45 Tarrytown Road
White Plains, NY 10607
Date and time of investigation: Thursday, November 19, 2020; 3:33 pm
Number of dogs observed at time of investigation: 40-50 puppies, 2 cats
NY Breeder consists of three rooms. The first one, as you enter, has a sales desk in the middle and a wall of puppies in the back and on the right. The enclosures are built into the walls, two and three on top of each other. The enclosures have glass fronts, wire backs, and wire bottoms. I did not see resting pads in the cages. There were approximately two to four puppies in each cage. The second room, to the right of the entryway, contains pet merchandise and three stalls where customers can interact with the puppies individually. There is a third, smaller room that contains more merchandise to the immediate left of the main entrance. I saw a cage containing 2 cats in the back right corner of the main room.
I saw a sign on the wall in the back right corner of the main room, about 7’ high and to the right of the cage containing cats, that read “Information on the source of these dogs and cats and veterinary treatments received by these dogs and cats is available for review by prospective purchasers.” This signage is required as per New York GBS Article 35-D §753-B 4. I did not see signage stating that United States Department of Agriculture inspection reports were available to customers upon request. Posting of this signage is not required in Westchester County.
I asked to see Yorkshire Terriers. An employee (named Kwame, African American male, 6’ tall, 170 pounds, wearing a Covid mask) showed me two Yorkie female puppies. I asked where they were from and he replied (video 1/2; 4:36) “They come from USDA approved breeders. The specific information is in their file.” Later (22:32), when I again asked the employee, “Where do these guys come from? What can you tell me about their breeders? What should I know in terms of their history?” He replied, “Okay, in regards to the breeders, we get all of our puppies from USDA approved breeders, which means that they have to be checked by the state. So we don’t do puppy mills or anything like that. Like they have to have like certain certifications in order for us to do business.”
The employee’s statement is false and/or misleading for four reasons. First, NY Breeder does not get its puppies solely from USDA breeders. In Westchester County, there is no ordinance stating that puppies sold in pet shops must come from USDA breeders. Puppies sold in pet shops may come from USDA licensed breeders, or they may come from hobby breeders if sold through a USDA licensed broker. Second, the employee’s statement is false because even if a puppy is bred by a USDA certified breeder, that does not “mean that they have to be checked by the state”. Rather, it means that they must be inspected annually by a field inspector for the USDA APHIS, a Federal agency charged with overseeing the Animal Welfare Act. Third, the employee’s statement is misleading because USDA breeders are not “approved”, but rather licensed. There is no such qualification as an “approved” USDA dog breeder, just ones that are licensed and as such are regulated and inspected by the USDA.
Furthermore, the employee’s statements are false and misleading because, as CAPS’ research shows, NY Breeder has sourced puppies from breeding facilities that the average consumer would indeed consider puppy mills. For example, CAPS investigated the breeding facility of USDA certified breeder Larry Albrecht of Greene, IA, whose most recent USDA inspection report dated 10-9-2019 documented 319 dogs on premises. During CAPS’ three separate investigations of Albrecht’s operation, CAPS’ investigator documented typical puppy mill conditions and numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (CAPS Investigations of Larry Albrecht/Coldwater Kennels). These included small wire cages containing multiple dogs with no room to run or play; cages suspended above ground with wire flooring and fecal accumulations below; indoor kennels with little light; mother dogs housed in whelping boxes with no view of their surroundings; outdoor cages with minimal shelter from the elements; cages with rusty wire; and rough handling of puppies.
When I asked the employee what a puppy mill was (video 1/2; 22:15), he replied “Puppy mills are like mass breeders and they don’t really get checked by anybody, so like you know a lot of people have complaints about that. We avoid that just because we take the quality of our pets seriously.” The employee’s statement that puppy mills don’t get checked by anybody is false and misleading, as puppy mills are typically large-scale breeding operations which must, by law, if they have more than four female breeding dogs, be inspected annually by the USDA if they are selling puppies sight unseen to pet shops.
