I called Mr. Harries to make an appointment. When we arrived, we were greeted by a very old German Shepherd and a small black Poodle. Mr. Harries said that these two dogs were his pets. His wife allowed the Poodle in the house, but not the old German Shepherd. Mr. Harries stated that he has been waiting for the old dog to die and figured the dog won’t live through the winter.
I could see a new sheltered housing building from where I was parked. Shih Tzus, Pugs and Pug crosses were kept there. The enclosures were chain link and concrete with den areas in a large garage type building. The dogs accessed their dens through dog doors. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the dogs were walking through their own excrement. There was a lot of fecal accumulation in this area. In their excrement, the dogs flung feces off of their paws and onto me. Mr. Harries said that he hadn’t had time to clean out their kennels lately (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). As he was making excuses for his laziness, the little black house pet Poodle ran over to the kennels and started fence fighting with the dogs kept there. The dogs in the kennels snarled and flung feces on the black Poodle. Mr. Harries grabbed her and was upset that the kennel dogs had gotten her dirty. She had just had a bath and his wife would be furious. He took her into the house, wiped her off and left her there.
When Mr. Harries returned, he offered us the tour of his facility. His facility was a maze of buildings and outbuildings. They all contained dogs.
The first building was both sheltered and indoor housing combined. It held only the larger dogs like Labradors and Golden Retrievers. They had access to outdoor pens, while the other dogs like Shiba Inus, Shelties and some mixed breeds lived in very dimly lit (3.2(c)-Indoor Housing facilities, Lighting) filthy enclosures with no access to outside. This area was dark, dank and smelled horribly of ammonia and feces (3.3(b)-Ventilation). The dogs were matted and dirty (2.40-Veterinary care). Their primary enclosures were filthy – feces was everywhere (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). The dogs appeared indifferent to our presence. A few growled and retreated to the back of their enclosures.
Water and food dishes consisted of chewed Tupperware, other chewed plastic buckets and metal containers (3.9(b)-Feeding). Open dog food bags sat on the floor near one of the walls (3.1(e)-Storage of Food). Hair and cobwebs accumulated everywhere (3.1(b)-Condition and site).
The larger dogs that had access to outside runs were in pretty rough shape. All of them needed grooming or bathing (2.40-Veterinary care). I saw several three-legged dogs. Mr. Harries said that they had had accidents, but offered no further explanation. There were also one-eyed dogs. He gave the same explanation as before. Then, I noticed a female yellow Lab whose collar had grown into her neck. Mr. Harries said that he had to peel the collar out of her skin. This left an open wound all the way around her neck. Now, she was wearing a new chain collar over the open wound. The wound was so bad that you could see blood and open flesh and puss (2.40). Yet, he did not take her to a vet and stated that he had no plans to do so. He said that his USDA inspector was a vet and she had seen the collar and was the one that helped him remove it. The inspector had no problem with it. He also stated that she had been there approximately two weeks ago. This dog needed immediate treatment and some stitches to close the open wound (2.40).
A chocolate Lab in a pen near this wounded yellow Lab had a very inflamed eye. Red flesh was protruding from the dogs eye socket and she could barely close her eye (2.40). It looked very painful. Mr. Harries said it would go away and to not worry about it. A Shiba Inu across from the chocolate Lab had a lot of missing hair from his hind end area. The skin in this area was red and scaly (2.40). The other Shiba Inus in this enclosure were actually eating this particular dog’s tail! They had chewed it to a bloody nub. Mr. Harries just chuckled and said that they were playing. The dog kept backing into corners, smearing blood on the walls, trying to get away from the other dogs that were attacking him viciously. The dogs needed to be separated. Obviously, they were not compatible (3.7(b)-Compatible grouping) and needed vet treatment (2.40).
This entire first kennel area was like a maze. Dogs in kennels and enclosures were around every dimly lit corner.
As I was leaving this first building, I saw six Siberian Huskies (white with typical black markings) with no ears! Their ears had been chewed off and they had many scars. Some were lame and missing tips of their tails (2.40). These were not old dogs – approximately only three to four years old. They were aggressive with each other to the point of needing separation. Mr. Harries said that these dogs all grew up together and that they were only playing when they attacked, mangled and disfigured each other (3.7(b)-Compatible grouping). Next, Mr. Harries led us to the first whelping building. Before I entered, I could see at least four inches of fecal accumulation under the outdoor portion of the whelping building (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). As I entered the building, the stench and smell of ammonia burned my eyes and nose. I noticed condensation on the walls and ceiling. The ventilation in this area was very compromised (3.3(b)-Sheltered housing facilities, Ventilation). The floors, walls and cages had feces smeared on them (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) (3.11(b)(2)- Sanitization of primary enclosures). Flies were swarming. Old fly strips hung from wires with thousands of dead fly carcasses stuck to them (3.11(d)-Pest control).
