USDA Investigations in South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri: 2003
Grandma Basset: During a three-week investigation of USDA licensed facilities in South Dakota, CAPS rescued three Basset Hounds. CAPS obtained eight-year-old Grandma Basset because she no longer produced large enough litters. Mid America Basset Rescue found a wonderful home for this regal looking dog.
Mama Basset: The South Dakota puppy mill gave up Grandma's daughter, Mama Basset, because she produced a congenitally deformed puppy, Baby Basset. Mama has a permanent home thanks to Mid America Basset Rescue.
Baby Basset: Mama Basset's daughter, Baby Basset, has congenitally deformed elbows and will need surgery. She may have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which was possibly caused by untreated pneumonia. She will need specialized care at a veterinary teaching hospital. Baby Basset needs sponsors to cover her considerable medical expenses.
Grandma, Mama and Baby in the Rescue Vehicle:
Mid America Basset Rescue drove from Kansas City to South Dakota to pick up the three CAPS rescue dogs.
Buster: CAPS rescued Buster, a Pug puppy, during an investigation of Kansas and Missouri facilities that were selling to The New Zoo pet shop in Massachusetts. The puppy mill owner had placed Buster outdoors even though he had a "cold." Buster was initially diagnosed with pneumonia and then started having almost constant seizures. CAPS' rescue vet suspected distemper. Sadly, our vet had to euthanize Buster because he was so ill.
Shasta: CAPS rescued Shasta, a Huskie puppy, during our second investigation of the Poor facility in Missouri. Shasta, who was covered in dried urine and feces, had severe diarrhea. CAPS found numerous violations at this puppy mill just nine days after the USDA inspector failed to find a single non-compliance. Shasta is with a new family thanks to Illinois-based Homes for Huskies
Neiner: CAPS rescue vets treated this emaciated Chihuahua, who came from a Missouri puppy mill, for a frost-bitten penis, undescended testicles, urination problems, ear infections, bad teeth and alopecia. Neiner is in a long-term foster home.
Tiger: CAPS rescued Tiger, an emaciated pet shop reject, from a Missouri puppy mill. He had a healed fracture on his left hind leg and was born without a right hip socket. He had two surgeries for perforated intestines but ultimately succumbed to peritonitis.
Michael and Lisa Willey’s facility included an enclosed, single-story structure about 100 feet long with eight outside cages on one end. A layer of sheet metal was supported over the eight cages.
Four of those cages were made of aluminum that easily conducted heat (3.4(b)(1)-Shelter from the elements). These cages were raised about 3.5 feet above the ground on aluminum supports that ran underneath the cages. Each cage was about three feet tall, three feet long, and three feet wide and housed a single Chihuahua.
Plastic sheeting below the cages was partially stained brown (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) and had flies swarming around it (3.11(d)-Pest control). The back walls of the cages were splattered with feces in several areas (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures), most likely from water spraying the plastic sheeting below. A white, five-gallon plastic bucket near the far end of the aluminum cages was half-filled and encrusted with feces (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises).
Four other cages
The other four cages were made of wood and thick-gauge metal wire. Metal beams above and below the cages supported them about four feet above the ground. Each was about a foot tall, three feet wide, and three feet long with wooden two-by-four boards used on all corners and for cage doors about 1.5 feet long. Each housed a Chihuahua that lacked six inches of space from the top of their heads to the tops of their cages (3.6(c)(1)(iii)-Primary enclosures). The pen closest to the aluminum pens housed a black, long-haired Chihuahua that had a constant, hacking, raspy cough that sounded like that of a Bordatella infection (2.40-Vet Care).
The wood, wire, and metal beams of these cages were all painted white and the paint was peeling in many areas (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces), In several areas, one of which Mr. Willey pointed out, the wire and metal beams were rusting (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces). One cage had a wooden board resting against its wire side (3.1(b)-Condition and site). Like the aluminum cages, these had plastic sheeting below them to catch feces and debris.
More outdoor pens
There were about eight outdoor pens set on concrete floorings, each measuring about five feet wide and 10 feet long. They were made of wood, chain-link wire, and thick-gauge metal wire and housed one to two adult Akitas.
The pens had sheet-metal roofs with metal beams underneath supported by wooden posts at the pen corners. Each pen had wooden doors and wire sides and was separated from an adjacent pen by a wire wall. Each pen contained a wooden enclosure about three feet tall, three feet wide, and three feet long. These pens were not large enough for two Akitas to lie down in a normal position or turn about freely (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements).