Later (video 2/2; 0:43), I asked “What do I need to know about their breeder? Am I able to Google their breeder?” The employee replied “Once you purchase the dog, we have all the breeder information, so if you want to take the time to contact them and ask them questions, you can.” I replied, “But only after I buy the dog?” He replied, “Yeah, because we can’t just give you the paperwork, you know, because it’s like their information. It’s like their information. It’s like giving you like another human’s medical records.” But it should be noted that immediately after this statement, the employee offered, “We could show you it.”
Shortly thereafter (6:56), when I asked the employee if the store knew the mother dogs, he replied, “No, I do not. Because we deal with a large volume of dogs. Sometimes the breeder will have that information inside the folder. I’m not sure if they have it for them. I can check.” He left, then returned a moment later (8:50) with a folder of paperwork for the puppy we were looking at. He showed me the microchip documentation, Missouri Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, Immunization Record, the Information Statement for Purchaser of Dog or Cat, and the Puppy Examination Health Certificate. I noted the paperwork showed the puppy came from Missouri. The employee replied, “Yeah, we get from all over.” He then pointed out the name and address of the breeder as listed on the CVI, Eli Yoder Jr. (County Road 2756, Moberly, Missouri 65270; there was no USDA number noted).
When I asked (11:50) “Do they (i.e. Eli Yoder Jr.) just breed Yorkies?”, the employee replied, “I’m not 100% sure. He could.” I asked, “And do you guys go to like see the dogs there? I mean, how do you know that this isn’t one of those places (i.e. puppy mills) you were talking about?” The employee replied “Because it’s like, yeah, like, multiple staff went there. Like you know, when there’s time where it’s not busy, we’ll go visit. You know, see what it’s like. You know, if it’s an actual puppy mill or whatever. And if they’re not, if they actually have all their paperwork and everything seems clean, that’s when we do business. But we won’t do business if we don’t know who we’re dealing with.” This statement is extremely false and misleading. It is virtually impossible for the store to visit and inspect all the breeders who supply puppies to the store. As noted earlier, NY Breeder sources puppies from numerous brokers, who in turn source them from hundreds of breeders all over the county. It would be virtually impossible for store employees to visit all the dog breeders supplying puppies to their stores, especially if they are using brokers as middlemen. This statement is proven false by CAPS’ 2015 investigation of SanJon Kennel (CAPS Investigation of SanJon Kennel), which CVIs show provides puppies to NY Breeder. When asked by the CAPS investigator if pet stores ever inspect her facility, owner Sandy Blake replied “Never”.
When I asked the employee (1:15) “So these are breeders you guys work with, you are comfortable with?”, he replied, “Yeah, we’ve been working with for decades. We trust them.” This statement is false and misleading, as CAPS’ research shows that NY Breeder sources puppies from at least 65 different breeders and brokers, not all of whom have been breeding dogs for “decades”. For example, in reviewing Certificates of Veterinary Inspection for puppies transported to NY Breeder between October 2020 and January 2021, CAPS noted several new breeders supplying puppies to the store. These include Hillside Kennel of Augusta, WI whose pre-license inspection was conducted in 2019 (USDA Pre-license Inspection Report for Hillside Kennel) and John Henry Miller of Utica, MN whose pre-license inspection was conducted in 2017 (USDA Pre-license Inspection Report for John Henry Miller).
Furthermore, the employee’s statement is false because CAPS’ research of CVIs shows that NY Breeder sources its puppies from multiple brokers including Tiffanie’s LLC, Sobrad LLC, Pinnacle Pet, Mike’s Brokerage, MG Cattle Inc., Blue Ribbon Puppies, First Class Puppies, Choice Puppies, Brian Lichirie and J.A.K.S. Puppies. Brokers such as these source their puppies from multiple hobby breeders, who are not required to be certified and inspected by the USDA if they have fewer than four breeding females on premises. Therefore, without USDA inspection reports for these hobby breeders, it is difficult to determine how long they have been in business.
