | Tennessee | Texas | Wisconsin

Arkansas

Harry Rudell Freeman, Freeman Farms, Tilly, Ark.

Nursing mother dog had ribs and spine protruding; official warning from USDA for poor veterinary care.

Barbara Gullett, Gullett Kennel, Russellville, Ark.

Dogs with sores and hair loss.

Anita Gustin, Kings River Kennel, Berryville, Ark.

Nine dogs found in need of veterinary care.

Bill Nored, Dryfork Kennel, Prim, Ark.

Dog with her foot stuck in wire flooring; sick dogs with moldy food.

Leon Walthall and Peggy Van Huss, Wagging Tails Kennel, Siloam Springs, Ark.

“Strong smell of rodent urine,” five years of dirty conditions.

Gerald Watts, Marshall, Ark.

Emaciated dog in need of veterinary care.

Sarah Young, Clear Springs Kennel, Hardy, Ark.

Dog with exposed bone in jaw and missing teeth.

Georgia

Leslie Ayo, Heaven’s Gate Kennels, Fairburn, Ga.

Owner charged with animal cruelty after botched do-it-yourself surgeries on puppies’ tails.

Low Country Kennel, Statesboro, Ga.

Failed at least four state inspections for unsanitary conditions.

Illinois

Bridget and Greg Ellett, Ellett’s French Bulldogs, Vergennes, Ill.

Fined three times by the state; $1,000 fine for unsanitary conditions.

Merle Schlabach, Campbell Hill, Ill.

Unsanitary conditions and matted dogs.

Indiana

Elmer Lapp, Pine Hill Kennel, Hagerstown, Ind.

Dogs found living in darkness.

Iowa

Lindy and Kevin Aschinger, K & L Kennels, Westside, Iowa

Seventeen pages of USDA violations in 2014 alone; limping and wounded dogs.

Fedler Ag Inc., Pee Vine Kennels, West Point, Iowa

Dogs with open wounds and lesions.

Gary Felts, Black Diamond Kennel, Kingsley, Iowa

Dog with “severely bloody” wound and dog with oozing swelling on neck had not been treated by a vet.

Lucille Godfrey, Bussey, Iowa

Dogs exposed to freezing cold in temperatures as low as four degrees.

Martin and Barbara Hammen, S R K Kennel, Jolley, Iowa

Refused to let USDA inspector take photo of dog they planned to have shot.

Brian Huffman, Silver Fox Farms, Osage, Iowa

Received official warning from USDA for failure to provide adequate vet care.

Loren and Lora Kooiman, River View Kennels, Doon, Iowa

Admitted shooting dogs was “routine form of euthanasia.”

  • Iowa: Dogs at Randy Stoen's kennels were found with eye problems and/or open wounds. Previous inspections found accumulations of snow and feces. Photo by USDA (2011)

J Maassen, Inc., Rock Valley, Iowa

“Gunshot to brain at close range” not acceptable form of euthanasia, per USDA inspector.

Cathy Speer, Milton, Iowa

Six repeat violations in March 2015; dogs with signs of severe eye disease had not been treated by a vet.

Randy Stoen, Dows, Iowa

Dogs found with eye problems and/or open wounds.

Clayton Yoder, Clay Kennel, Kalona, Iowa

Puppies found shivering in the cold, others found inside a dirt hole.

Kansas

Dorothy Brecheisen, Dot’s Little Doggies, Inc. Lyndon, Kan.

Violations for five years in a row.

Marla and Roger Campbell, Iris Lane Kennel, Newton, Kan.

Fined $6,643 by USDA for failure to provide veterinary care.

Mary Carpenter, Blue Moon Kennels, Melvern, Kan.

Failure to obtain medical care for 30 sick or injured dogs.

Roxanne Castens, Ludell, Kan.

Very thin dog had not been taken to a vet; fined by USDA.

Pat Crabtree, Crabtree Kennel, St. Francis, Kan.

Puppies not vaccinated for deadly diseases.

Dianne Dick, Puppie Trails Kennels, Rossville, Kan.

Repeated violations of animal welfare act; fined by USDA.

Irene Finley, Herington, Kan.

Dog with softball-sized mass had not been treated by a vet.

Bonnie and Bobby George, Salina, Kan.

Hairless dog found shivering in the cold.

Virginia Hinderer, Wakarusa, Kan.

USDA veterinary care violations for four years in a row; medications 10 years past expiration date.

Justin and LaNae Jackson, Jackson Kennels, Clifton, Kan.

Dogs found limping and with open wounds.

Darlene and Charlene Koster, Rainbow Ranch Kennel, Minneapolis, Kan.

Yorkie died after not being treated for injury.

Michelle Miller, Plum Crazy Kennel, Elk City, Kan.