The pens had plastic water containers on the floorings and metal food dishes set in metal holders attached to the wire walls about 18 inches from the ground. Two pens had thin plastic panels about five feet long and two feet wide leaning up against them on their side nearest the enclosed building (3.1(b)-Condition and site). There was a plastic igloo-type dog house and several kennel crates stacked near the outdoor pens, as well as weeds as tall as four feet growing in some areas (3.1(b)-Condition and site) (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises).
German Shepherd pens
The largest section of Linda Spies’ kennel consisted of about 15 pens with galvanized wire walls and dirt ground flooring covered with small rocks. Each pen was about ten to 15 feet wide, and 15 to 20 feet long, and about five to six feet high. Several of the pens each housed three 60-pound German Shepherds, while others each housed five to six 30-pound Beagles and one housed about five 12-pound Maltese.
All of the pens had metal self feeders attached to the insides wire walls and water dishes filled with brown, filthy water lying on the ground (3.10-Watering). Metal poles were set up at the corners of the pens, and two-by-four wooden boards running over the tops of several of them supported the wire walls. Spies demonstrated how he wires a foot-long untreated two-by-four wooden board, set on top of a feeder, to the pen wall to secure the lid of the self feeder. The rusty wire he used extended about a foot beyond the board and could easily stick through the pen wall (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Surfaces).
Feces was present on the rocks of all of the pens. In some pens, it was thick enough to nearly cover the rocks completely. It was apparent the pens had not been cleaned out in at least several days. Because feces was filling in gaps between most of the rocks in the pens, it is possible the pens had not been cleaned out in weeks (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). Rain had probably washed feces under the rocks
Two thirds of the outside walls of the pens were covered by tarps zip-tied to the pen wire walls. Several of the tarps were shredded or had large holes in them (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements). Wooden pallets were placed against many of the tarps on the outside of the pens.
A Maltese climbed up a cage wall. This wall was adjacent to a pen housing three German Shepherds. Maltese perched on the wire, six feet from the ground, unable to move. Spies threw a handful of small rocks at her from about forty feet away and yelled, “Get down from there!” (3.19(b)-Handling). The Maltese remained on the wire until Spies went over and picked her up by the scruff and dropped her about four and a half feet to the ground (3.19(b)-Handling). Later, the Maltese was in the pen with the German Shepherds (3.6(c)(2)-Compatibility).
Each pen contained one plastic dog house about three feet tall, three feet long, and about two feet wide. These pens were big enough to contain only one German Shepherd, two to three Beagles, or three to four Maltese at a time (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements). One pen containing several Beagles had a wooden dog house that was about two feet long, two feet wide, and three feet tall and a white plastic barrel about two feet in diameter and four feet long lying on the ground. The two enclosures would not allow all of the Beagles in the pen to fit inside them and lie in a normal manner or turn about freely (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements).
One pen containing several Beagles had a piece of tarp about ten feet long and four feet wide set over the top of it. The pen also had two untreated wooden boards wired to it and a fence at one end of the pen (3.1(a)-Structure; construction) (3.4(c)-Construction).
Whelping room indoor/outdoor pens
Spies turned a light on, just to the left of the doorway, as he entered the pitch-black whelping room (3.2(c)-Lighting). The whelping room was about 30 feet wide and 30 feet long with several cages at floor level against one wall, each of which had a doggie door leading to an outside cage.
The inside cages were each about 18 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches long and were made of wood painted white with untreated wire used on the cage doors.
These cages contained plastic water and feed dishes. There was sawdust, grass, and feces caked inside each cage (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). One cage held a Jack Russell Terrier mother and several puppies, which appeared to be only several days old judging by their size and how their eyes were not opened yet.
The outside cages were about 18 inches tall, 18 inches deep and about two feet wide. They were made of treated wire raised about five feet above the outside ground. Underneath these cages was a layer of feces and sawdust about 24 feet long, two feet wide, and up to three inches thick. Flies swarmed around the pile of feces that appeared to be present for at least several weeks (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) (3.11(d) Pest Control).
