Breeder: Betty Mings (now Lawson)
Business name: Bet-Ter Kennel
Address: 7930 Hwy 95
City, State Zip: Mountain Grove, MO 65711
USDA License: 43-A-0516
Date of CAPS Investigation: 03/17/15
CAPS Investigation: 03/17/15
Breeds: Chihuahuas, Beagles, Poodles, Jack Russell Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Basset Hounds, Boggles, Rat Terriers, Cocker Spaniels (not seen), Mini Australian Shepherds (not see, Bulldogs (not seen), Bulldog crosses (not seen)
Approximate number of dogs at time of investigation: 86 dogs, 30 puppies
It should be noted that Mings’ kennel is located on the east side of Highway 95, north of highway JJ and a sign for “Green Mountain.” Driving north of Mountain Grove, MO, the address numbers rise and then drop back down, making Bet-Ter Kennel’s 7930 address north of an 8550 address.
Bet-Ter Kennel consisted of two sets of outdoor enclosures, north and south of Mings’ residence. There was a whelping room attached to the southern series of enclosures, and a whelping room located at the southern end of Betty’s house.
Betty Mings (Caucasian female, about 40 years old, 5’6”, 160 lbs., with shoulder-length dirty-blonde hair that is partially died pink) identified herself to me by name, and discussed her breeding business at length while showing me her kennel. She mentioned that she sells to two brokers and is unaware of what happens to her puppies after the brokers purchase them.
While observing dogs at the kennel, I met a person identified as a kennel worker. The worker told me to meet Betty at her other property located on the north side of highway JJ, the first property past the residence located at the northeast intersection off highway 95 and JJ. The property had a residence and several horses on it. Betty met with me and took me back to her kennel to give me full access to it.
Northern dog pens
The northern end of the property had three outdoor pens on the ground. The southernmost pen had a Beagle with bloody scabs on the dog’s right ear and nose (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate vet care). The dog was present when I went to the property at about 1100, but gone when I returned about 30 minutes later and the chain-link kennel door was ajar. North of the Beagle pen was an enclosure with a wooden flooring; the ceiling of this pen, along with the back wall and half of two sides, were made of wooden framing and metal panels, while the remainder of the two sides were made of galvanized wire. A chain-link run with a dirt flooring connected to this pen. Towels were scattered about the floorings, as were several plastic and metal dishes. Two plastic dog houses were in the enclosure, with no flaps or coverings on their entrances (Sec 3.4 Outdoor Housing Facilities (b) Shelter from the elements (3) wind breaks). Four short-haired dogs, each of about 15 pounds in weight, were in the enclosure. There was more than 24 hours of fecal accumulation on the towels and floorings of the enclosure (3.11 Cleaning, Sanitization, Housekeeping, and Pest Control (a) Cleaning of primary enclosures).
North of that pen was a Chihuahua enclosure, consisting of a wooden dog house on stilts, with a wooden ramp leading down to a dirt flooring surrounded by a galvanized wire wall with wooden framing. The pen held three Chihuahuas; there was more than 24 hours accumulation of feces (3.11 Cleaning, Sanitization, Housekeeping, and Pest Control (a) Cleaning of primary enclosures). There was an empty plastic water bowl on the dirt floor. The dog house had no covering over its entrance (Sec 3.4 Outdoor Housing Facilities (b) Shelter from the elements (3) wind breaks).
North of the Chihuahua pen were two, treated-wire cages elevated on wooden stilts. One cage held three small dogs, possibly shaved Poodles, each of about 15 pounds in weight, and a metal bucket. A wooden dog house attached to the cage had no covering on its entrance. Two piles of feces mixed with small rocks and dirt were outside of these cages near their fronts; these piles were about six inches high and two feet in diameter (3.11 Cleaning, Sanitization, Housekeeping, and Pest Control (c) Housekeeping for premises).
