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Investigations

View CAPS undercover investigation reports and videos of puppy mills and pet shops.

Reports / Videos

Models & CAPS

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USDA

USDA (5)

CAPS comment for USDA's proposed regulation of Internet breeders

Founded by President Deborah Howard in 1992, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills.  CAPS actively addresses the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance and pet industry employee relations.

Below are examples of investigations and outreach concerning the sale of puppies via the Internet. We are also including a chart that summarizes some of our complaints. CAPS has an online complaint form for purchasers of puppies, kittens and other animals.

Puppies Direct, Missouri

CAPS has been investigating online puppy sellers since the early days of the Internet. In 1998, we investigated Puppies Direct (Appendix A-1), a consortium of then current and former USDA-licensed Missouri-based (one Iowa) breeders led by Mickalyn Crawford in LaGrange. CAPS investigated Crawford in 1999 and 2001 and rescued several dogs from her facility, where we documented many AWA violations.

Crawford would only provide us with the first name of the breeders. However, we were able to figure out who they were. Most of these breeders still have USDA licenses. When we were investigating these breeders in 1998, Tammy Burchett and Joe McVeigh had dropped their USDA licenses. Burchett, who is now in Missouri, obtained another license in 2010. Joe McVeigh was charged with animal cruelty in 1998.

According to a December 1, 1997 USDA inspection report signed by Harold Becker, McVeigh had no non-compliant items. The Scotland County Sheriff's Department raided McVeigh's facility on January 20, 1998. Humane Society of Missouri employees and Mary Martin, an inspector from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA), went with two sheriff deputies. They found seven dead dogs on the property – all who had starved to death. There were cannibalized dogs and skeletal remains in the snow. McVeigh had more than 120 live dogs. The Humane Society of Missouri report stated that the ground under the raised wood and wire pens was saturated with urine and feces. There was about an inch of snow on the ground. There was no food or drinkable water in any of the pens. Some of the bowls contained frozen water.

In the fall of 1998, CAPS investigators visited Joe McVeigh's kennel in Memphis, MO. McVeigh was using hog panels to construct dog runs on the ground. The pens stood independently of each other and did not appear to be soundly constructed. One can disassemble and move these pens. Our investigators noted that McVeigh must move the pens periodically in lieu of proper cleaning and sanitizing. The watering containers were plastic buckets around five gallons in size. The water was not clean and potable. McVeigh allowed dogs to run freely on the property near the main highway. McVeigh remarked that he had been "raided by the Missouri Humane Society in early 1998."

http://www.caps-web.org/view-investigation-report.php?report_id=73

McVeigh had about a dozen dogs at the time of our investigation but had no federal or state license. Yet, he was selling puppies through Crawford’s Puppies Direct online business. Burchett appeared to be out of business.

CNN Story about Wizard of Claws


On May 11, 2006 CNN aired a lengthy segment entitled, “Sick Puppies Dog Some Online Purchasers.” In this story on Internet puppy sales, CNN Consumer Correspondent Greg Hunter interviewed CAPS President Deborah Howard, who addressed the issues involved with Internet puppy buying and showed video footage of puppy mills that sell to The Hunte Corporation, the largest puppy brokerage facility in the country. The story focused on Celebrity Kennels (aka Wizard of Claws) in Florida, which obtained many of their puppies from Hunte. Celebrity Kennels also sold puppies both through a strip mall storefront, where they showed puppies to consumers who sit in a waiting room, and over the internet. Just because pet shops and online sellers have celebrity customers doesn’t mean that these puppy merchants obtain puppies from reputable breeders. Wizard of Claws went out of business as the result of a consumer class action lawsuit.