Failed three state inspections in a row; “continual inadequate space.”

Peggy Pierce, Pierce’s Kennels, Narka, Kan.

Dog’s severe matting covered 80 percent of his body; operator failed 8 inspections since 2011.

Keith and Lila Ratzlaff, Canton, Kan.

Dogs unable to avoid contamination with smeared feces.

Marilyn Soukup, Wilson, Kan.

Unlawfully failed to let inspectors in for ten different visits since 2011.

Darryl and Larry Wilson, D & L Kennels, El Dorado, Kan.

Given two official warnings by USDA for failure to provide proper care.

Minnesota

Wanda Kretzman, Clearwater Kennel Inc., Cushing, Minn.

USDA filed official complaint due to years of violations; one of the largest puppy mills in America.

  • Minnesota: Inspectors repeatedly found injured dogs at Renner's Kennel. Photo by USDA (2013)

John and Lyle Renner, Renner's Kennel, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Inspectors repeatedly found injured dogs.

Michelle Sonnenberg, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Standing water mixed with feces presented health hazard to hundreds of dogs.

Missouri

Pamela Baldwin, Samples Creek Kennel, Edgar Springs, Mo.

Dog’s open wound exposed muscle and bone.

Maureen Butler, PugPekinpoo-Tzu, West Plains, Mo.

Puppies “huddled together and shivering” in the cold.

Kimberly Coleman, TLC’s Kennel, Clinton, Mo.

More than 100 dogs and puppies confined in dark, windowless building.

Rachel, Virgel and Vickie Davis, Davis Kennel, Seymour, Mo.

Maltese found dead, frozen in bitter cold.

Stacy L. Farley, Lancaster, Mo.

Fined $4,107 by USDA in November 2014 for dogs with frozen water, filthy conditions and other problems.

Mary Foster and Cathy Griesbauer, Country Pets, Montgomery City, Mo.

Massive puppy mill has more than 1,000 dogs; received official warning from USDA for failure to provide medical care to ten dogs.

Sharon Fox, South West City, Mo.

Stench of ammonia [urine] in whelping room “burned the inspector’s eyes and throat;” cited for same issue four years in a row.

Jeffrey and Judy Gray, Rothville, Mo.

Recurrent veterinary care problems even after official warning from USDA.

Wilma Jinson, Jinson Kennel, Stella, Mo.

Sick, dead and dying puppies found by inspectors.

Earl Light, Corn Creek Kennels, Newburg, Mo.

Performed do-it-yourself euthanasia instead of taking hurt Chihuahua to vet.

Eva and Isaac Martin, Cedar Line Kennel, Fortuna, Mo.

Yorkie with possible broken leg went three months without being treated by a vet.

Eli A. Miller, Hill Top Kennel, Clark, Mo.

Dogs found panting in building with a heat index over 100 degrees; wormlike insects crawling in the food.

Barbara Neubert, Barb’s Pups, Formerly Neubert Kennel and Farms, Vienna, Mo.

Thin mother boxer’s ribs, spine and hip bones could be visualized from a distance.

Robert Osburn, Osburn’s Kennel, Joplin, Mo.

Dogs “covered with fleas and ticks;” one puppy had ticks in his ears, on his stomach and between his toes; more than a dozen dogs in need of vet care.

Carol Prothe, Urbana, Mo.

Fined by USDA for dogs exposed to freezing cold, excessive feces and injured dogs.

Ellen Roberts, Rocky Top K-9s, West Plains, Mo.

Sick puppies, dogs with mange and underweight nursing mothers.

Lynn Sartin, Lynn Sartin Kennel, Granby, Mo.

Dead puppy left in cage until next day.

Donald Schrage, Rabbit Ridge Kennel, Edina, Mo.

Year after year of sick and injured dogs; more than 90 dogs and puppies found ill or injured during USDA inspections.

Nathan and Juanita Schreiber, Circle S. Puppies and Paints, Revere, Mo.

"He killed this dog by gunshot;” inspectors found emaciated, sick and dying dogs.

Josh L. Souza, Chevorlet Ranch [SIC], Phillipsburg, Mo.

Violations found at 20 different USDA inspections within three years; dogs repeatedly found in need of vet care.

Allen Strenke and Jerry McClure, Jerrens Kennel, Grant City, Mo.

Repeated issues with thin and matted dogs.

David and Esther Troyer, Clark, Mo.

Do-it-yourself vet care involved re-using same syringe on all puppies.

John Winkelman, Osage Kennels, Linn, Mo.

Failed nine USDA inspections since 2012.

Nebraska

Jamie Bailey, Saints4Life, Beaver City, Neb.

Seller of “AKC Saint Bernards” and bullmastiffs failed ten state kennel inspections within two years.