Whelping room indoor cages
Against a wall of the whelping room were eight treated-wire cages raised about five feet above the ground. Each cage was about two feet tall, two feet wide, and three feet long. One cage housed three ten-pound German Shepherd puppies (3.6(c)(1)(i)-Primary enclosures), and two each housed ten-pound German Shepherd puppies (3.6(c)(1)(i)-Primary enclosures).
All of these cages had plastic and metal dishes for food and water, as well as plastic self feeders wired to the walls low enough to be contaminated by feces (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Plastic sheeting the width of the cages was positioned about six inches below the cages and forwarded waste through the wall so that feces could be washed out of the whelping room. Feces stains covered the sheeting, and feces was caked and splattered all over the end of the sheeting that wrapped upward about six inches, indicating it is not regularly cleaned (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
In the middle of the room were three cages about two and a half feet long, two feet tall, and two feet wide, made of treated wire. These cages were raised about four feet above the ground. Each housed three 15-pound German Shepherd puppies (3.6(c)(1)(i)-Primary enclosures). Each cage had plastic and metal dishes for food and water, as well as plastic self feeders wired to the walls low enough to be defecated in by the puppies (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Plastic sheeting about six inches under the cages ran the length and width of the cages to a hole in the wall through which waste was flushed to an outside barrel. Each end of the plastic sheeting wrapped up about six inches along the two long sides of the cages so that the sheeting almost touched the curves of the cages. Feces stains were evident on top of the sheeting, and feces was caked and splattered over the ends of the sheeting that curved up towards the cages (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
The plastic sheeting under the wire cages joined together at a PVC pipe that exited through the corner of the building to a four foot-tall plastic barrel filled to the brim with feces, urine, and water and surrounded by a swarm of flies (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(d)-Pest Control). The barrel had no covering to stop rain from entering it and causing it to overflow (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal).
Another whelping room indoor/outdoor pen
A pen about four feet long, four feet wide, with a five-foot wire wall, was inside the building near where the sheeting led to the PVC piping. A doggie door led to an outside pen about five feet wide and 12 feet long. This pen had six-foot wire walls supported with six-foot metal poles. Inside this pen was a wooden ramp that gradually sloped about five feet up to the doggie door. The ramp was a few inches from the plastic barrel used to retain feces and urine (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). Two German Shepherds were in the outdoor pen.
Water and feed dishes sat on the flooring of the outside pen. The small gray rock flooring was covered in a thick layer of feces that appeared to have been present for weeks (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). The dishes were not placed so as to minimize contamination by excreta (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Divided outdoor pens
Between the whelping building and the German Shepherd enclosures were two pen about four and half feet long, two and a half feet wide, and two feet tall, standing about three feet above the ground on four wooden boards.
Each pen consisted of a box of untreated-wood, measuring two feet square (3.4(c)-Construction) and a connected enclosure made of untreated, thin-gauge wire (3.6(a)(2)(xii)-Primary enclosures).
The wood box section had an inch-thick layer of sawdust, grass, and feces on its flooring (3.11(b)(4)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). The wire section had wooden boards running along its corners. Square metal sheets covering two different areas of the wire served as partial windbreaks. The roof was made of untreated wood (3.4(c)-Construction). The wooden boxes and wire cages were separated by a wooden board with a doggie door at one end that allowed access between the two sections of the pen. Each enclosure housed five female Maltese. All of the Maltese had thick mats in their fur and feces caked in their fur (2.40-Vet Care). Both Maltese enclosures had a pile of feces about two and a half feet long, two and a half feet wide, and more than two inches thick under them (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
Near the wire cages were several outdoor pens. One pen measuring about ten feet wide, ten feet long, had five-foot-tall wire walls and housed three adult Shih Tzu with long, matted hair (2.40-Vet Care).
The wire of this pen was twisted and broken where it linked to six-foot-tall metal beams supporting the wire at the corners (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Structure). Wooden pallets were leaning against the outside of the pen on all sides (3.1(b)-Condition and site). Spies told me he used to the pallets to step into and out of the pens because none of the outdoor enclosures had any kind of doorway.
The pen contained a single dog house made of untreated wood (3.4(c)-Construction). A plastic food and water dish placed on the ground was subject to contamination by excreta (3.9(b)-Feeding). Similar to all of the other outdoor pens of the facility, thick feces was on the flooring. It appeared to have been washed down by rainwater and not cleaned in well over a week (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
At one point one Shih Tzu attacked another for several seconds. The Shih Tzu being attacked cried out the entire time, and Spies made no attempt to break up the fight. Instead he commented, “Yeah, he’s acting like a male dog. He’s whoopin’ ass.” (3.6(2)-Compatibility).
