8236 Mills Dr
Miami, FL 33183
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 08/22/21; 1813
Approximate number of puppies and kittens observed at time of investigation: about 60 puppies and one kitten
There were about 30 puppy enclosures on one wall of the store, each containing one to three puppies, and one containing a kitten. The enclosures had solid walls and floorings, with wire doors at their backs for workers to access the puppies. Water bottles were on some doors, with other water bottle holders being empty. Metal food dishes were on floorings, and some enclosures had blankets and toys in them. The kitten had a blanket and covered litter box. Breeder information was on cards posted directly at animals’ enclosures, with breeders’ names, addresses, and USDA license numbers provided. It also noted a “distributor,” which for almost all breeders (including the kitten) was Blue Ribbon Puppies, 8478 N 1000 E, Oden, IN 47562, 32-B-0233. Also, the email firstname.lastname@example.org was at the bottom of puppy information.
I asked an employee (male, about 20 years old, 5’9″, 170 lbs., with short curly black hair faded on the sides) about puppies’ breeders, and he told me that puppies come from the top “two percent” of USDA breeders. He referred me to another employee (Hispanic male, about 20 years old, 5’10”, 190 lbs., with short black hair) for specifics about breeders. The second employee showed me videos on an ipad to demonstrate breeding conditions for the store’s puppies, saying, “Here’s a video of where our dogs come from.” The video showed dogs running and playing in open fields and grassy yards. I asked him, “Oh, so that’s what it’s like? It’s just like open?” He responded, “It’s an open kennel, yeah.” I asked, “So it’s not like dogs in little pens or cages or something?” He answered, “No no no. They run around all day long.”
I asked the first employee what it meant to be a USDA breeder, and he answered, “There’s certain requirements. There’s certain limits, you have to do to be eligible to be a USDA breeder. So, it’s like, to be a, like a, not like a certification, but like an employee. So, like, USDA, you have to have at least, like, good things about you.” I then went to look at puppies, and he returned to me to comment that USDA breeders have requirements other breeders don’t have. He added, “Same thing as like food, you know what I mean? A food that’s not quality, it’s not going to be USDA. But you see a food that’s good, it will be like USDA.”
I confirmed with the second employee about his claim that dogs are no in cages, and he told me, “No no no. They have a kennels, a little bit bigger than this,” and he pointed to a puppy enclosure. He added, “And then basically, they’re like solar-powered. So basically, they have, I don’t know how to explain it. Instead of those two doors being there,” (pointing to doors on the inside of an enclosure) “it’s like a little open gate, where they go through it, and it just leads to a whole, like field. And then they just come in and out, like a doggie-door, basically. So, they come in and out of the kennel, and then basically underneath the little slabs, it’s solar powered so then at night, when they sleep, it’s like warm.”
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store
The employee’s claim that puppies are obtained from the “top two percent” of USDA breeders is false. The USDA has no list ranking their breeders by percentage or any other ranking.
Broker information obtained from June – September 2021 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
Blue Ribbon Puppies (Levi Graber), Odon, IN, 32-B-0233, 108 puppies and three kittens at 5/5/21 USDA inspection
Graber brokers puppies and kittens from many breeders, most of whom are Amish and Mennonite. He does not breed. His 5//5/21 USDA inspection report listed 108 puppies and three kittens. His 8/38/19 inspection report listed 308 puppies.
From a report by ASPCA, which obtained CVIs from August 2019 – December 2020:
Blue Ribbon Puppies in Indiana is the single largest supplier to Florida pet stores. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) linked Blue Ribbon Puppies as one of the puppy brokers in a multi-state, multi-drug resistant Campylobacter disease outbreak caused by contact with puppies sold at pet stores. According to the CDC’s investigation, Florida had the second highest number of Campylobacter infections nationally. Blue Ribbon Puppies was a major supplier of Petland stores in Florida, shipping to locations in Largo, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Davie, Naples, Kendall, Fort Walton, Orlando, and Pensacola.
The owner of Petland Kendall also has franchises in Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Davie, Naples, Largo, and Doral (opened in September 2021).
CAPS investigated breeders selling to Levi Graber for a November 2007 two-part story with WTHR, the NBC Indianapolis affiliate. Every one of these breeders had a puppy mill. Three of them did not have a USDA license, although they had more than four breeding females (requirement is now five).
“Indiana’s Puppy Pipeline,” Parts 1 and 2, WTHR Indianapolis (NBC)
Unlicensed breeders who were selling to Graber (video was shot in VHS and couldn’t be transferred so is unavailable):
The following breeders were selling to Blue Ribbon. CAPS obtained their names from cage cards at New York pet shops, which listed Blue Ribbon as the broker.
Darrell Graber discusses how he uses Levi Graber as his broker and discusses the breeding industry, including how older breeding dogs have no teeth left. He referred the CAPS investigator to Levi Graber, who was texting his breeders the entire time to see if they knew anything about the investigator.