Robin Schulder, Queens, NY

In 2007 and 2008, CAPS received a number of consumer complaints about Robin Schulder, who had several Internet puppy businesses selling various breeds, including one that sold expensive “guard dogs.” She also claimed to be running a rescue. See Daily News article and email correspondence between CAPS President Deborah Howard and Robin Schulder (Appendix A-2). We turned over these complaints to the Office of the New York Attorney General. Schulder was selling sick puppies and violating the New York lemon law. We also gave them undercover footage taken by a CAPS investigator who visited Robin in her home to look at puppies. She lived on a 2,000 sf lot; there was no evidence that she was breeding dogs herself, although she claimed to be a breeder of the dogs she was selling. See attached Petition by the State of New York dated January 6, 2010 (Appendix A-3), Stipulation of Settlement dated April 6, 2012 (Appendix A-4) and Order Authorizing the Stipulation of Settlement, etc. (Appendix A-5). Schulder filed for bankruptcy so it was only just recently that funds were released to the state to satisfy the settlement on behalf of the consumer plaintiffs.

North Country Kennels

CAPS also received several complaints about sick puppies sold by North Country Kennels (mixedbreedpups.com) in Ironton, MN. See attached CAPS fact sheet: Why You Shouldn’t Buy That Puppy in the Window (Appendix A-6). Because this Internet seller lives in Minnesota, which has no state licensing and inspection program, she never gets inspected. The site lists 17 types of “designer” small breed dogs and seven types of purebred dogs. One can only imagine how many breeding dogs she has on the property. On the FAQ page, she states that the facility is inspected – every two or three years by AKC.

Korean Teacup Puppy Dealers

CAPS has been investigating Internet sellers of Korean teacup puppies. We have complaints for two dealers: Ashley Anderson and Ginger Turk (Appendix A-7):

Boutique Teacup Puppies

http://www.mspuppyconnection.com/ and http://www.boutiqueteacuppuppies.com/

Ashley Anderson
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Relocated from Mississippi to Las Vegas in April. Only her personal Facebook account is visible: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Ashleynanderson82
888-743-0325
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

See CAPS complaint for Nichole Casper in Boston area who bought a puppy that died of parvovirus. Broker was Jung Puppy Club (see below).

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is investigating Anderson’s previous online dog businesses.

Beverly Hills Teacups

http://www.beverlyhillsteacups.com/
Ginger Turk
Folsom, CA

Formerly Once Upon A Teapup. She is using a different name, probably because the other company was involved in a fraud complaint, forging signature of a vet. Ginger forged her vet’s name to CVIs, resulting in her being charged with forgery in CA. Ginger was previously using Jung Puppy Club, which may be associated with Victory Puppy Club.

Other CAPS Complaints from Internet Customers

See attached chart summarizing some of our complaints (Appendix A-8).

Internet Sellers Acting as Brokers Without a Federal License

Critters and Pets, a San Clemente-based online seller of puppies illegally brokered to I Heart Puppies in Corona del Mar, California (now out of business). They did no breeding and instead obtained dogs from USDA-licensed facilities in the Midwest, such as Barb Crick in Nebraska 47-A-0426, who is under investigation by APHIS. We filed a report with Dr. Gerald Rushin in July 2011. We can no longer find a website for them.

http://www.caps-web.org/index.php?option=com_wordpress&;tag=critters-and-pets

Judy Hulett sells to individuals via a website but also brokers to Puppy Town in Sarasota without a license; there are no CVIs filed with Florida Department of Agriculture.

Name: Hulett, Judy
URL: janddkennels.com
Address: 91 Pittman Farm Rd
City: Rhine
County: 
State: GA
Zip: 31077

Recommendations

While complaints filed with CAPS about sick puppies from pet shops still outnumber Internet puppy complaints, this may change as more municipalities pass ordinances banning the sale of pet shop puppies/kittens and some pet shops offer adoption animals only. Some Internet breeders or sellers have a USDA and/or state license while others, such as North Country Kennels, aren’t subject to any government licensing or inspection. That is why it is imperative that USDA/APHIS implement a regulation that closes a loophole that has allowed breeders and brokers to sell dogs and cats sight unseen over the Internet or via the phone or mail without being subject to federal licensing and inspection. Websites that have numerous breeders selling puppies, such as Next Day Pets, Terrific Pets and Puppy Find, will need to be monitored. We are glad to hear that companies and individuals that broker (no breeding at all) to individuals via the Internet will also be covered.