Adjacent to the Maltese pen described previously was a pen of the same size that contained four adult Miniature Pinschers. Five-foot-tall wire walls surrounded the pen, and wooden pallets were placed against the outside of the pen on all sides (3.1(b)-Condition and site). The flooring was made of small grey rocks, which was littered with feces (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). It looked like rain had washed the feces among the rocks. The flooring appeared to have not been cleaned in well over a week (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning). Water dishes were placed on the ground in a manner that did not minimize contamination by excreta (3.9(b)-Feeding) and a metal self feeder was wired to one of the wire walls of the pen.
A third outdoor pen was about 15 feet wide, 15 feet long, and surrounded on two sides by a five-foot-tall untreated-wire fence supported by six-foot-tall metal rods. The other two sides were contained by a wooden fence made of wooden beams about three inches wide and five feet tall. Wooden boards, about three feet long and two feet tall, were zip-tied against the outside of the walls near the ground. Four, 35-pound Beagles were inside the pen (3.1(a)-Structure; construction).
The flooring of this pen, made of small grey rocks, was littered with feces that appeared scattered by rain. The flooring appeared to have not been cleaned in well over a week (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning). Food and water dishes were lying on the ground in a manner which did not minimize their chance for contamination by excreta (3.9-Feeding) (3.10-Watering)
The Beagles were able to put their paws on top of the wire in one five foot section where the wire was bent down and inward so that it was only four feet tall (3.1(a)-Structure; construction) (3.1(c)(ii)-Surfaces). Near the corner of the wire walls was about 18 inches’ length of wire that was wrapped around the wire fencing. This wire was about three feet above the ground and had sharp ends protruding into the pen (3.1(c)(ii)-Surfaces).
The Beagles had a single dog house about three feet tall, three feet wide, and three feet long. It was made of untreated wood and had a doggie door at one end (3.4(c)-Construction). The Beagles could not all fit in the house at once and lie down in a normal manner or turn about freely (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements).
A fourth outdoor pen closer to the whelping building shared a 15-foot wire wall with the Beagle pen. It measured about five feet wide with five-foot-tall untreated-wire walls on three sides supported by six-foot-tall metal beams. The fourth (five-foot) side contained a wooden fence constructed as described above. This pen housed three, matted adult Lhasa Apsos (2.40-Vet Care).
The five-foot-long wire wall was missing a section of wire and was patched with a piece of treated wire about three feet tall and four feet long (3.1(a)-Structure; construction). The smaller wire had sharp points protruding from it where it met the wall common to the Beagle pen that could harm the Lhasa Apsos if they poked their snouts or paws into the corner of the pen (3.1(c)(ii)-Surfaces).
The gray rock flooring was littered with feces that appeared to have been scattered among the rocks by rain. The flooring appeared to have not been cleaned in well over a week (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning).
The pen contained a single dog house made of untreated wood and measured about three feet tall, three feet wide, and three feet long (3.4(c)-Construction). There was a doggie door on one side. Food and water dishes were placed on the ground of the pen in a manner that did not minimize contamination by excreta (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Adjacent to this pen and closer to the whelping building was a pen of the same dimensions and design as the Lhasa Apso pen. It was littered with broken wire, food and water dishes, and torn canvas (3.1(b)-Condition and site).
There were about four other pens, each about 15 feet long and 15 feet wide, on the end of the property about 200 feet from the whelping building but about 200 feet from the whelping building. Each pen contained two to three German Short-haired Pointers. The pens were surrounded by five-foot-tall untreated-wire walls with pieces of canvas and wooden pallets set against the outside of the walls (3.1(a)-Structure; construction).
Spies said he had several female Maltese that would not breed and offered me one for free. I returned on 8/29/04 to accept a five-year-old Maltese weighing 5.2 pounds. She had matted fur, baby teeth that had not been taken out, and excessive plaque build-up on her teeth (2.40-Vet Care).
Spies told me that he was a prophet, and that he frequently performed miracles on people. He told me he often did this over the phone, and would heal people of physical and emotional illnesses and cast demons out of people. Spies claimed he had two invisible 14 foot tall angels next to him at all times that he had seen turn people upside down. Three times as I talked to him he put his hand on my shoulder or head, put his face a foot away from mine, and blew into my face so that he was “blowing the holy spirit” into me. He would then throw his hands open palmed around my face and shoulders, saying he was taking evil spirits out of me put into me by Satan. He told me that he had blessed me and when I was leaving, he told me that he had blessed my car with angel gas so that it would get better mileage.