John Stolzfus investigation report and video
Justin Knepp investigation report and video
Wayne and Karen Miller investigation report and video
Richard Wagler investigation report and video
Steven Yoder investigation report and video
CAPS has investigated hundreds of Amish and Mennonite dog (and one cat) breeders in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. Most of these facilities had substandard, inhumane conditions. In addition to the story with WTHR in Indianapolis, CAPS worked on news stories with The Philadelphia Inquirer and “20/20” about Amish breeders and brokers. In general, the Amish view dogs and horses as livestock, not as companion animals. In fact, one Amish breeder stated in The Philadelphia Inquirer story that English people (how Amish refer to those outside the Amish community) don’t understand that dogs are merely livestock. He failed to understand why the English got so upset when dogs died.
ABC Tampa’s story on 8/27/20 about customers who incurred thousands of dollars of veterinary bills treating sick puppies purchased at Petland Largo (same owner as Petland Kendall)
Breeder information obtained during store investigation (Blue Ribbon was noted as a distributor for almost all puppies and the kitten)
Mystic Sunset Kennel LLC (Monroe Shrock), 29633 W 160th Ave, Bethany, MO 64424, 43-A-6508. 112 dogs and 71 puppies at 7/12/21 USDA inspection
Sunset Kennel LLC, S 6755 CR G, Hillpoint, WI 53937, 35-B-0216, 76 adults and 55 puppies at 1/14/20 USDA inspection
Reiff Flemington (listed as Loren Reiff on USDA dealer list), 18247 CR 358, Flemington, MO 65650, 43-A-6526, 75 adults and 42 puppies at 9/14/21 USDA inspection
Mark Yoder, 15910 240th St, Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1577, 63 adults and 112 puppies at 7/19/21 USDA inspection
Vernon Bontrager, W 3950 Grand River Rd, Markesan, WI 53946, 35-A-0434, 62 adults and 34 puppies at 9/15/21 USDA inspection
Shady Oak Frenchies (Jonathan Detweiler) LLC, 12824 Hwy D, Princeton, MO 64673, 43-A-6080, 57 adults and 39 puppies at 9/14/2 USDA inspection
The 9/15/21 inspection reported stated that a female Shih Tzu had wound to her right hindquarters that appeared to consist of three large lacerations. The area around the wound was red and the leg was swollen. The licensee stated that he found her that way that morning and believed she was attacked by the other dogs in the enclosure. He said that he had put some ointment on the wound and moved her to another enclosure rather than seeing veterinary care. The inspector instructed Bontrager to have the dog evaluated by the attending veterinarian by the next day (note: inspectors usually don’t return the next day to see if a violation has been corrected).
Breezy Crest Kennels (kitten breeder), 15061 202nd St, Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1404, 54 adult dogs and 42 puppies at 10/3/19 USDA inspection. This facility has not been inspected in two years; there were no cats or kittens.
Echo Ridge Kennel, 31545 W 162nd Ave, Bethany, MO 64424, USDA (left blank – listed as 43-A-6471), 51 adults and 75 puppies at 9/21/20 USDA inspection
Shady Lawn Kennel LLC, 21893 Driftwood Blvd, Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-158, 47 dogs and 20 puppies at 8/5/21 USDA inspection
Samuel Beiler, 19611 W Mound Rd, Platteville, WI 53818, 35-A-0409, 35 adults and 49 puppies at 3/15/19 USDA inspection
Christe Nass, 5559 Route K, Pineville, MO 64856, USDA: (left blank – listed as 43-A-6187), 32 adults and 49 puppies at 6/11/21 USDA inspection
No distributor information for this breeder.
Melvin Nisley, 3180 205th, Seymour, IA 52590, 42-A-1470, 32 adults and 30 puppies at 8/5/21 USDA inspection
Chris Kauffman, 13754 245th St, Moulton, IA 52572, 42-A-1476, 31 adults and 8 puppies at 3/25/20 USDA inspection
Pond View Kennel LLC, 27367 Anchorway, Greentop, MO 63546, 43-A-6063, 23 adults and 5 puppies at 8/6/21 USDA inspection
Eli D Schrock, 35379 180th St, Drakesville, IA 52552, 42-A-1558, 21 adults and 24 puppies at 8/4/21 USDA inspection.
Daniel Maibach, 14705 310th St, Bloomfield, IA 52537, Hobby
David Bontrager, Bloomfield, IA, Hobby
Lack of USDA violations
The fact that few breeders and brokers have USDA violations does not mean that none exist. During our undercover investigation of USDA-licensed facilities, we document violations. USDA has made it very easy for licenses not to have violations. In response to regulatory ordinances, USDA started using teachable moments, self-inspections and a trial announced inspection program. Their recent guidelines also instructed inspectors not to cite ear, eye and dental diseases as veterinary care violations (this requirement was recently changed back). It is for these reasons that USDA Animal Welfare Act violations have significantly decreased.