I looked down closer at the floor and noticed puddles and streams of urine draining from under the dog enclosures (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). Some of this urine was reddish in color and some puddles had dried into a sticky, hairy mess infested with flies that were drinking, eating and laying eggs. The dirt, filth, urine, feces, fly and hair accumulation and strong ammonia odor was shameful and disgusting!
More than whelping dogs were kept in this building. This building also helped house Mr. Harries’ small breed dogs. The whelping bitches and smaller breeds were kept in built up crudely made hutches with chewed, scratched wood (3.1(c)(2)-Surfaces) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). Some had access to the outside. Most of the dogs were coughing and lethargic with discharge coming from their eyes (2.40-Veterinary care).
The cage with access to the outside, that had the pile of feces, was home to ten Bichon Frises. One of them was Sasha, the dog later rescued by CAPS. The dogs were severely overcrowded and filthy (3.6(a)(2)(xi)-Primary enclosures). One Bichon was missing an eye. Mr. Harries did not know how the dog lost its eye – another accident (2.40). He said that this group of dogs was to be auctioned off to another breeding farm next week. A man would come and pick them up along with some of Mr. Harries unwanted larger mixed breeds. Next to the overcrowded Bichons were some shaggy Schnauzers (2.40). Above the Schnauzers were a mother Dachshund and her very young pups. The mother could open her own cage and she did so while I was standing there (3.6(a)(ii)(iii)-Primary enclosures). Mr. Harries said to watch and she might roll one of her pups out the door to fall. She did exactly what he said. She pushed the pup with her nose to the cage opening and down the pup went, but this time Mr. Harries caught the little pup. He allowed us to examine it. It was sticky, smelled of urine and feces and in general, did not look healthy (2.40). The mother Dachshund was severely disturbed mentally (2.40). As far as I am concerned, so is Mr. Harries.
The dogs and pups in this building were having difficulty walking on the wire flooring. Their feet were passing through the wire floor and seemed to cause them a great deal of discomfort. This was evident by their reluctance to step on the wire and the sores on their legs and feet (3.6(a)(2)(x)-Primary enclosures).
The plastic food and water containers were chewed. The metal dishes were rusty (3.11(b)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). Some dogs had no food or water (3.9)-Feeding).
It appeared that there had been little or no maintenance or up-keep in this building for quite some time (3.1(c)(3)-Housing facilities-Surfaces).
Next, we took a look at some very large dogs kept in pens in a pole barn. Breeds here included a Newfoundland mix, Huskies, Samoyeds, Labs and some very aggressive Saint Bernards. The pens had over 48 hours of fecal accumulation (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). They also had improper shelter (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements). The shelters were inconsistent with USDA regulations. They were made from scraps of wood (3.1(a)-Structure; construction) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). The shelters had large holes. Some shelters had only two sides and a piece of wood for a roof. They had dirt floors. No bedding was present despite the fact that one side of this building was open and exposed to the elements (3.4(b)(4)-Shelter from the elements) (3.6(a)(s)(vi)-Primary enclosures). There were not enough shelters for all dogs to fit into (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements). Some dogs had no shelter at all (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements). There were too many Labs for one pen (3.6(a)(2)(xi)-Primary enclosures).
The fencing sections were connected with rope and wire. They moved when the dogs jumped against it (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). The fencing was rusty with bird droppings everywhere. Food was spilled and the water was green (3.9-Watering). The Saint Bernards were extremely aggressive and charged at the side of their pen, growling and snarling at me. They eyed me warily (2.40).
Mr. Harries said some of these dogs would be sold along with the Bichon Frises. He did not say for what use.
In this area, I again noted a consistent problem. Many of the dogs here were scarred, missing lips and tips of their ears. They were overcrowded and aggressive to the point of mutilating each other. The Siberian Huskies kept in this area were unsocialized and afraid to approach me. When I approached their pens, they tucked their tails and put their ears flat on the heads. They skulked away to a far corner and just crouched there watching me (2.40).
Since it was cold outside, we headed for the last whelping building. It was the last building on the tour of the facility. This building did not have any windows. Mr. Harries opened the door and turned on the lights. The dogs and pups had been in complete darkness (3.3(c)-Sheltered housing facilities, Lighting). When I entered this building, the ammonia burned my eyes and nose. There was not anyway to ventilate this building. He didn’t have any windows as stated above or a ventilation system installed (3.2(b)-Indoor housing facilities, Ventilation). I wanted to run back outside to breath. Each side of this building had cages running along the walls with a narrow walkway down the middle. The floor of the walkway had urine puddles, feces, food (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) and a green hose on it (3.1(b)-Condition and site).
