Breeder: Wanda Johnson
Business name: Wanda’s Lil’ Stars
Address: 905 S B Road
City, State, Zip: Doniphan, NE 68832
USDA License: 47-A-0568
Date of CAPS Investigation: 7/11/18
Time of CAPS Investigation: 12:16

Weather at time of investigation: 90°F and mostly sunny

Approximate number of dogs observed at time of investigation: 40 dogs, three puppies

Breeds: Chihuahuas, Huskies

The kennel consisted of three areas, one for Huskies, another for Chihuahua breeders, and a Chihuahua whelping room. The Husky area consisted of indoor/outdoor runs. The outdoor runs had chain link fencing. I only observed the Chihuahua areas closely.

Whelping Room
Jerry Johnson (Caucasian male, about 68 years old, 5’8”, 180 lbs, with white hair and glasses) showed me the Chihuahua whelping and breeding areas. The whelping room was in the Johnsons’ house, and had three wire cages with blankets on their floorings. One held a whelping mother and a single puppy that appeared to be a few days old. Another held a whelping mother and two puppies that were four days old. One of the puppies was emaciated and felt cold to the touch, and Jerry said he expected the puppy to die. He said Wanda was hand-feeding the puppy but mentioned no other medical treatment when I asked (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinarian care). The mother was missing her lower jaw, and Jerry said she broke it while in her breeding pen, and then it was removed. The third cage held two twelve-week old Chihuahua puppies.

Chihuahua Breeding Kennels
The Chihuahua breeder area was two structures that each had six indoor/outdoor pens, with three pens on the west and east sides. Outdoor pens had wire walls, with part of their floorings covered in what appeared to be rubber sheets; the rest had rocks over thin-gauge, uncoated wire flooring. The sheeting had fecal stains covering parts of them. One occupied pen had a thick layer of fur along flooring where it met the wire wall (3.11 Cleaning, Sanitization, Housekeeping, and Pest Control (b) (2) Sanitization). The ground below the raised flooring had a thick layer of fur and debris soaked and matted into the ground (3.11 Cleaning, Sanitization, Housekeeping, and Pest Control (c) Housekeeping). The indoor pens had wire walls with plastic floorings, food and water dishes, and plastic crates with the sides cut open for doorways, and rugs placed inside. There were plastic flaps in openings of walls to allow access between the indoor and outdoor runs.

Comments about USDA and State Inspectors
Wanda Johnson (Caucasian female, about 68 years old, 5’6”, 140 lbs, with long grey hair) told me that the kennel inspectors are harsh on them, and that dogs with bad teeth will cause them to be written up for violations. However, Jerry told me that their USDA inspector is very lax. He said that the inspector came in with a veterinarian once, and was very critical of the Johnsons’ operation. The inspector came back alone the next day and apologized to Wanda and talked to her for an hour at a picnic table on the property. He said the state inspector has been critical when with a veterinarian but otherwise is very lenient and likes to go to the kennel to “visit for hours” with the Johnsons. Jerry also said that someone is supposed to be checking dogs’ teeth regularly.

Despite Wanda and Jerry’s comments about dogs with bad teeth being a concern to inspectors, I saw the teeth of a 3.5-year old dog named Emma, whose teeth were set below reddened, swollen, recessed gums and were over 90% covered in a thick, hard brown substance that was about four times as thick as the teeth themselves. The only visible parts of her teeth were the tips of them sticking out ftom the brown buildup (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinarian care).

Jerry told me that Emma won’t go into heat, and so they wanted to sell her for $100. She ran from Jerry and me in her pen she shared with two other dogs, but Jerry eventually got her. She is a brown and white Chihuahua, appeared fearful. She scrambled her legs against us to not be held and was shaking constantly. Jerry showed me her teeth, and I saw they were covered in a thick layer of what appeared to be tartar, covering part of her gums and most of several teeth.

On 7/13/18, Emma saw a veterinarian in Iowa who said that her teeth were so infected that many would need to be removed. On 7/23/18, I took Emma to a veterinary dental specialist at Tufts Veterinary Emergency and Treatment Specialties in Walpole, MA. She said that her gums were recessed and inflamed, and 10-14 of her teeth were so infected they would have to be pulled. The veterinarian detected a heart murmur and said that Emma needed her heart checked before being put under anesthesia for dental surgery. An exam and echocardiogram with the cardiologist at Tufts on 7/27/18 revealed that Emma has a heart arrhythmia, resulting in an irregular heartbeat. The cardiologist cleared Emma for surgery, which she had on 8/2/18. The veterinary dental specialist extracted 18 teeth, did deep pocket cleaning, and repaired fistulas in the connection between the nose and mouth.

Emma is living in a foster home in Massachusetts, where she is being socialized. She is timid and has behavioral issues from living in a puppy mill. She gets along with the other dogs (Chihuahuas and Pugs) and has grown attached to her foster dad.

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