Southern dog pens
The southern part of the kennel consisted of a series of outdoor pens. At the western side, three outdoor pens with chain-link walls included plastic barrels for dog houses. One pen contained four small, shaved dogs that appeared to be Bichons or Poodles; another held three Beagles; and a third held a Bassett Hound. Three similar pens were at the north end of the area, just south of Betty’s house. These three pens each held two to three Beagles and Pugs and plastic barrels for dog houses. Torn, loosely-fitted blue tarps partially covered one wall and about a third of the top of one pen. Two Rat Terriers were nearby with a plastic dog house and plastic barrel in it for shelter. The barrel had a metal door attached to its entrance, the door partially open. None of the dog houses had coverings over their entrances (Sec 3.4 Outdoor Housing Facilities (b) Shelter from the elements (3) wind breaks).
The primary part at the southern end of the kennel consisted of about half a dozen dog runs enclosed in a metal shed, which was open at its eastern end. The dog runs were all on the ground. The back walls of these runs– the shed’s western side–had an opening about two feet tall at the bottom of the wall with a wire covering it; plastic barrels that served as dog houses were attached to the wire in all but two pens. These barrels had no covering on their entrances (Sec 3.4 Outdoor Housing Facilities (b) Shelter from the elements (3) wind breaks). However, two other pens had plastic dog houses in them with plastic doggie-doors on their entrances. Blue tarps covered part of the eastern wire walls of the pens. Two dogs of various small breeds were in each pen, with plastic and metal dishes–most empty–on the ground.
The barrels and dog houses in the pens had brown stains covering their surfaces, as did all of the metal and plastic bowls on the pen floorings (Sec 3.1 Housing Facilities, General (c) Surfaces (3) cleaning).
The southern end of this area had a whelping barn attached to it, with ten whelping cages inside. Four of these cages were made entirely of treated wire, with carpeting and towels set down to partially cover their floorings. Six cages had plastic walls, ceilings, and floors, with wooden and wire doors. The cages contained plastic and metal water dishes. Three nursing Beagle mothers and puppies were in plastic cages with heating lamps over them. One of the wire cages was occupied by a nursing Lhasa Apso and her two puppies; another held several Boggle puppies. Supplies, including a brush, a leash, a heat lamp, PVC piping, and a rag, were on top of the occupied wire cages (Sec 3.1 Housing Facilities, General (b) Condition and site).
When I entered the barn, Betty pointed underneath the closest bank of wire cages and said, “I’ve been killing mice here. They’re dead under there and they stink.” (Sec 3.1 Housing Facilities, General (b) Condition and site).
Whelping room attached to house
The southern part of the house on the kennel property was a whelping room with four banks of treated-wire cages containing nursing dogs and puppies, or litters of puppies. The room was also used for storage for kennel and horse supplies. The southern wall had eight wire cages along it, three containing nursing small dogs and their litters. One of these cages had a plastic food dish and bleach bottle on top of it. Two banks of three cages were elsewhere in the room, three containing nursing mothers and puppies. Two of the dogs had less than 12” of space from the tops of their heads to the tops of their cages, including a Rat Terrier and a small dog weighing about 15 pounds. The treated wire cages had plastic self-feeders and plastic or metal water dishes, as well as towels and/or plastic litter boxes for puppies. However, the wire floorings were not covered with towels. Two cages had supplies sitting on top of them, including a radio, a metal wire basket full of supplies, a weight scale, a cup, and a plastic dust pan (Sec 3.1 Housing Facilities, General (b) Condition and site).
An adult cat roamed free in the room, and at one point it laid on top of a wire cage containing two Rat Terrier puppies of about eight weeks of age. The ceiling sagged down about four inches into the cage when the cat laid on it (Sec 3.6 Primary Enclosures (a) General requirements (1) Primary enclosures must be structurally sound).
Statements made by Betty Mings regarding USDA and contradicting pet store claims
I asked Betty if her USDA inspector writes her up for every violation found, and she replied that if it’s an indirect violation not directly involving a dog’s body, the violation is verbally communicated but not included in the written inspection reports. She added that if she says she can fix an indirect violation, it will not appear on her record. However, judging by the number of violations at her kennel, it appears that fixing her indirect violations is not preventing her from committing them again.
Betty told me that her dogs have puppies every breeding cycle and added, “I got dogs nine to 10 years old, still have seven, eight puppies.” She also said that she breeds dogs for a specific appearance. She described in detail the physical features she requires in breeding Beagles and Cocker Spaniels. These statements contradict the claims by Shake-A-Paw (Hicksville, NY) that their breeders breed dogs every three years and that they breed dogs for health instead of appearances.