The Humane Society of the United States has released its annual Horrible Hundred report, which exposes violations or concerns at 100 puppy mills to educate the public about conditions prevalent in breeding operations throughout the country.

Researchers combed through inspection records from state agencies and the United States Department of Agriculture to reveal shocking practices in puppy mills all over the country. The findings included puppies suffering at the hands of an Iowa breeder who was doing his own at-home neuter surgeries (Squaw Creek Kennels), a Missouri puppy mill where one dog died of a lice infestation and others from wounds (S-N-S Kennel), and an American Kennel Club-linked Oklahoma breeder whose kennel was so infested with mice that some dogs were unable to eat their food without ingesting rodent feces (Goodman’s Good-Dog). None of these dealers received significant fines or penalties.

“Whether the dogs live in barren kennels tucked behind a tree line or are hidden in an unremarkable outbuilding off a long driveway, and whether a breeder has an AKC badge displayed on their website or sells puppies through a pet store like Petland, this report shows what life is really like for dogs and puppies in this cruel industry," said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills campaign. “Our report is the tip of the iceberg—as shocking as circumstances are in licensed puppy mills, there are many operations that aren’t inspected at all due to legal loopholes. It’s critical for the public to understand the full picture of where their puppies come from, and they won’t get that on a breeder’s website or in a pet store.”

  • Several examples from the report demonstrate the fundamental failure of USDA licensing and inspection practices to hold breeders accountable: The Missouri Department of Agriculture investigated breeder Aaron Schwartz, who is USDA-licensed, after receiving a complaint from someone who acquired a sick puppy who died shortly after being picked up. When questioned about the health of other puppies in his kennel, Schwartz reportedly admitted that puppies he had sent to a broker had tested positive for parvovirus and had been euthanized. Inspectors also learned that two entire litters of puppies had died in Schwartz’s facility, and there was no record of any treatment of those puppies. Investigators also found a number of violations at the facility, including dogs who were kept in a 95-degree building. Despite these disturbing findings by a state inspection agency, it appears that the USDA has not cited Schwartz for any violations in recent years\.
  • Minnesota breeder Ada Yoder received an official warning from the USDA about puppies found in an excessively hot kennel. At an inspection a few months later, the exact same Direct violation was again noted. Yoder dropped her USDA license a few months later, after which the USDA issued a new license number to a person at the same address named Andy D. Yoder.

The report also documents terrible conditions and practices at breeding operations endorsed by or linked with the American Kennel Club, including breeders who failed state inspections and received violations in USDA inspections.

  • Nebraska breeder, Peggy Shaw, identified by the AKC as a “Breeder of Merit,” had a  Direct violation for 32 puppies found on dangerous flooring, and for a dog who was squinting with an apparent eye issue; she had 160 dogs at a recent inspection. A Direct violation is one of the most serious that the USDA can identify, because it indicates present harm or risk to a dog.
  • Iowa breeder Patti Kowitz, who has appeared on the AKC’s Marketplace website, failed three state inspections in a row; her kennel was found to have strong odors and dirty, cluttered conditions, with only one person caring for about 60 dogs.
  • Ohio breeder Melvin Miller, who had also appeared on AKC’s Marketplace website, was cited by state inspectors for repeatedly failing to have dogs declared healthy prior to breeding them.
  • Sportsman’s Kennels in New York, which is AKC-linked, was cited by state inspectors for repeated issues with lack of rabies vaccines or expired vaccines at a puppy mill with over 280 dogs.

The report also makes clear that Petland, which has puppy-selling pet stores in 23 states, has sourced puppies from many problematic breeders with reoccurring violations.

  • A Petland-linked kennel in Indiana, Rowe Eden Kennels, has its license status listed as “revoked” on the USDA database after recently refusing an inspection.
  • A massive Petland-linked breeder in Iowa, Coldwater Kennel, had its USDA license renewal delayed because of unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
  • An Arkansas breeder, Elisa Brandvik, who has sold to Petland, is the subject of a USDA administrative complaint alleging she “willfully violated” the Animal Welfare Act regulations and refused to let inspectors check on her dogs.

For a dozen years in a row, Missouri is home to the largest number of dealers in the report. This year, Ohio was a close second, followed by Iowa and Wisconsin. However, some states are underrepresented in this report as officials did not respond to record requests in a timely manner.

The HSUS publishes the report annually to warn consumers about common problems at puppy mills, and to promote enhanced laws and stronger humane law enforcement. The HSUS encourages anyone who wants a puppy to consider shelter adoption first, or to visit a home breeder in person and see where the puppy was born and raised. Anyone who has purchased a sick puppy from a pet store or a suspected puppy mill can report it to their local authorities or to the HSUS at

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