I said (12:57) “The one thing that comes to my mind, as a mom, is I wonder what their parents, their moms, where they live, and what kind of life they have. Like, do they breed them constantly?” The employee replied, “Yeah, that’s basically like a really horrible way of breeding them. It’s like mass breeding, and they’re not really keeping up with everything so they can have medical conditions, you wouldn’t even know.” I said, “That’s sad. But this isn’t a place like that?” The employee replied, “No. I would not work for a place that like…I love dogs, really.” I then asked, “Do you think they keep these dogs’ (referring to the puppies I was looking at) moms in cages?” The employee replied, “No, it’s normally like in a field area. Like they have the space to run around and exercise. Of course, when it’s time to go to sleep, they’ll probably keep them confined so they don’t escape, and also to make sure that they’re safe.”
The employee’s statement is false. CAPS’ investigator has investigated hundreds of commercial dog breeding operations across the country, most of which are USDA licensed, and has obtained thousands of hours of video footage documenting the small, cramped conditions in which the dogs and puppies at these operations are typically housed. (For CAPS’ video footage of breeder facilities, go to CAPS Breeder Investigations: Videos and Reports).
Furthermore, per the Federal Animal Welfare Act, which the USDA is charged with upholding, USDA licensed breeders are not legally required to provide more than 6” of space wider, taller and longer than the dog itself when in a standing position. Breeders may legally, and typically do, confine their dogs to small, cramped cages for their entire lives.
Later (18:55), when I commented, “That’s crazy, I had no idea the USDA oversaw breeders”, the employee replied, “Oh yeah. The Department of Agriculture. … They will shut you down if things are not up to par. If it’s not spic and span, shut down.” This statement is false. As shown in the link above (CAPS Breeder Investigations: Videos and Reports), USDA licensed breeding operations are far from what the average consumer would consider “spic and span”. The USDA is notorious for its lax standards, minimal oversight, and poor enforcement. Furthermore, in 2014 the USDA instituted its new “teachable moments” policy, instructing its inspectors to no longer cite breeders for “minor” non-compliances. If an inspector sees a minor non-compliant item, rather than citing it on an official inspection report, the inspector records it in his notes as a “teachable moment.” This policy proves that the USDA does not require its licensees to have “spic and span” operations, nor are they “shut down” for same.
I asked the employee (14:04) “Do you get a lot of dogs from this one (i.e. breeder)? You don’t know if they do just this breed?” The employee replied “All of our breeders, we’ve been doing business for like over twenty years. It’s probably longer than that. It’s not like they’re new or anything.” When I again asked the employee if he knew whether or not Eli Yoder Jr. bred just Yorkshire Terriers, he replied, “I don’t know”.
I noticed that a Shih tzu puppy was scratching at his ears frequently (video 1/2; 15:30, 16:37, 16:53). I mentioned it to the store employee (20:56). I said, “See, he’s itching a lot.” The employee replied, “Yeah, they do that. Sometimes like, it’s probably time for a little bath.” I said, “I feel like he’s itching a lot, though.” At 22:22, the employee and I saw the puppy scratching at his ears again. The employee said they were going to clean out his ears. I said “Yeah, I’m worried about that.” At 23:45 I said, “I’m really concerned about his ears. Since you put him down in here, he’s been scratching his ears.” The employee said, “Yeah. And also I’m going to be cleaning ears today anyway so I’ll figure it out definitely.” I said, “I think I should move to the next one (i.e. puppy), because that’s upsetting me. He just looks so uncomfortable.” The employee took the puppy away, saying that he would go clean his ears. He returned a few minutes later (31:19) and said “Yeah, he just needed his ears cleaned.”
When I asked if the employee if the puppies were spayed, he said “that is left up to the owner”. He also told me that the store puppies were microchipped.
Breeder information pertinent to this investigation:
Eli Yoder Jr. (County Road 2756, Moberly, Missouri 65270)
Note: I did not observe a USDA # for this breeder on the store paperwork. I am unable to find this specific breeder on the USDA’s List of Active Licensees and Registrants. However, there is an Elmer E. Yoder Jr. in Moberly, Missouri (10505 Hwy M, Moberly, MO USDA #43-A-6390). The addresses are within 2.7 miles of each other.