15 Iowa puppy mills cited in Humane Society’s annual report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited a kennel run by Linda, Bethany and Stanley Korver in Orange City with 22 violations in 2023. The issues included dirty and unsafe conditions as well as inadequate veterinary care. (Photo by USDA officials, courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States)

The Humane Society of the United States has released its annual “Horrible Hundred” report cataloging regulatory issues at 100 puppy mills nationwide, including 15 located in Iowa.

The report is based on the findings of state and government inspectors. For the 12th year in a row, Missouri has the largest number of breeders in the report, followed by Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“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.”

The report also highlights practices at breeding operations endorsed by, or tied to, the American Kennel Club. The HSUS reports that Iowa breeder Patti Kowitz, who has appeared on the AKC’s Marketplace website, failed three state inspections in a row, and her kennel was found to have strong odors and dirty, cluttered conditions, with one person caring for about 60 dogs.

The HSUS report includes this analysis of the violations state and federal inspectors found at Iowa breeders in recent years:

Larry Albrecht of Coldwater Kennel, Greene — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Albrecht for violations in each of the past four years. His 2024 license renewal was delayed due to unsanitary and unsafe conditions. Earlier this month, state inspectors reported finding a Yorkshire terrier in need of veterinary attention due to the loss of hair on its tail, hind end and all four feet. The facility had 280 dogs at the time. Albrecht received an official warning from the USDA in 2021 for leaving a dog in poor dental health, with issues such as loose teeth and bleeding gums. Albrecht was cited for a similar issue in 2017.

Helene Hamrick of Wolf Point Kennel, Ackworth – This facility was cited for veterinary care violations at four different inspections between 2023 and early 2024. Issues found during the late-2023 inspections included a dog with an injured toe pad; a dog with a head tilt and signs of an ear infection; a puppy with an eye condition; and another dog with significant “hot spots” indicating a skin condition in need of treatment. Inspectors also found unsafe and dirty conditions. In February 2024, a USDA inspector found some dogs that were so badly matted that they had fecal material “twisted into the matts.”

Freeman P. Helmuth of Sunrise Kennels, Corydon – In 2023, violations were cited during a state inspection and two USDA inspections. In April 2023, the USDA found a pug puppy suffering from “poor eye health,” with its left eye “sealed shut by dry, yellow-colored discharge.” In addition, the puppy’s right eye was “completely cloudy.” The USDA also noted that the puppy had not been evaluated by a veterinarian and was not receiving any treatment. There were about 90 dogs and puppies on the property at the time. When the USDA returned in November 2023, inspectors found evidence of rodent activity. Sunrise Kennels has sold puppies to at least two Petland stores in recent years, according to the HSUS.

Bruce Hooyer of JKLM Farm, aka Shaggy Hill Farm, Sioux Center — State inspectors who visited JKLM Farm in March 2024 found a variety of violations that indicated ongoing sanitation issues. They noted a strong smell in the whelping building, a buildup of feces underneath the flooring of some kennels and excessive rust.  Inspectors also made note of the fact that the business’ most recent veterinary inspection forms dated back to 2022.

In March 2023, state inspectors noted concerns about the number of dogs at the kennel, stating it was “a tremendous amount of work for two people” to take care of 125 dogs, and that the number of dogs had been increasing. Inspectors have also noted that several dogs and puppies died at the business in 2017 and 2018.

Connie and Harold Johnson of Fur Babies Forever, formerly CW’s Quaint Critters, Melvin — During a September 2023 state inspection, Fur Babies Forever was found to have rust peeling and flaking from some of the kennels. When inspectors returned later that same month, they were denied entry – a repeat violation. Fur Babies Forever and its corporate predecessor have a history of denying inspectors entry, and when inspectors do get in, they typically find violations. The HSUS states that “the kennel is still licensed by the state, but still often dodges inspections.”

Linda, Bethany and Stanley Korver, Orange City — During USDA inspections in February and May 2023, the inspectors cited this business for a total of 22 violations. Nine of the violations found in May 2023 were repeat violations that had not been corrected from the previous inspection, including dirty and unsafe conditions, poor record-keeping related to puppies, and accumulations of cobwebs, dust, debris and feces. All 27 adult dogs were lacking proof of veterinary examinations and rabies vaccines, according to the inspectors. Past issues at the facility include a lethargic and thin dog found in 2016 that was so malnourished that inspectors could see her ribs and hip bones.

Patti Kowitz of Tannin Border Collies, aka Wapsi River Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, Calamus — After inspectors were twice unable to gain entry Tannin Border Collies, the business failed four consecutive inspections in 2023 and early 2024. Inspectors noted an odor, which they described as strong or excessive, on three occasions. During one of the visits, inspectors found a dog with an untreated paw injury or growth that was later determined to be cancerous.

During a January 2024 visit, the business was cited for dirty, cluttered and smelly conditions, with the inspector writing that “the conditions of the facility indicate current number of dogs may be too high for one individual to care for.” There were almost 60 dogs and puppies on the property at the time. In November 2023, inspectors found a shivering dog without sufficient shelter from the cold.

Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennel, West Point – This breeding operation, one of Iowa’s largest, was subject to a 21-day USDA license suspension in March 2023. State inspectors also found violations in the second half of 2023, citing the business for strong odors, the lack of solid resting surfaces for dogs and unsanitary conditions. A September 2023 state inspection report made note of a limping dog and the fact that dogs were not being removed from their enclosures when the staff pressure-washed the facilities.

At least 199 dogs were euthanized at the facility in 2021 after Kruse exchanged dogs with another Iowa operator, Daniel Gingerich, whose license was revoked that year. The HSUS says it “continues to have grave concerns about the dogs in Stonehenge Kennel.”

Heath “Rex” Meyers of Century Farm Puppies, Grundy Center – This breeder, who has had as many as 240 dogs at any given time, was the subject of numerous citations for violations in 2023 and early 2024. In January 2024, a USDA inspector cited the business for two repeat violations — one for a veterinary care issue and one for unsanitary conditions.

In August 2023, USDA inspectors inquired about the use of a controlled substance that had been provided by veterinarian without its use being properly documented. It appeared the substance may have been used to kill dogs, with USDA inspectors noting that when they asked about the fate of 26 adult dogs whose names were crossed off records, Meyers said they were “likely euthanized.”

Additionally, inspectors noted that the facility was performing its own dental cleanings and some types of dental extractions. In 2023, the business was cited for dogs in need of veterinary care, wire flooring that could trap the dogs’ paws, poorly groomed dogs and a lack of space for dogs to exercise.

Joel Paris of Paris Puppies Paradise, Ogden – This business is still in operation, despite the fact that almost 100 dogs were rescued from the property in late 2023. Those dogs were reported to be underweight and living in feces. Paris was fined $2,600 for animal neglect resulting in death and injury, but still appears to be selling dogs online, the HSUS reported. Some of the business’ more recent violations have been for denying inspectors’ access to the building, a violation that has been cited at Paris Puppies Paradise 23 times in the past decade.

Wuanita Swedlund of Cantril – This dealer was forced to downsize after multiple puppies died in the cold. One puppy went missing and was presumed to have been eaten by its mother. Another puppy had to be euthanized after his leg was chewed off by fully grown dog. In the winter of 2023-2024, Iowa officials began working with Swedlund to reduce the size of her kennel from 159 dogs to 30 dogs.

According to inspectors, dogs are regularly transported between Swedlund’s facility and Steve Kruse’s Stonehenge Kennels. Swedlund received an official warning from the USDA in January 2024, but incurred several additional violations in February 2024, with inspectors noting she did not have enough employees to properly care for so many dogs.

Ed Van Doorn of Squaw Creek Kennels, Barnes City — In November 2023, the USDA cited this business for performing major do-it-yourself surgical procedures on puppies without veterinary supervision. The operations, inspectors reported, were performed inside “a multi-use room used for grooming, surgeries, and other procedures, using the licensee’s own equipment and instruments.”

In December 2023, the USDA gave Van Doorn an official warning for falsifying health certificates, but as of April 2024, it appears no fines or penalties were imposed for the do-it-yourself surgeries. In January 2024, state and USDA inspectors found additional violations at Squaw Creek Kennels, after which Van Doorn canceled his USDA license. As of April 16, however, he was still licensed by the state and appeared to be selling puppies on his website.

Dennis and Donna Van Wyk of Prairie Lane Kennel, New Sharon – In January 2024, inspectors found some of the dogs at this kennel did not have adequate protection from the cold. They also cited the business for the repeat violation of excessive feces, with inspectors reporting there was so much excrement the dogs had trampled it. The Van Wyks admitted the enclosures had not been cleaned in three days, the inspectors reported.

In December 2023, USDA inspectors reported dogs and puppies that were exposed to “an excessive buildup of feces,” with half the floor of one dog enclosure covered in feces and puppies sitting in the excrement. In addition, three puppies had no access to water.

Charles Vogl of SCW Frenchies, Atlantic – In December 2023, state inspectors found a strong odor of ammonia and waste, along with an excessive among of feces, at SCW Frenchies. During the same visit, inspectors also found unsafe structures, trash and clutter. The inspector noted that it seemed “several days” were passing without feces being removed from some areas.

Terry Yoder of BR’s Dobermans, Riverside — During a January 2024 inspection, state inspectors found several violations at BR’s Dobermans, including holes in the wood floor of one building that allowed “animals to fall through to the outside,” excessive trash and clutter, and mouse feces that were found “on all surfaces throughout the facility.” Inspectors also reported that all of the indoor enclosures were “coated in dirt, hair, feces and grime,” noting that they had not “been sanitized for an extended period of time.” Veterinary records were not complete, with no proof of distemper or parvovirus vaccines for many of the adult dogs.

When state inspectors returned in February 2024, they reported Yoder refused them entry, stating that he still had not repaired the buildings and “had not cleaned in at least 36 hours.” Inspectors returned in late February and again in March, and they cited the business for numerous violations, including clutter, grime, odors and the lack of a disease control and prevention program.

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