The Humane Society of the U.S. releases seventh annual Horrible Hundred report

Many problem puppy mills have links to the AKC, Petland or PuppyFind.com; USDA Failing to Crack Down on Violators

May 14, 2019 – For the seventh year in a row, the Humane Society of the United States has published a list of 100 problem puppy mills and puppy brokers in the United States. The Horrible Hundred report is published annually to warn consumers about humane concerns at puppy mills and highlight the federal government’s failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act at many of these operations.

After the most recent report was published in May 2018, some of the dealers appeared to close permanently, including the Laughlin Kennel in Massachusetts, Georgia Puppies in Georgia and Samples Creek Kennel in Missouri. But this year’s report shows that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some state agencies still have a long way to go in ensuring humane care for breeding dogs and their puppies, as required by law.

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Over the past 12 months, dozens of puppy mills across the country have been found with serious violations on their state or federal inspection reports, including some that had a high death rate in puppies, underweight animals and dogs with open lesions who had not been taken to a veterinarian. We hope consumers will join us in calling on federal and state agencies to do a better job of enforcing laws regulating commercial breeders.

Key findings in this year’s report include the following:

  • Some states represent a chronic puppy mill problem.
    • Missouri continues to have the largest number of puppy mills in this year’s report for the seventh year in a row (22), followed by Iowa (13), Pennsylvania (12) and Ohio (eight).
  • More than a dozen breeders in the report claim an affiliation with the American Kennel Club.
    • Breeders in the report claiming an affiliation with the AKC or offer “AKC registerable” puppies include:
      • Patchwork Kennel in Missouri, where state inspectors found 10 underweight dogs.
        • Carroll Sell Farms in Nebraska, which state inspectors found “routinely noncompliant” for issues such as “piles of feces” and a limping dog.
        • Eichenluft Working German Shepherds in Pennsylvania, which has a history of veterinary issues and repeat violations stretching back almost a decade.
  • Several dealers in the report have supplied large numbers of puppies to Petland, Inc.
    • Petland, Inc. is the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the country and has been the subject of a series of undercover investigations by the HSUS, which exposed poor practices and sick and dead animals in Petland stores.
    • Horrible Hundred dealers selling puppies to Petland include Tiffanie’s LLC in Missouri, where state inspectors discovered 35 puppies died in 2018, and Blue Ribbon Puppies in Indiana, which was linked to puppies with contagious diseases like zoonotic Campylobacter and canine distemper.
  • Approximately 20% of dealers in the report have offered puppies for sale on PuppyFind.com.
    • On the property of one of the PuppyFind sellers, Got Game Bird Dogs in Kansas, inspectors found puppies with no water when the temperature was over 90 degrees; they fought to get to the bowl and then drank voraciously when the breeder was instructed to give them water.
    • Another PuppyFind seller, Marilyn Shepherd/Williams of Missouri, had her USDA license revoked 13 years ago and has been in four different Horrible Hundred reports, but is still offering puppies for sale on PuppyFind.
  • USDA records demonstrate a lack of citations and enforcement.
    • In several cases, the HSUS found dealers with repeated serious violations on their state inspection reports but clean USDA reports.  Unfortunately, USDA has taken steps to reduce transparency of its implementation of the Animal Welfare Act, but those federal reports we have obtained indicate that many dealers with violations on state reports were not even cited for a single violation by USDA.
    • For example, at Puppy Love Kennel (aka Cory’s Cuties) in Missouri, state inspectors found numerous problems, including multiple noticeably underweight dogs in both October and December 2018, but the USDA gave the facility a clean inspection report during the same time period.

“Many of the horror stories documented in this year’s Horrible Hundred report led to nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. “State agencies are finding serious instances of animal suffering at some of the same puppy mills that the USDA has declared were in compliance with the law. Puppy mills will continue to be a major problem until the USDA gets serious about enforcing animal protection measures.”

The USDA took a step forward in March 2019 when it proposed a rule that could prevent problem sellers who have had their licenses revoked from obtaining a new license under another name. If finalized and properly enforced, the rule could also prevent chronically noncompliant breeders from automatically obtaining renewed licenses and it would require dog breeders to obtain individual annual veterinary examinations for each dog. While the proposed rule is a good start, if the USDA is not diligently and accurately citing breeders for egregious problems and applying meaningful penalties, then the rule will be moot.

As of the publication of this report, the rule was still open for public comment; the public can weigh in. It is also critical that USDA restore full public access to inspection and enforcement records, so that the public can adequately monitor whether USDA is fulfilling its duties to ensure humane care and treatment of dogs and other animals.