Over the years, we have investigated individuals, such as Wendy Laymon (previously in Washington but moved to Missouri due to numerous legal problems and serving time in WA) who sold puppies through newspaper ads. These individuals did no breeding and instead obtained puppies from commercial breeding facilities, mostly USDA-licensed, in the Midwest. Those who sell through newspapers should also be covered, whether they are breeding themselves and have at least five breeding females or are obtaining puppies and other animals from other sources. People who sell through newspapers typically meet prospective customers in a parking lot. Wendy met customers in McDonald’s and WalMart lots. The customers saw just one puppy and could not see the conditions in which these puppies lived.

Wendy Laymon lost her USDA license for three years effective April 2009 and now sells online:

www.frenchiepuppies.com
http://www.dm.usda.gov/oaljdecisions/090403_AWA-08-0089.pdf

http://www.paws.org/wendy-laymon-puppy-mills.html

Friday, 11 November 2011 17:21

USDA

Written by

USDA

Office of Inspector General Issues Scathing Report on USDA's Puppy Mill Inspection Program

Get the PDF at: http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33002-4-SF.pdf

The Office of Inspector General for USDA has released a scathing 69 page report for an audit and investigation conducted between 2006 and 2008.  This audit/investigation was prompted by a May 2006 meeting between OIG officials, CAPS and Crowell & Moring attorneys, who provide pro bono counsel and lobbying to CAPS.

In 2006, the Office of Inspector General requested a meeting with CAPS. The OIG never meets with citizens or nonprofits (they turned down our first request), so this must have been based on our in-depth investigations of hundreds of puppy mills where we document Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations and compare our findings to those of the USDA APHIS inspectors.

During a two hour meeting in May 2006, CAPS President Deborah Howard and CAPS attorneys/lobbyists Edward Green and David Ross met with two OIG officials. At this meeting, we discussed a long list of concerns and recommended necessary changes.

After that meeting, our lobbyists did not get a reply from OIG. The reason was that shortly after our meeting, the OIG commenced an investigation and audit, which ended in 2008.

All of the issues we covered in the meeting are in the report. In fact, the OIG report reads more like a CAPS investigation report (they included graphic photos, which is what we use in addition to undercover footage) than the usual dry government type OIG report. USDA officials, of course, are now saying they are going to make sweeping changes, and congressmen are calling for the same. CAPS has been meeting with congressional aides and USDA officials for more than eight years in an attempt to get oversight hearings and changes to the AWA.

CAPS will continue to cooperate with USDA while conducting ongoing oversight of the Animal Care inspection program.  Since 1995, CAPS has been to approximately 1,000 commercial dog breeders and brokers, most of them federally licensed.

The USDA has been very negligent in its enforcement of AWA regulations with respect to commercial dog breeders and brokers.  USDA APHIS/Animal Care uses inspectors, including veterinarians, to conduct "unannounced" inspections of federally licensed dog breeders and brokers who supply puppies to the pet shop industry.

For a good summary of the OIG report, read this article on the Animal Folks (run by CAPS Advisory Board member Ann Olson) website.

http://www.animalfolksmn.org/news-recent.html

USDA Inspection Photos

Click on any image.

USDA Proposes to Regulate Internet Sellers

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:05

USDA Investigation - Spring 1999

Written by

USDA Investigation - Spring 1999

Suzie

Suzie: She was bred incessantly by Mickalyn Crawford (43-A-2488) and had numerous uterine tumors. Suzie found a home with a kind woman in Iowa.

Mandy

Mandy: She came from the Crawford facility in Missouri and has genetically deformed kneecaps. Mandy has a home with an elderly woman in Iowa who had knee replacement surgery.

