Iowa dog breeders continue to lead the nation in violations


This dog was photographed by a federal inspector during a 2021 visit to Henry Sommers’ Happy Puppy kennel in Cincinnati, Iowa. (USDA photo, courtesy of Bailing Out Benji)
By: 
Clark Kauffman
Iowa Capital Dispatch

Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy mills sanctioned by the federal government, with far more violations cited in Iowa this year than any other state. There have been at least 623 documented violations across the country to date this year, with Iowa operators responsible for 42%, or 267, of the total. The states that are next on the list are Missouri, with 75 violations; Wisconsin, with 59 violations; and Indiana, with 29 violations.

National data on violations is collected and analyzed by Bailing Out Benji, an Iowa-based animal-welfare organization that uses U.S. Department of Agriculture records to track regulatory compliance of breeders and kennels.According to Bailing Out Benji’s collection of USDA data, these states had the most violators in the third quarter, which ran from July 1 through Sept. 30:

  • Iowa: 14
  • Arkansas: 10
  • Missouri: 9
  • Ohio: 9
  • Wisconsin: 7

Mindi Callison, executive director of Bailing Out Benji, said Iowa’s No. 1 ranking in both the number of violators and the number of violations is “extremely concerning given the fact that USDA licensees are currently exempt from state inspections and regulations set forth by the Iowa Department of Agriculture.”

 

She said while Iowa has done a “great job of increasing standards for companion-animal licensees,” Iowa’s federally licensed dealers and breeders don’t have to comply with those regulations.

 

“Even more troubling is the fact that we are seeing commercial dog breeders who are repeat offenders canceling their license and getting a new one to hide from these (past) violations,” Callison said. “This is a common tactic within the puppy-mill industry, and it does little to provide transparency to potential puppy buyers or to protect the animals that are suffering within these facilities.”

 

She said some breeders have compiled a long record of “horrific violations” over the past decade, but “no change ever happens when it comes to enforcement, and no steps have been taken to revoke these licenses permanently.”

 

During the second quarter of 2022, a total of 23 Iowa breeders and brokers were cited for regulatory violations by the USDA. At that time, Missouri came in a distant second place for the number of violators, at 13.

 

According to the USDA, which posts its inspection reports online, and Bailing Out Benji, these Iowa businesses were cited for violations during the second quarter of 2022:

 

Carolyn Anderson of Anderson’s Yorkies, Mason City – During a July 19 visit, a USDA inspector cited Anderson for five noncritical violations and one critical violation. The citations pertained to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care, recordkeeping, animal housing facilities, watering, and the veterinary care that was provided for dogs.

 

The inspector reported that on June 22, a Yorkshire terrier named Asher was left outside for about 50 minutes and became overheated. The dog was brought inside and cooled with wet washcloths. Two days later, the dog was lethargic and shivering, then had a seizure and died. Later, when the veterinarian asked how the dog had become so overheated on June 22 when it was only 70 degrees outside, Anderson allegedly said the heat stress had occurred a few days earlier when it was hotter outside.

 

The inspector also noted that an indoor area where dogs are walked had “brown organic material buildup” covering half the floor and dogs had to walk “on the very edges of the walkway to avoid a soiled surface.” The inspector also found two adult dogs inside a wire crate with an empty, dry water bowl, and there were 19 dogs and puppies that were due, or overdue, for their vaccines.

 

During a subsequent visit on Aug. 22, USDA officials cited Anderson for one noncritical violation pertaining to recordkeeping. The inspector determined that there 12 dogs or puppies that were counted during the last inspection and were no longer at the kennel, apparently having been sold to people Anderson couldn’t identify. So far in 2022, Anderson has been cited for 38 USDA violations.

 

 This dog was photographed by a federal inspector during a 2021 visit to Henry Sommers’ Happy Puppy kennel in Cincinnati, Iowa. (USDA photo, courtesy of Bailing Out Benji)

 

Henry Sommers of Happy Puppy, Cincinnati – During an Aug. 16 visit, a USDA inspector cited Sommers for eight noncritical violations pertaining to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care; animal housing facilities; primary enclosures for animals; a lack of cleanliness, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control; and the veterinary care that was provided for dogs. The inspector reported that a female Yorkshire terrier had “numerous clumps” of feces matted in her hair, and another Yorkshire terrier was being treated with penicillin that had expired 17 months earlier.