Spies said that he believed state inspectors should follow USDA guidelines but that they did not. His property is accessed by a driveway with a chained metal gate at its far end. He said he would consider a state inspector coming through the gate a trespasser. Spies further said he had warned state inspectors personally against trespassing.
Two Sundowner kennels
Larry and Cindy Hibbard’s facility consisted of several different kennels, two of which were Sundowner Kennels with indoor and outdoor cages about two feet long, two feet wide, and 18 inches tall connected with doggie-doors. Each kennel had about 24 cages, with two stacked rows of six cages each, on each side. Each cage housed two to three dogs.
The doggie-doors had feces and oil buildup on their surfaces (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.11(a)(2)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). The doors of the outside cages were made of untreated wire that was rusting, and the tops of several of the cages had rusting wire (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces). Wire near the back of a kennel was bent and protruding into the cage (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Surfaces).
Inside the kennels were lix-it systems for watering the dogs and plastic self feeders attached to the inside cage doors. These feeders were about 10 inches tall and filled to capacity with dog food, a quantity obviously too much for the dogs inside any of the cages to eat in one day (3.9(a)-Feeding).
Another facility near the property access road was about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide with a peaked roof and indoor/outdoor cages. The six outdoor cages were each about three feet tall, three feet wide, and three feet long and positioned over concrete flooring. The inside cages were about 30 inches tall, three feet wide, and three feet long. The doggie-doors connecting them had oil and feces buildup (3.11(a)(2)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). Each cage, made of untreated thick-gauge wire, contained two Australian Ridgebacks or Huskies.
Wooden boards were wired to the outside wire walls separating the pens in such a way that wires protruded into the pens (3.1(c)(1)(ii)-Surfaces). These boards had oil and feces residue covering them (3.11(a)(2)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) and were chewed and scratched so that chunks of them were missing (3.1(a)-Structure; construction). Plastic food containers were placed on the outside flooring of the pens (3.9(b)-Feeding).
First outdoor facility
Next to the indoor/outdoor kennel, away from the road, were three pens on concrete flooring, each about five feet wide and ten feet long, with walls about six feet high made of untreated, thick-gauge wire. Each pen housed three Australian Ridgebacks and contained a lix-it style watering system and a large plastic food dish placed on the concrete flooring in a manner that did not minimize contamination by excreta and pests (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Each pen also contained a single, plastic igloo-style dog house. They were not large enough for all three dogs in the pen to fit inside and lie down in a normal manner or turn about freely (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements. These pens did not have wind breaks on them (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements).
Next outdoor facility
The facility furthest from the road consisted of about a dozen outdoor pens on concrete flooring. These pens were about five feet wide and twenty feet long and had walls of thick-gauge wire about six feet high. These pens housed Beagles and Huskies
At the back of each pen was a wooden box, which had been created by placing wooden boards over wire. The wooden walls were torn, chewed, and scratched away in several areas (3.1(a)-Structure; construction). Metal sheets placed over the wooden roofing were covered in rust (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces).
Each of these pens contained metal buckets for water and plastic igloo-style dog houses. These dog houses were not large enough to allow all of the dogs in each pen to be inside at once and lie down in a normal manner or turn about freely (3.4(b)-Shelter from the elements). The dog houses had no wind breaks (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements).
The wire at the end of these pens, and at several other parts of this kennel, was rusting (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces). One of the pens housing several Beagles had a large web (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
Another indoor/outdoor kennel
The facility closest to the property access road was about 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. There were six outdoor cages on each side of the building, which were connected to indoor pens by doggie doors. The outside cages were over concrete flooring and made of wood and treated wire with untreated-wire doors (3.6(a)(2)(xii)-Primary enclosures). The doggie doors had oil and feces build-up on them (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.11(a)(2-Cleaning of primary enclosures). Chihuahuas and Dachshunds were running in and out of these cages.
A lix-it watering system was set up for the outside cages. A bleach container sat on top of one of the cages (3.1(e)-Storage). Plastic food dishes were set on the outside cage wire flooring (3.9(b)-Feeding).