Douglas and Mary Jane Brosh, Brosh’s Kennels, Pender, Neb.

Received official warning for dogs without water, excessive feces, dog with bulging eye.

Clem Disterhaupt, Jr., Ponca Creek Kennels, Spencer, Neb.

Received two official warnings from state.

Laurel and Barbara Gilbertson, Broken Bow, Neb.

Received official warning from USDA in June 2014 for seven violations.

Linda Hager and Edward Ruyle, Crab Orchard, Neb.

Dropped USDA license after more than 50 dogs were found in need of vet care and puppy died; failed nine state inspections but still licensed by the state.

Rodney and Joni Isom, Isom Pets, Page, Neb.

Received at least three official warning letters from state.

Jerome and Nancy Packer, Pack’s Pups, Wood River, Neb.

Received official warning from USDA in Dec. 2014 for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to six dogs.

Mitch and Alisa Pesek, Swanton, Neb.

AKC “Breeder of Merit” had underweight dogs, some without water or food; received two official state warnings for inadequate care.

Daniel and Jaynell Schaaf, Kuddly Kritters Kennel, Atkinson, Neb.

Dogs with veterinary problems found four years in a row.

  • Missouri: This massive puppy mill in Montgomery City held more than 1,000 dogs. The owners were warned by the USDA for failure to provide medical care to 10 dogs. Photo by USDA

Jo Anne Steiger, In God’s Hands Kennel, Randolph, Neb.

Received two state warnings for dogs and puppies kept in frigid conditions with frozen water.

Duane and Sheryl Tietz, Heavens Blessings, Bancroft, Neb.

"Heavens Blessings” kennel more like hell for many dogs found injured and untreated.

Paul Urbanec, Pender, Neb.

Dog’s open wounds were buzzing with flies.

Kevin and Anne Marie Williams, K & A Kennel, Ashton, Neb.

Failed five state inspections in a row.

Wulf Kennels, Guide Rock, Neb.

Dogs with frozen water and fly strike.

New York

Rebecca Graber, Waterloo, N.Y.

Excessive feces soiled the dogs’ fur.  

Marjorie Ingraham, Marjorie’s Kennel, Harpursville, N.Y.

Rusted-through enclosures had holes in the walls.

Frances and Isaac Zimmerman, Dundee, N.Y.

Violations at every USDA inspection since September 2011.

Ohio

Marvin Burkholder, Berlin Kennel, Millersburg, Ohio

Sale of underage puppies; wounded dogs.

Alvin Hershberger, A & E Kennels, Sugarcreek, Ohio

Dogs in the freezing cold with only barrels for shelter; owner was warned four times that a plastic barrel is not adequate shelter.

Andy Yoder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, Millersburg, Ohio

Seven dead puppies found in one day; dog had severely embedded chain collar

Oklahoma

Brett Bonham, Calvary Creek Kennels, Cordell, Okla.

Seven dogs had open wounds from biting flies.

Jan Harper, Welch, Okla.

Emaciated dog had trouble walking.

Dwayne Hurliman, Cordell, Okla.

Massive kennel received two official warnings from USDA in 2014 for failure to provide adequate vet care, yet problem recurred.

Chris McGill, Chris’s Kennel, Mcalester, Okla.

“Thin” dogs with wounds.

Ray Range, D & B Kennel, Arnett, Okla.

Blind dog, dog with ping-pong ball-sized tumor and others had not been treated by a vet.

Dawn and Robert Troupe, Dibble, Okla.

Injured dogs and filthy conditions.

Pennsylvania

Garden Spot Puppy Haven, Parkesburg, Pa. (Chester County)

Cited for selling underage puppies.

Hill Top Farm Kennel, Honey Brook, Pa. (Chester County)

Eight warnings or citations from the state since 2010.

Marlin Zimmerman, Turkey Hill Kennel, East Earl, Pa. (Lancaster County)

Received six verbal and written warnings from state since 2010.

Tennessee

Rebecca Van Meter, Queen Elizabeth Pocket Beagles and Bears, McDonald, Tenn.

Two hundred animals removed from squalid conditions, yet owner still sells online.

Texas

Susan Franz, Belton, Tex.

“Overwhelming smell,” violations found at last eight USDA inspections.

Wisconsin

Mose Bontrager, Hillsboro, Wis.

Dogs infested with lice had not been treated by a vet.

Herman Gingerich, Brooknook Puppies, New Holstein, Wis.

Excessive feces found several years in a row.

Alvin and Esther Nolt, Thorp, Wis.

Dog found with tumors and open wound.

John Zeiset, Lone Pine Kennels, Thorp, Wis.

Dog had “open and discharging” neck wound from embedded chain collar.

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