 

 Dogs housed at a kennel owned by Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennel in West Point, Iowa. The photo was taken by a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector in 2021. (USDA photo courtesy of Bailing Out Benji)

 

The inspector also found four containers, all unlabeled, for medication given to the dogs. One container, containing a liquid heartworm medication, was contaminated, as evidenced by a dead house fly floating in the container. Also, one animal enclosure for two adult dogs had a large amount of feces stuck to a wire side panel, and the feces were dried and covered in “a white mold-like substance.” The inspector also noted that dogs were not being seen by a veterinarian at least once every 12 months as required.

USDA records show Sommers has sold puppies to at least one pet store in Nevada. Sommers was also cited for violations in the first and second quarters of 2022.

 

Loren Yoder, Riverside – During a Sept. 12 visit, a USDA official cited Yoder for one direct violation and six noncritical violations pertaining to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care, the method of animal identification, recordkeeping; animal housing facilities, primary enclosures, and feeding of the animals. The inspector noted that three dogs appeared to be seriously underweight, and yet Yoder was unaware of two of the dogs’ condition and none of the three had been evaluated by a veterinarian. The inspector also noted that only four dogs were listed on Yoder’s USDA form that documents the acquisition of every animal, but there were 91 dogs on site.

 

In addition, three outdoor enclosures housing 12 adult dogs had large holes in the ground just below the flooring. The holes were large enough for even the larger dogs to “fit their head and front legs below the flooring,” the inspector reported, creating the risk of injury should the floor collapse. During the inspection, four adult poodles were spotted running loose on the property and had to be rounded up and returned to their enclosure. Also, three outdoor enclosures that housed 14 adult dogs had caked dog food inside the self-feeding mechanisms. One of the self-feeders had cobwebs and dead insects inside of it, and a beetle was found in a chunk of dog food. Yoder was also cited for violations in the first and second quarters of 2022.

 

At the conclusion of the Sept 12 visit, Yoder “cancelled his USDA license, in writing, effective immediately,” the inspector reported.

 

Alicia Krogmann, Mount Vernon – During a July 6 visit, a USDA official cited Krogmann for three noncritical violations that pertained to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care, recordkeeping, and the veterinary care provided for dogs. The inspector reported that the lack of complete medical records made it difficult to determine whether the animals were receiving the vaccines, preventative medical procedures and treatments that were prescribed by a veterinarian. USDA records indicate Krogmann sells to at least one pet store that has locations in both Iowa and Illinois.

 

Alta Z Martin, Ionia – During an Aug. 2 visit, a USDA official cited Martin for nine separate violations related to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care, recordkeeping, animal housing facilities, and the veterinary care provided for dogs. The inspector noted that Martin had sold 35 dogs from a new location that had not been inspected and approved by the USDA. Also, an adult female dog was in need of veterinary care for bleeding gums and a loose tooth that moved easily when the inspector touched it.

 

In addition, there were several medications that had either expired years before or were stored improperly. Martin was also cited for inaccurate or incomplete animal-acquisition records that are used by the USDA to identify specific animals and track their sale. At the time of an Aug. 18 new-location inspection, Martin was cited for one violation pertaining to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care. During another new-location inspection on Aug. 30, Martin was cited for the same violation.

 

Brian Felton, Centerville – During an Aug. 9 visit, a USDA official cited Felton for one violation pertaining to the improper storage of dog food. USDA records indicate Felton sells puppies through at least one broker. Felton was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.

 

Edwin and Lucille Burkholder, Riceville – During a July 28 visit, a USDA official cited the Burkholders for eight noncritical violations pertaining to recordkeeping, animal housing facilities, lack of exercise for the dogs, and the veterinary care provided for the dogs. There inspector noted there were several surfaces, such as stairs and windowsills that had a “significant buildup” of cobwebs and dust, along with an accumulation of dead flies. In one empty dog kennel, the inspector noted “hundreds of dead flies.”