Frog

Frog:Ed Van Doorn (42-B-0090), an Iowa broker, sold her to a CAPS investigator because she had a scratched retina. Frog lives with a family in Iowa

Marina

Marina: A Petland customer returned her after five months because of luxating patellas and shallow hip sockets. She was back with Steve and Susan Steele (42-B-0159) in Iowa. Thanks to Paws & Claws, a no-kill shelter in Rochester, Minnesota, Marina has a wonderful home. She has had two successful patella surgeries.

Scout

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.

USDA's Failure to Enforce the Animal Welfare Act

The USDA has been extremely negligent over the years in its enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) as it pertains to commercial dog breeders and brokers. CAPS has been investigating this problem since 1995. In some instances, we have investigated facilities the day after or before a USDA inspector found no violations. CAPS investigators found numerous non-compliant items. Falsifying an inspection report is a federal felony.

Under the U.S. Criminal Code, it is a federal felony for a government employee to falsify a federal document, such as a USDA inspection report. It is also illegal for government officials to knowingly use fraudulent federal documents, as top-level USDA officials have allegedly been doing, to prepare required annual reports to Congress. Falsification of records, conspiracy to falsify records, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government are federal felony crimes punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine.

USDA officials like to emphasize the word "minimum" with respect to animal care standards. Sadly, USDA is not even enforcing the minimum standards. Because USDA continues to make excuses for its failure to enforce the AWA, congressional oversight hearings are an absolute necessity.

CAPS and its pro bono lobbyists have been meeting with members of congress to present the findings from our investigations of numerous USDA licensed facilities. CAPS is requesting oversight hearings on the USDA's failure to enforce the AWA, advocating changes to the AWA and recommending new policies regarding the actions of USDA inspectors.

To keep building our case against the USDA and its failure to enforce the AWA, CAPS' evidentiary findings must stay current. We must demonstrate that this disregard of the AWA is pervasive throughout USDA's AHPS/Animal Care and not just a question of a few bad inspectors. Thus, it is essential that CAPS continue its in-depth investigations of USDA licensed facilities. Investigations - we also rescue puppy mill dogs as evidence of the cruelties being committed at these facilities - are costly.

Below is a white paper prepared by Crowell & Moring, CAPS' pro bono lobbyists in Washington DC. It outlines CAPS concerns about the USDA's failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act and lists some suggested solutions. We provide this white paper (with attached Poor, Lorton and Wee investigation reports) to congressional aides prior to meeting with them.

The Animal Welfare Act Needs Strengthening and the USDA's Administration of the Act Must be Overhauled.

As the only national organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is committed to ending the abuse and suffering of puppy mill dogs. Since 1995, CAPS has investigated over 100 puppy mills, with our most recent puppy mill investigations having been conducted in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. Further, CAPS works closely with the media, and has generated stories with "Dateline," "20/20," "Hardcopy," and magazines such as Life, People, and the Readers' Digest, as well as television stations in Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere.

Based on our years of investigative experience, CAPS has concluded that although the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) gives the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the power to license, inspect and regulate breeders and brokers who deal in dogs for commercial purposes, the USDA's implementation of AWA has been grievously insufficient - fulfilling neither the letter nor the intent of the AWA.

Sadly, the problems we have identified are not new. In a March 1992 report, the USDA's independent Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) could not ensure the humane care and treatment of animals as required by the AWA. Indeed, in a subsequent January 1995 report, the OIG, recommended new legislation to strengthen and enhance APHIS' authority.

CAPS believes strongly that the time has come to fix these problems once and for all, and we urge the Congress to take the actions necessary - including oversight of the USDA's activities and enactment of remedial legislation - to achieve this goal. A brief summary of our concerns and some suggested solutions are set forth below.

