The Planks are Mennonites. They operate a woodworking shop on their property as well as a kennel. Daniel Plank, a son, greeted us and gave us the tour of their facility.
He first took us to the small breed area. It was an outbuilding with double decker hutches built off both sides. The dogs accessed their den area inside the building through dog doors. This building housed all of the smaller breeds and also served as the whelping area. Each nursing or whelping female was not given additional space for each nursing puppy (3.6(c)(1)(ii)-Primary enclosures).
The property and surrounding grounds were overgrown with thick, tall weeds (3.11(c)- Housekeeping for premises). Old car batteries, dirty mops, plastic containers, and hoses littered the ground among the weeds around the hutch enclosures (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). A burn pile was approximately 10 feet from the hutches.
Some fecal accumulation was in the collection trays under the hutches. Fecal and hair accumulation was caked on the bottom grate of the primary enclosures (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
Daniels’s sister said that that they use a hose to spray the feces, hair and urine out of the collection trays (3.11(b)(3)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). The waste deposits right next to the hutches at the far end and was fertilizing the tall weeds. This method does not minimize contamination, disease and pests (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). In fact, the odor was awful, but not as awful as the thick swarms of flies that were biting us and the dogs, laying eggs and breeding in the feces (3.1(f )-Drainage and waste disposal).
A black male Poodle was on the bottom row of hutches, in the last enclosure on the end. He had a lot of missing fur and large sores on his face and back. The flies were biting the dog’s sores. Daniel stated that their Veterinarian said this dog may have mange or mites (2.40-Veterinary care) (3.7(e)-Compatible grouping). In the enclosure next to this dog were four Yorkshire Terriers that were overcrowded (3.6(a)(2)(xi)-Primary enclosures (3.6(c)(1)(i) Primary enclosures). These dogs had large open, red seeping sores on their shoulders, necks and backs. Flies were biting them (2.40).
The Yorkshire Terriers were separated from the contagious Poodle only by wire partition. (3.7)(e)-Compatible grouping). Daniel told me that the veterinarian thought the Poodles’ disease was contagious to humans and dogs. Although he was in a cage by himself, he was still in general population and could transmit his mites or mange to dogs in cages next to him. This was evident by the sores on other dogs.
Daniel offered to let us inside a building to show us some puppies. He entered the already open door to the shelter area. The temperature outside was approximately 85 degrees and humid. Daniel showed us the operating window unit air conditioner and stated that they try to keep the temperature inside at 80 degrees at all times (3.3(a)-Heating, cooling and temperature). The door to the indoor shelter area was standing wide open and swarms of flies were buzzing inside and out.
Despite the open door, a very apparent ammonia odor was present (3.3(b)-Ventilation). The open door did not provide sufficient ventilation for the well-being of the animals inside.
Flies, fly carcasses and dog kibble littered the linoleum floor where Daniel was standing (3.1(b)-Condition and site). He squished dead flies with every step. Fly carcasses were stuck to the fly strips hanging over our heads. Flies alive and dead were in the food, on the floors, on the walls and around cleaning products (3.11(d)-Pest control).
Cleaning supplies, rags, unlabeled bottles of liquid, a flashlight, medications with illegible labels, syringes, and needles were stored on top of the first enclosure inside the doorway on the left (3.1(b)). An unopened bag of dog food was on the floor. It was leaning against the front of the Scottish Terriers enclosure (3.1(e)-Storage). There was a lot of hair accumulation under the enclosures (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal).
A mother Shih Tzu was caring for her newborn puppies in an unsealed wooden box inside of her enclosure (3.3(e)(1)(iii)-Sheltered housing facilities). A white Poodle, with what appeared to be the same skin condition previously mentioned, was in the adjoining enclosure. According to Daniel, the Veterinarian said that humans or dogs could be contaminated (2.40 Vet care) (3.7(e)-Compatible grouping).
The white Poodle had red inflamed areas of skin that were missing hair. Tthe white Poodles kennel mate was a severely matted black Poodle that continuously scratched itself. (2.40 Vet care) (3.7(e)-Compatible grouping).
While Daniel was showing us puppies and quoting prices, Daniels father Paul Plank came rushing into the building. He grabbed the flashlight and peered into one of the top enclosures to check on a whelping Poodle. Mr. Plank needed the flashlight to see because of the very minimal lighting (3.3(c)-Lighting). The only light came from the open door.
On top of a large blue barrel in the walkway was a syringe with an unsealed needle. The needle was covered with flies and fly carcasses (2.40).
We didn’t see any type of identification on any of the dogs (2.50-Identification).
Paul’s sister had been carrying a sickly Yorkshire Terrier puppy around in her apron pocket. She showed the puppy to us and said that this puppy had “problems” with its health due to a vaccination reaction. The lethargic puppy was coated in its own urine; food was smeared around its face. The puppy’s eyes were cloudy and the pupils did not seem to react to light. The girl said that its eyes turned cloudy after they gave it a vaccination (2.40). Despite its obvious health problems, the Planks offered to sell us this puppy for 0. They told me that if we did not buy it, they would wait a little longer and ship it to a pet store.