 

A male spaniel named Oliver had several areas of matted hair around his ears and feet, and one overgrown toenail had curled down below the toe pad, which would have made it painful to walk. In addition, the Burkholders had no distemper or parvovirus vaccination records for 16 dogs, and there were no records of rabies vaccines for 11 dogs. The Burkholders were also cited for violations in the second quarter of 2022.

 

Elliot Remick, Mount Pleasant – During an Aug. 15 visit, a USDA official cited Remick for one noncritical violation related to the performance of regulated activities without the appropriate USDA license. The inspector had determined that Remick had recently sold, without the required license, three Tibetan mastiffs to out-of-state buyers using a third-party transporter to deliver the dogs.

 

Heather Anderson, Farmington – During a July 13 visit, Anderson was cited for one noncritical violation pertaining to primary enclosures for animals. Three bichons were housed in a kennel that had an opening in the wall that was large enough for the dogs to stick their heads through it, creating a risk of injury.

 

Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennel, West Point – During an Aug. 17 visit, a USDA official cited Kruse for two noncritical violations pertaining to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care; and animal housing facilities.

 

The inspector noticed that that one dog wasn’t putting any weight on her right hind leg due to an open lesion on the pad of one toe. In addition, a female golden doodle that was unable to use her right front leg had two open lesions on the bottom of that foot. Two other dogs had diarrhea, with one exhibiting a grey discharge from her nose and another dog had a red growth between two toes, with an open lesion on its surface. The condition of the five dogs had not been noticed by Kruse and no treatments had been provided. Kruse was also cited for violations in the first and second quarters of 2022.

 

Ida Kauffman of Backyard Kennels, Hazelton – During an Aug. 16 visit, a USDA inspector cited Kauffman for eight noncritical violations pertaining to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care; recordkeeping; animal housing facilities, and sheltered housing facilities. The inspector reported that at least seven adult dogs had not received all of their prescribed medications, with Kauffman explaining that she had halted the administration of the drugs, without the approval of a veterinarian, once the dogs started looking better. The inspector also reported that at least 23 dogs were overdue for vaccines and 10 puppies were overdue for deworming. USDA records indicate Kauffman sells to puppy retailers and to a major puppy broker operating in at least four states. Kauffman was also cited for violations in the second quarter of 2022.

 

Lloyd Yoder of Meadow View Premier Puppies, aka Valley View Premium Puppies, of Riverside – After being cited for numerous violations earlier in 2022, Yoder canceled his license under the name Valley View Premium Puppies and established a new license under the name Meadow View Premier Puppies.

 

During a Sept. 12 visit to Meadow View Premier Puppies, a USDA official cited Yoder for two noncritical violations pertaining to recordkeeping and to a lack of cleanliness, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control. On the same day, Yoder’s Valleyview Premium Puppies was cited for one violation pertaining to recordkeeping.

 

During the Meadow View visit, the USDA inspector noted that significant buildup of “brown organic material” in one self-feeding mechanism. Yoder reportedly said he had cleaned the self-feeder that morning but did not clean the inside where the food is stored.

 

Yoder was cited for 21 violations in the first quarter of 2022.

 

Samuel Borntreger, Northwood – During a Sept. 7 visit, a USDA official cited Borntreger for six noncritical violations related to the attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care; the method of animal identification; recordkeeping; animal housing facilities; primary enclosures; and the veterinary care provided for dogs. The inspector noted that there were five piles of horse manure present in the dogs’ outdoor exercise area, and the outdoor enclosure for one dog and her three puppies had fecal material covering half the floor. The inspector also found that Borntreger was not following veterinarian-approved schedule for deworming of puppies. Borntreger was also cited for violations in the second quarter of 2022.

 

William Davenport, Thayer – During a July 26 visit, a USDA official was unable to conduct an inspection, with a “facility representative” stating there was no one available to accompany the official on an inspection. Davenport was cited for two violations pertaining to licensing requirements. The inspector reported that Davenport had moved all of the dogs from a different site listed in the USDA records to a new location that the USDA wasn’t informed of. The facility representative allegedly told the inspector the location of the current site had not been shared with the USDA because it would not have been able to pass an inspection. The representative stated there were 13 adult bulldogs and 15 puppies housed at the site, but an inspection could not be performed.

 

 

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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