I can always hear the barking as I approach. The closer I get, the more I can smell it and the more I dread what’s coming. Then I round the corner, and the cages appear. I know what to expect, but it never makes the sight less gut-wrenching. It’s a puppy mill — filled with terrified, filthy dogs, crammed into tiny pens, mass-producing puppies for the pet shop industry.
This particular investigation for CAPS took me to the Oklahoma puppy mill where Jake, the loving and sweet Cavalier King Charles from Jake’s Bucket List, spent his first six years – suffering. I was at Dwayne Hurliman’s puppy mill.
Dwayne Hurliman’s facility was massive, with twelve kennel buildings and additional outdoor pens. He claimed to have four or five hundred dogs, but after walking through the mill, it was clear the place held over a thousand.
In the whelping kennels, the tiny feet of puppies slipped through the cage floors. In other buildings, the dogs were too big for their cages (as per the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act), or the cages contained too many dogs. Some cages had feces mashed into them or were stained as if rarely cleaned. Other pens had days worth of animal waste piled beneath, over which the dogs were forced to live.
This is what I saw:
CAPS undercover investigation of Hurliman’s facility
Hurliman’s facility was licensed by the USDA, and when the USDA conducted their own inspections of it, they found even more problems:
Dogs with infected eyes. Dogs with cysts. Dogs with brown teeth, and gums so far receded that the roots of the teeth were exposed. The USDA found a dog with so much matted, debris-filled hair on her face that she couldn’t open one of her eyes.
They also found roaches in the dog food. Cages with sharp wire. Pools of sewage beside the buildings; fecal waste from one drainage pipe emptied right below the dog cages. Foot-high mounds of feces were below another kennel, covered in flies and causing a nauseating odor.
Hurliman told a USDA inspector that he cleaned out those accumulated piles of feces every six months. The rest of the time, the dogs just had to suffer above it.
In 2014, the USDA gave Hurliman an official enforcement warning for failing to provide adequate veterinary care for his dogs, but the violations repeated the following year. Hurliman’s breeding facility has spent the last two years on the “Horrible Hundred” list of America’s 100 worst puppy mills.
After my investigation, CAPS turned over our evidence on Hurliman to the USDA. Thankfully, Hurliman has since dropped his USDA license, so he can’t currently sell dogs to pet shops. And he appears to be auctioning off his dogs and either downsizing considerably or closing his breeding facility.
It is possible that Hurliman may still be planning to breed dogs with a state license and sell them directly to the public. We will keep monitoring him and send updates when we have them. In the meantime, please share our recent video, Jake’s Bucket List, to help spread awareness about puppy mills.
Jake’s Bucket List: The story of a dog who spent six years in a puppy mill
And remember — pet shop puppies, and puppies sold online, usually come from puppy mills. When adding a companion animal to your family, please adopt from a shelter or rescue organization.
Adopt, don’t shop.