Daniel offered to walk us down to the large dog area. But first we walked around to the other side of the outdoor portions of the hutch enclosures. We saw feces, tall weeds and flies (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises).
A very large Papillon, a poor specimen of the breed, had chewed a hole in the wire enclosure. This dog had its head protruding through the hole and the jagged, sharp points of wire posed injury (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Surfaces). Daniel crammed the dog’s head back through the jagged opening and made a very feeble attempt to bend the sharp wire points away from the dog. The dog went back to chewing and pulling at its enclosure. This dog quite possibly lacked the required six inches of head room (3.6(c)(1)(iii)-Primary enclosures). The partition between the Papillons enclosure and that of the Poodles was broken and in need of repair (3.6(a)(2)(ii)(iii)-Primary enclosures).
Next on the tour, Daniel walked us to the back of the property to see the chain link kennel area. with concrete flooring. As we walked away from the hutch enclosures, the flies dissipated. I knew that we were approaching the large chain link enclosures because of the flies. With each step toward these enclosures the swarm of flies became thicker. The flies were biting. I observed a jar flytrap as the only method of pest control (3.11(d)-Pest control). Tall, thick weeds and grass were overgrown around these enclosures (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). Blue tarps were stretched over the tops of the enclosures and an automatic water system was operating.
The concrete flooring in each enclosure had almost one-and-a-half weeks worth of fecal accumulation, urine, dog kibble and green algae from the water constantly dripping from the lick-it dispensers (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
A Rottweiler had fly covered open sores, at least the size of fifty cent pieces, on each ear (2.40). His fur was encrusted with feces (3.6(a)(2)(v)Primary enclosures). In the pen next to the Rottweiler, were two young adult Golden Retrievers. They were climbing and standing on their large metal self-feeder that was not properly secured (3.6(a)(2)(i)(iii) Primary enclosures).
In the enclosures to the right of the Goldens were three young German Shepherd puppies. They were lethargic, thin and had diarrhea (2.40). They were standing in excrement and spilled dog kibble and were covered in feces, and flies and fly bites (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). One puppy would not stand up and just lay there on the filthy concrete while covered in biting flies (2.40).
Daniel stated that they had purchased these puppies from another breeder. He also said that Rhonda Mandat drove the puppies to the Chicago-land area to pet stores. The Planks now use American Pet Registry, Inc. more so than AKC because of AKC’s stringent regulations.
Next to the German Shepherd puppies enclosure was another Rottweiler. This dog lived in the same filthy conditions as that of the puppies. The entry to the dog house was severely chewed (3.1(c)(2)-Surfaces) (3.4-Construction) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures) and lacked a roof (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements).
A mother Golden Retriever and her one young puppy were in a pen on the end. The chain link panel at the front of this enclosure had been chewed (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Surfaces). The puppy waddled and rolled around on the feces covered concrete (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
The mother’s mammary glands appeared to be drying up. She was extremely aggressive towards her puppy even when it wasn’t trying to nurse. At one point, she got up and slammed her front feet into the puppy. The puppy cried out. She acted annoyed every time the puppy came near her and. She knocked the puppy away (2.40). This mother dog ate feces from the concrete (2.40).
Across from the mother Golden Retriever and her puppy was male Golden also living in filth. He watched Daniel’s hands and feet. Next to him were several empty enclosures, yet they had fecal accumulation and were in need of cleaning (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
A new run-off drainage trough was at the end of the concrete. It looked as if it had not been used. When used, it will deposit the feces and debris just a few feet from the enclosures (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal).
The Plank facility, which received a license in May 2002, had a number of serious violations. Of paramount concern were the lack of veterinary care and the filthy conditions. Yet, Dr. Susan Kingston, VMO, found just one non-compliant item during her inspection on 1/17/03. She stated that the “inside hallway of the kennel area has an accumulation of materials, including tools and other unnecessary items. The hallway is also in need of being cleaned, as dirt and extra dog food has accumulated on the floor.”
She stated the following in a note:
Drainage problems at the facility have precluded the daily cleaning of the outside catch pans. Therefore, there is a large accumulation of feces on the pans. The drainage situation is actively being worked on and the pans must be cleaned as soon as possible. If the drainage problem cannot be corrected in the immediate future, a different method for the elimination of the waste material must be found.
Mr. Plank had installed a new drainage system but it wasn’t in use. During the CAPS investigation, it was obvious that the drainage pans were not being cleaned as soon as possible. Dr. Kingston should have noted the drainage problem as a violation and provided a correct-by date. Seven months elapsed between her inspection and the CAPS investigation. This is a longer period of time than “the immediate future.” Of course, Dr. Kingston hadn’t been back to the facility to see if the drainage problem had been corrected.