Summary of Concerns

Importantly, although some improvements in the USDA's regulations are warranted, the larger problem is that the USDA is simply not enforcing them adequately. The USDA's rules (see generally, 9 CFR Parts 1-4), are too often ignored, not only by those who are regulated, but also by the regulators themselves. Thus, although the USDA's rules establish fundamental standards intended to provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and other animals, unfortunately, as CAPS finds repeatedly in our field investigations, the standards for housing, ventilation, lighting, interior surfaces, primary enclosures, sanitation, pest controls, feeding and watering, outside shelter, compatibility, adequate veterinary care, and handling are, in all too many cases, being ignored. Complete copies of our field investigations are available upon request. Simply put either through omission, misfeasance, and (we fear) in some cases, even malfeasance, the USDA is not getting the job done. CAPS urges Congress to act swiftly to remedy the systemic failures we have identified.

Suggested Solutions

We question whether the USDA is even institutionally capable of adequately implementing the puppy mill protection provisions of the AWA. Thus, we believe the appropriate congressional committees should conduct prompt and vigorous oversight of the USDA's management of this program with the following questions in mind:

  • Does APHIS have sufficient funding and personnel to carry out its statutory mission?
  • Does APHIS have the requisite management and training structures in place to fulfill its mission?
  • Are APHIS inspectors qualified and properly trained to do the job?
    In addition, and at a minimum, the Congress should strengthen the AWA to:
  • require mandatory semiannual unannounced inspections of each licensee's facility, and mandatory reinspections, within thirty days, of any facilities where violations of USDA's standards and regulations have been found, to ensure they are corrected in a timely fashion;
  • require mandatory unannounced inspections of facilities at which licenses are not renewed by the licensee no later than two months from the expiration date of such license;
  • punish through imprisonment or fine (or both) any person who gives advance notice of any unannounced AWA inspection;
  • provide a mechanism to allow representatives of animal welfare organizations to file written complaints regarding licensed facilities, including the right of such representatives to accompany APHIS inspectors as they inspect licensees' facilities in response to such complaints;
  • require mandatory suspension of dealer licenses if cited violations of USDA's standards have not been corrected in a timely fashion;
  • require mandatory revocation of dealer licenses if the dealer is found to be in serious violation of AWA regulations or standards (e.g., lack of food or water, adequate veterinary care) during any three mandatory inspections (See S. 1478/H.R. 3058, the Puppy Protection Act of 2001);
  • provide for mandatory unannounced inspections of facilities at which licenses are suspended or revoked, within two weeks of such suspension or revocation, to ensure that dogs are not being sold; and
  • prohibit the use of gunshot as a form of euthanasia, the conduct of Cesarean sections by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian, and the weaning of animals before six weeks of age.

CAPS believe that prompt and vigorous congressional oversight of the USDA and strengthening of the AWA, as outlined above are essential. CAPS is working to achieve these goals.

Please write the following USDA officials and ask them to enforce the Animal Welfare Act as it pertains to federally licensed dog breeding and brokering facilities and to implement the above solutions suggested by CAPS.

Ms. Gregory Parham
Adminstrator
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Inspection Service
Room 312-E, Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC  20250
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mr. Kevin Shea
Associate Adminstrator
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Inspection Service
Room 312-E, Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC  20250
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Chester A. Gipson
Deputy Administrator of Animal Care
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal Plant and Inspection Service
USDA-APHIS-AC, Rm. 2D13
4700 River Road, Unit 97
Riverdale, MD  20737
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mr. Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC  20250

Ms. Kathleen A. Merrigan
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC  20250
(awaiting congressional approval)

List of USDA licensed breeders and brokers:
www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/publications.html

Look under Facility Lists and then Dealers. "A" dealers are breeders and "B" dealers are brokers. Breeders raise animals for resale to brokers. Brokers then transport and sell these animals directly to pet shops. They may also breed.

Bea's Beat

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Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard

Learn more about Deborah Howard, president and founder of Companion Animal Protection Society.

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Contact Us

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Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS)
759 CJC Hwy., #332
Cohasset, MA 02025
p: 339-309-0272
501 (c)(3) Tax ID#: 58-2040413

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Class Action Lawsuits

scales of justice

If you purchased a sick or dying puppy from Barkworks or Happiness is Pets, you may be able to join consumer class action lawsuits. The first step is to fill out the CAPS complaint form.

Read more about Happiness is Pets or Barkworks.

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