Business name: Obermark Kennels
City, State Zip: Pochantas, Illinois
USDA License: 33-A-0343
USDA Inspector: Bernard Flarlage, ACI
USDA Inspections: 2002-07-30 (Last USDA Inspection prior to CAPS investigation) (No non-compliant items)
Date of CAPS Investigation: 2002-08-24
Approximate number of dogs: 120. Breeds included Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Poodles, Pekingese, Papillons, Maltese, and Chihuahuas.
Virginia Obermark gave us the tour of her facility. Her kennel consisted of hutch enclosures and chain link kennels with concrete floors. An open concrete trough ran between the enclosures and served as the waste run-off trough. She had just used a hose to spray out the kennels. She hoses the feces and other debris to the trough and then sprays water into the trough to force the debris down into a gully beyond the enclosures. The dogs were all very wet and the concrete in the chain link enclosures retained puddles of water. Also, when she cleaned one enclosure, water, feces and other debris leaked into adjoining pens (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(b)(3)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). I saw water, dark liquid and leaves inside of the dogs shelter area (3.6(a)(v)(ix)-Primary enclosures). The shelters throughout most of the facility consisted of plastic doghouses. These houses lacked proper wind/rain break at the entrances (3.4(b)(2)(3)-Shelter from the elements). It had rained a day before my visit and that Ms. Obermark had just sprayed out the kennels. The source of the water build-up was probably a combination of the two.
I saw several rolls of new chain link fencing, a burn barrel, tall weeds, a partially burned brush pile, and a broken down riding mower directly in front of the kennel area (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). Ms. Obermark had discarded generic bleach bottles right next to dog shelters. Some of the bottles of bleach were full with lids on them and some were empty, missing lids (3.4(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). I also noticed leaves and hair build-up in between and around the doghouses (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises).
Parts of the chain link kennels were severely rusted. In fact, the pole structures and fencing were rusty. In some places, there were large rusted holes in the poles that were also jagged and in reach of the dogs (3.1(c)(1)(i)(ii)-Surfaces). The rusted holes were large enough that a small to medium size dog could put its entire leg through.
The food receptacles in the chain link kennels were round metal pans and hubcaps (I could see the Chevy emblem). They were somewhat rusty (3.9(b)-Feeding) and flies swarmed on the uneaten kibble (3.9(b)) (3.11(d)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). The water bowls were large black plastic dishes. The rough edges caused from chewing were collecting hair (3.10-Watering).
The hutch enclosures had these same black plastic water bowls. Ms. Obermark told us that the dogs in the hutches were wet because they played in the water bowls. Actually, the dogs were wet from her spraying to clean the enclosures. The water bowls were too large for the size of the hutch enclosures. The dogs practically had to stand or walk through the water bowl to move around (3.10).
Some of the interior surfaces of the hutches were scratched and chewed leaving exposed wood. They were not impervious to moisture (3.4(c)-Surfaces) (3.6(a)(2)(ix)-Primary enclosures). Most of the hutch enclosures had self-feeder boxes in them. Several of the feeder boxes were rusty and in need of replacement (3.1(c)(i)(1)(2)-Surfaces) (3.9(b)-Feeding).
Lack of veterinary care was a concern. All of the dogs were damp or wet. Most of the Yorkshire Terriers were matted and in need of grooming (2.40-Veterinary care). One Yorkshire Terrier’s hind end was so matted that it had feces caked around its anus. When it defecated, the feces caught in the mats, which caused further problems (2.40-Veterinary care). Another Yorkie had a lame right hind leg and had an obvious limp and hobble (2.40). Most of the dogs in the hutches with plastic coated wire had swollen feet pads (2.40-). A white poodle hiding in its hutch shelter peered out at us. His eyes appeared infected with a yellowish discharge (2.40). Many of the Yorkie’s eyes were inflamed. The matted hair around their eyes needed grooming and cleaning (2.40). The Maltese, Shih Tzus and Pekingese living on the damp concrete had very red, swollen feet pads and extremely long toenails (2.40). One Maltese kept shaking its head and scratching its head and ears (2.40). An extremely lethargic Maltese lay on the wet concrete with its face resting inside a hole in the chain link fencing (2.40). A very ill Pekingese concerned me the most. This severely thin dog had greenish discharge from its right eye and its tail and hind end were covered in old and new diarrhea (2.40). The dog rested by the entrance to its kennel with its chin propping its head up on the kennel door. Flies and caterpillars were on this dog, but he had no energy to fight them off (3.11(d)-Pest control).
I immediately asked Ms. Obermark about this dog. Her reply was that this dog was very old. She added that she keeps most of her older breeding dogs until they die or her vet makes her put them to sleep. She said that her vet had not made her put this particular dog to sleep yet, and she hoped that it would die in its sleep. I asked what the dog’s name was, and she said that she didn’t remember the dogs’ names but could recall their ID numbers. She referred to many of the dogs by numbers and not by names. She uses tags and tattoos for ID and registers her dogs with APR. She charges extra per dog for having to register with AKC because they are strict and more expensive than APR.
Ben Flerlage, ACI, did an inspection on 7/30/02, less than one month prior to the CAPS investigation. It is incredible that he found no violations. He failed to find any violations during the 9/18/01 inspection either. The Obermark facility has some very serious problems. The most alarming is the lack of veterinary care.