The Humane Society of the United States has released its annual report revealing 100 problem puppy mills and puppy brokers in the United States. The report uncovers dogs suffering across the country at puppy mills – many of which are still in business despite years of animal care violations, including citations for injured and emaciated dogs, dogs and puppies exposed to extreme cold or heat without adequate housing, and some with dogs living in such filthy conditions that they were covered in their own waste. Some dealers even admitted to shooting dogs or puppies they no longer wanted.
For the first time since 2017, the Horrible Hundred report includes a full list of kennel names and license numbers. The report has been published every May since 2013, but since the U. S. Department of Agriculture data purge in 2017, some of the kennel names were unavailable and some puppy mills were only identified by city and state. This year, HSUS researchers again had access to complete information on each puppy mill, after Congress required the USDA to restore unredacted inspection reports to its online database, starting in February 2020.
For the eighth year in a row, Missouri has the largest number of puppy sellers on the list (30), followed by Ohio (nine), Kansas (eight), Wisconsin (eight), Georgia (seven) and Pennsylvania (six). But because puppy mills sell to pet stores and via websites across the country, puppies from breeders included in the Horrible Hundred report are distributed throughout the country.
“With the Department of Agriculture failing to protect these helpless animals, and some agencies being forced to pause their inspection programs amid the pandemic, dogs rely more than ever on the public to vote with their dollar,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills campaign. “Dog lovers can help by refusing to buy a puppy, or any pet supplies, from pet stores that sell puppies. In addition, it’s critical for pet lovers everywhere to contact their public officials and let them know they support stronger laws and enforcement.”
Some of the most disturbing findings in the 2020 Horrible Hundred report include:
- Wendy Pets, a USDA-licensed dealer in Kansas, admitted that they shot and killed two dozen dogs. State inspectors cited Wendy Pets for the inhumane form of “euthanasia,” but the USDA did not. This follows a history of increasingly weak oversight at USDA, where enforcement actions have plummeted about 90% over the past few years. Wendy Pets provides puppies to pet stores across the U.S.
- An AKC breeder in Michigan (Paul Steury) was investigated by HSUS and is currently being sued by the state’s attorney general for allegedly selling sick puppies, misleading consumers and killing unwanted puppies. Approximately a third of the dealers in the report, like Steury, claim to be affiliated with the American Kennel Club or sell AKC puppies. The AKC claims to be an organization for dog lovers, but routinely fights laws designed to crack down on bad breeders.
- A USDA-licensed dealer in Iowa (Stonehenge Kennel), which has over 650 dogs, has been found with nearly 50 sick or injured animals since 2015, including limping dogs and dogs with open wounds, yet it remains licensed with USDA year after year. Stonehenge Kennel has been in the Horrible Hundred report three times, and continues to sell to pet stores across the U.S.
- Two dealers in Missouri (Cedar Ridge Australians and Puppy Love Kennel, aka Cory’s Cuties) were both found with multiple emaciated dogs living in dreadfully poor conditions. Both have been taken to court by Missouri’s attorney general, and their cases are pending. In the meantime, both breeders still advertise puppies for sale on their websites to unsuspecting consumers.
- More than half of the dealers in the report are licensed by USDA, which enables them to sell to pet stores or sell puppies online to unsuspecting consumers. At least four of the dealers in the report sold to Petland stores, the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the country.
In the weeks and months since these issues were documented, dogs have been placed in even more danger. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the USDA and many state agencies have paused their inspection programs indefinitely.