All About Puppies
7190 Ulmerton Rd
Largo, FL 33771
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 08/20/21; 1232
Approximate number of puppies observed at time of investigation: 40 puppies
There were about 25 pens, each containing one to two puppies, in the store. The wire pens were set on the ground, with shredded paper set several inches thick on the pens’ solid plastic floorings. Pens had automatic waterers, and cards on their walls noting puppies’ breeds, store identification numbers, and breeders’ names, towns and states, and USDA license numbers, as required by the Largo pet shop ordinance. Large pictures on the walls showed dogs in grassy yards, playing with people and toys.
I spoke to an employee (Caucasian male, about 45 years old, 5’8″, 250 lbs., with short greying brown hair, and a short moustache and beard) about breeding conditions for the puppies. The employee told me he had worked at the store for five years, and said that puppies come from out of state because they have to be USDA and state certified, adding that if breeders have major violations the store drops them. He said breeders are “all families.” I asked, “So, do you know like, are the dogs in cages, or are they like in pens.” He responded, “Sometimes they are like in cages, but most of them are gonna’ be in the house. You know what I mean?” I asked, “Most of them are in the house?” He said, “Yeah,” and then pointed to pictures of dogs in yards on the wall.
I asked, “Now do you know anything about, like, how long they breed the dogs, or how many dogs they have?” He responded, “Some of them will give that information out. I know some of them are like two or three litters of puppies, I think, or something. I really don’t know all the details. They have like one of the girls from one of the stores that go and talk with the breeders, and stuff like that. They’re more in touch with that. But yeah, they’re not, they’re not mass-producing. You know what I mean. Just, boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. You know what I mean? Another thing is, when you start having puppy mill dogs, and this and that, you start having a lot of health issues.” I then asked, “And they’re USDA, right?” He said, “Yes,” and added, “If they’re overbred, they’ll start having like heart murmurs, this and this, a lot of health issues. You know what I mean?”
The employee told me that we could look up the last four years of inspection reports for breeders to verify if they have violations, and he said that if there’s major violations for a breeder the store can’t use them. I asked for breeder info and inspection reports on a specific puppy, and the employee showed me a packet of info on Sandra and John Blake in Louisburg, MO, USDA license 43-A-6311. I was shown inspection reports for the Blakes for 2018 and 2019, and told that COVID likely messed up access to more recent reports.
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store
The employee’s claim that “most of them are in the house” is not accurate. CAPS has investigated more than 1,000 puppy and kitten mills, most of them USDA-licensed. In my 18 years with CAPS, I have been to more than 800 of these facilities. Almost all breeding dogs and puppies are kept in kennels, not homes.
The employee’s claim that the breeders that sell to All About Puppies are not mass-producing is false. To maximize profits, commercial breeders breed female dogs on every heat, which is usually two times a year (some dogs skip a cycle). Mother dogs are usually bred on their first heat. Breeders typically kill mother dogs who are no longer fertile or producing small litters. Some puppy mills do give unwanted breeding stock to rescue organizations. CAPS has rescued some of these dogs during investigations.
Breeder and broker information obtained during store investigation
Carroll Bailey, Goodman, MO, 43-B-3609, 31 adults and 37 puppies at 4/1/21 USDA inspection (Bailey appears to be breeding his own dogs and brokering dogs for other breeders)
Carroll and Danny Bailey owned Puppy Ridge, a notorious brokerage facility we featured on the one hour report we did with “Dateline” in 2000. A couple who transported puppies came forward to us to complain about driving a van without heat and having to treat sick puppies while on the road. Dateline interviewed them. Employees also spoke to us about horrific conditions at the facility. One young man was ordered to shoot dogs the Baileys no longer wanted.
It’s A Dog’s Life, “Dateline,” April 2000
Lorilee Thomas (Puppies Extraordinaire)., Whiting, KS 48-B-0329, 679 dogs and 379 puppies at 10/18/19 USDA inspection (most recent listed).
USDA photos of Thomas’ facility in 2013
Sandra Blake (SanJon Kennel), Louisburg, MO, 43-B-3785 (pre-license inspection 5/15/18), 14 puppies at 4/9/19 USDA inspection. “Three Pomsky puppies were housed in an enclosure that was too small for them.” Eight puppies at 12/7/20 USDA inspection
John Blake, Louisburg, MO, 43-A-6311 (pre-license inspection 5/14/18), 105 dogs at 12/7/20 USDA inspection
Sandy Blake is a well-known broker who contradicted claims by pet shops investigated by CAPS that the pet shops visit breeders and brokers. The B (brokers) license, formerly 43-B-3515, is now in her name only; the A license is under her husband’s name. The Blakes used to breed and broker under the B license. It appears that Sandy is brokering under the B license while John is breeding under the A license and selling puppies to his wife, although it is doubtful that any money changes hands.
Sandy and John Blake investigation report and video
John Blaes, Cherryvale, KS, 48-A-2142, 167 dogs and 80 puppies at 1/5/21 USDA inspection
Scott Wheatcraft & Gaynetta Snyder, Browning, MO, 43-A-5792, 125 dogs and 78 puppies at 8/13/20 USDA inspection
Larry and Yvette Bolz, Olpe, KS, 48-A-1582, 121 dogs and 21 puppies at 6/15/21 USDA inspection
Breeder and broker information obtained from February 2020 Certificates of Veterinary Inspections
Ruthie Snodgrass, Asbury, MO, 43-A-0799, 170 dogs and 25 puppies at 4/6/21 USDA inspection
Lorilee Thomas (see above)
John Blaes (see above)
Sandy Blake, Sanjon Kennels (see above)
Breeder and broker information obtained from 2017 Certificates of Veterinary Inspections
Pinnacle Pet (Sobrad, LLC), Neosho, 43-B-3750. Pinnacle Pet is broker that obtains puppies from mills to resell to pet shops. The breeders that have sold to them include Marlin Bontrager in Missouri, Menno Yoder in Ohio and Irene Phillips in Kansas.
Bontrager’s USDA violations include dogs in enclosures registering 90 degrees F, beetles in feces, fecal accumulation, and grime on whelping enclosures. Yoder’s violations include gum disease in numerous dogs, excessively long nails, accumulation of stains and grime around drains and wash downs. Phillips’ violations include exposed screws and sharp points, broken and protruding wires, chewed and worn enclosures, lack of wind/rain breaks, rusty metal and rotting wood.
City of Largo regulatory ordinance effective 9/7/21
The City of Largo passed a regulatory ordinance on 9/7/21, effective immediately (shortly after this investigation), that grandfathered in the two existing pet shops: Sunshine Puppies and All about Puppies. The law requires pet shops to buy puppies only from USDA licensed breeders and brokers; those that also have a state license must also be in good standing. Breeder and broker names, USDA number, cities and states must be posted on or in close proximity to the cages. USDA inspection reports must be readily available. The store must have a poster stating that breeder information and USDA inspection reports are available.
Lack of USDA violations
The fact that few breeders and brokers have USDA violations does not mean that none exist. During our undercover investigation of USDA-licensed facilities, we document violations. USDA has made it very easy for licenses not to have violations. In response to regulatory ordinances, USDA started using teachable moments, self-inspections and a trial announced inspection program. Their recent guidelines also instructed inspectors not to cite ear, eye and dental diseases as veterinary care violations (this requirement was recently changed back). It is for these reasons that USDA Animal Welfare Act violations have significantly decreased.