The first cage inside to the right contained a mother Husky and her puppies. For the most part, their cage was covered and smeared with greenish diarrhea, (2.40) (3.6(a)(2)(v)-Primary enclosures). The puppies were crusted with this diarrhea and the mother was partially covered. One of her little red and white pups had very cloudy eyes and appeared to be blind (2.40). It didn’t play with the other pups. It just sat in the diarrhea tilting its head back and forth listening and trying to locate me by my voice. Yet, it would not approach me. I asked Mr. Harries about the pup and he said, “Nothing is wrong with it” and walked off talking about other dogs.
Directly across from the mother Husky and her pups was a young Lhasa Apso. The dog acted strange. It would only take a few tiny steps, then stand with his head hanging, just listening. I called to Mr. Harries and asked him about he Lhasa Apso (2.40). He told me that the dog was blind and that several dogs produced from the parents had the same problem. He said that I could have the dog. This is “Job” that CAPS rescued. Job really needed a bath. His hair was crusted with urine and feces. He acted as if he had never been handled. But, soothing words and gentle touch helped him relax. After a short while, he decided that positive attention was a pretty good thing.
Next to Job were a black Schnauzer and her newborn pups. I had to stare at the pups awhile before I decided if they were even alive. They were very lethargic and the mother looked unhealthy. Her hair was falling out. It appeared that she was having enough trouble keeping herself alive and healthy, let alone caring for her litter of pups (2.40). Mr. Harries did not show concern over any of these dogs. In fact, he was just plain cocky. He said that Rochester Humane Society had been out to his place on two separate occasions and no charges were ever filed. He believed that no charges were filed because he is a friend of the sheriff that accompanied the representatives from this Humane Society. And, he further boasted that even his USDA inspector had not one problem with him or his farm. Both the USDA inspector and the sheriff defended him to the Humane Society. Now, that is quite a story! I replied to the effect that one can never have too many friends and he agreed with that statement.
It was time to wrap up this investigation. So, I gathered Sasha and Job into the vehicle. I paid Mr. Harries and he stated that there would be no need to fill out forms because he had ways to fake USDA records (2.75(a)(2)(ix)-Identification). We shook hands and he said to come back anytime.
Sasha and Job recuperated at Paws-n-Claws, the no kill shelter in Rochester, Minnesota. Both have been placed in excellent homes and have better lives now. During the 6/8/00 inspection, Catherine Hovancsak, found a 3.4(b) violation because the new dog pens in the pole barn didn’t have a shelter structure. She claimed on her 3/5/01 inspection report that Mr. Harries had corrected this problem. It didn’t seem to us that he had corrected this problem because the shelters were made of scraps of wood that didn’t fit together properly. There were large holes and dirt floors. The enclosures were too small to accommodate all of the dogs comfortably.
Dr. Hovancsak found four non-compliances during her 3/5/01 inspection. The correct-by date for the four open bags of food in the kennel (3.1(e)) was 3/7/01. Mr. Harries had not corrected this problem by the time of our visit. He also had a 3.3(b) violations for a strong ammonia odors in the whelping building and part of the sheltered adult kennel building. She also cited Mr. Harries for not having any ventilation system in the new sheltered building. The correct-by date was 7/5/01. He had not corrected these violations by the time of our inspection. In addition, the accumulation of feces of the south side of the outside runs of the sheltered housing facilities (3.11(a)-Cleaning) was still very much present even though Dr. Hovancsak instructed Mr. Harries to correct this problem as soon as the feces was no longer frozen. He had spring, summer and fall to clean the fecal accumulation. Finally, Mr. Harries received a 2.75(a)(2) violation for 14 adult dogs that were not listed on an APHIS form. Mr. Harries didn’t fill out paperwork for the disposition of the two dogs that we rescued.
Dr. Hovancsak’s 10/11/01 inspection report listed just three violations: identification (2.50), recordkeeping (2.75) and shelter from the elements (3.4(b)) for five pens in the pole barn without shelter structures. She claimed that he had corrected all of the non-compliances from the 3/5/01 inspection although there was no evidence of these corrections on 10/29/01, the date of the CAPS investigation.
In conclusion, we were able to find many more non-compliances than Dr. Hovancsak. The lack of veterinary care is especially disturbing.