Uncovering national puppy mills

The Humane Society of the United States is reporting on problem puppy mills, including some dealers (re-sellers) and transporters. The Horrible Hundred report is a list of known, problematic puppy breeding and/or puppy brokering facilities.

It is not a list of all puppy mills, nor is it a list of the worst puppy mills in the country, but rather a list of dog breeders to avoid.

We provide this updated report annually, not as a comprehensive inventory, but as an effort to inform the public about common, recurring problems at puppy mills.

The information in this bad dog breeders list demonstrates the scope of the puppy mill problem in America today, with specific examples of the types of violations that researchers have found at such facilities, for the purposes of warning consumers about the inhumane conditions that so many puppy buyers inadvertently support.

2023 Horrible Hundred

Our annual report documenting 100 of the country's known puppy mills has been released for 2023. 

Missouri inspectors found an emaciated, nursing dog at Ellen Roberts/ Rocky Top K-9s
Missouri Department of Agriculture
2023 facts and figures
A poodle at Carol’s Kennel in Urbana, Missouri, was matted and appeared to have patches of hair loss.

In this year’s report sold to Petland, the only national pet store chain in the U.S. that still sells puppies.

A French bulldog puppy at Harry and Wanda Bonham’s kennel in Missouri was one of three dogs inspectors found with obvious health issues.

Have featured many of the puppy mills in this year’s as well.

Dogs at William Mathias’s kennel in Dover, Ohio, were found on gridded flooring without a solid area, which is not permitted under the state’s commercial kennel law.

In a row, Missouri has the most dealers (31) in the Horrible Hundred report.

A large number of caged dogs in outside enclosures at Ponca Creek Kennels

The boxer’s ribs could be easily counted from a distance, her hip bones and spine also visible. Her five tiny puppies were curled up below her emaciated body, sleeping next to an empty bowl. A Missouri Department of Agriculture inspector documented this shocking sight at a breeder who is still licensed in 2023, not only by the state, but by the United States Department of Agriculture. The owner, Ellen Roberts (Rocky Top K-9s), is listed in our Horrible Hundred report for the eighth time this year. Despite many ailing dogs found in her kennel over the span of a decade, it appears Roberts has faced no serious repercussions—an unfortunate trend we are trying to end.


Featured in this year's report

  • At the property of a breeder in Missouri (Ellen Roberts/Rocky Top K-9s), who appears in our report for the eighth time, state inspectors found cockroaches, piles of feces and many other issues at the kennel, in addition to the emaciated mother boxer. Yet a USDA inspection in January 2023 did not document any violations.

  • Since 2015, at the property of a breeder in Iowa (Steve Kruse/Stonehenge Kennel), USDA inspectors found more than 125 ailing dogs, including dogs with bleeding wounds, crusty eyes, lameness and hair loss. But the USDA recently relicensed Stonehenge Kennel through 2025.

  • At a self-described American Kennel Club breeder in Nebraska (Brenda Carroll/Carroll Sell Farms), inspectors found a bleeding dog and another matted with feces. This adds to the many violations that have been found at the property over the past decade.

  • At a facility in Missouri (Mary Smith/Smith’s Kennel) that has sold puppies to Petland stores, inspectors found dead mice and rodent feces. Some dogs didn’t even have drinking water.

  • Even though a breeder in Missouri (Sandra Kozlowski/Sho-Me Labradors) surrendered more than 80 dogs to the state four years ago, she was found keeping dogs in deplorable conditions in 2023. Large dogs were confined in tiny airline crates and did not have access to water.

  • At a breeding operation in Nebraska (Clem Disterhaupt Jr./Ponca Creek Kennels), inspectors cited more than 100 state violations between February 2022 and February 2023, calling it “unacceptable,” but our undercover footage from March 2023 shows the kennel remains in operation with many dogs on the property. 

Dogs with bloody feet at Steve Kruse’s Stonehenge Kennel
Puppies at Goedeke's Great Danes in Carrollton, MO with dead flies in their water.
Missouri Department of Agriculture
Buying a puppy online or from a pet store?

You could be supporting cruelty like this.