11924 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33184
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 08/22/21; 1558
Approximate number of puppies observed at time of investigation: about 200
There were about 107 puppy enclosures in the store, each containing one to two puppies, though most contained two puppies. The enclosures had solid walls and floorings, with shredded paper on the floorings. The back walls were cage doors allowing access to back rooms for employees, with water bottles set on them. Enclosures were about two feet tall and wide, and either two or three feet long. Over half of the enclosures contained two puppies that were large enough that they couldn’t lay down and extend their legs without contacting each other and their enclosure walls at the same time (Sec. 5-4 (b)(5) to keep the animal in an enclosure that does not permit the animal to make normal postural movements).
Breeder information was on a stand at the back of the store, in between two walls of puppy enclosures. The information had breeders’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and USDA license numbers, as well as information on where the puppies were purchased from by the store. Most had the breeders’ names listed as the source of acquisition, while others had “PBT” written as the source. Just under half of the 40 breeders listed did not have USDA licenses, and had “Hobby Breeder” written instead, with one noting “Exempt” instead of the USDA number.
]Standing next to the breeder info, I asked an employee (Hispanic female, about 25 years old, 5’5″, 90 lbs., with long black hair) if I could go through the info to look to look information of breeders. She told me, “No, we just don’t really like that. But when you see a puppy, I can tell you like, oh this is for that puppy. Just because it’s all well-organized in a specific order.” I asked if she knew anything about the breeders, so I could make sure they aren’t puppy mill. She responded, “Yeah, so you do take home the breeder information. The breeder’s license.” Then she showed me breeder information for one puppy, Call Breezer, before setting it back on the stand.
I then asked her, “Do you know anything about like, for your breeders, if like, if they’re, if they have any violations, or if they keep the dogs in cages or in the house, or how many dogs they have?” She answered, “So we try to make sure that they’re all, like in the house. Like all well cared for. No puppy mills. They would let us know if there would be certain violations, so we just won’t buy a puppy mill, now. Also, if we get a puppy that we see is just not in too well shape, we won’t buy from that breeder anymore.”
I asked if she knew for how many years dogs are used for breeding and how many dogs the breeders own. She responded, “Usually you can always call them, and they will tell you that and stuff. Usually they’ll have two, three, a couple puppies. Not too many. So, their puppies aren’t coming all year round. We get a litter on this month, and maybe until next year we won’t get another set of those puppies. So, they don’t come in too regularly, we just have so many different ones that we’re always able to get new puppies in here.”
I asked, “Okay, so the breeders, they usually have the dogs in their house?” She said, “Yeah. Yeah.” I asked, “And they’ll only have a couple, two or three puppies at a time?” She responded, “Mm hmm,” and added that I can call breeders to get information from them.
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store
The employee stated that the store tries to make sure all of the dogs live in the house and not cages. She claimed that Puppies Secret does not buy from puppy mills. CAPS has investigated more than 1,000 puppy and kitten mills, most of them USDA-licensed. In my 18 years with CAPS, I have been to more than 800 of these facilities. USDA-licensed breeders do not keep breeding dogs in their homes. Dogs at puppy mills – commercial breeding facility that mass produce dogs for resale – live in commercial buildings, usually with access to very small outdoor spaces. The stacked enclosures that are synonymous with puppy mills are called Sundowners. Hunte Corp. (formerly Sundowner Kennels),which was the largest brokerage facility in the country, developed them. I worked undercover at Hunte for six months in 2004 and investigated some of its breeders (see links to documentaries below). Hunte, which later changed its name to Choice Puppies, was supplying puppies to this store when I investigated it in February 2018
She also claimed that breeders have two or three puppies and that puppies from a certain breeder aren’t coming year-round. To maximize profits, commercial breeders breed female dogs on every heat, which is usually two times a year (some dogs skip a cycle). Mother dogs are usually bred on their first heat. Breeders typically kill mother dogs who are no longer fertile or producing small litters. Some puppy mills do give unwanted breeding stock to rescue organizations. CAPS has rescued some of these dogs during investigations.
As you can see from the numbers listed on the most recent USDA inspection reports, for the breeders below, the vast majority of breeders have way more than two or three puppies because of the vast number of breeding dogs at their facilities.
She told me that I could call the breeders myself to get information from them, such as how many dogs they have and for how many years the dogs are bred. It is unlikely the store would provide phone numbers for breeders. Even if I reached the breeders, it would be unusual for them to provide information such as the number of breeding dogs and puppies, for how many years dogs are used for breeding, and how often dogs are bred.
The employee alleged that the breeders would let them know if there were violations, equating violations with being a puppy mill. 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.
Breeder information obtained during store investigation
Samuel Gingerich, Seymour, IA (unlicensed). Samuel is most likely the brother of Daniel Gingerich at the same address. CVIs from June – September 2021 listed Daniel Gingerich as the consignor (see below).
Daniel Gingerich, Seymour, Iowa, 42-A-1632, 109 dogs and 153 puppies (Site 1) at 9/15/21 USDA inspection (report 25 pages long), 218 dogs and 385 puppies (site 1) at 7/7/21 inspection, 346 dogs at 7/9/21 inspection (site 6). USDA inspected six sites. Gingerich had more than 1,000 dogs at a least 10 locations in other Iowa towns.
Despite years of horrific, cruel treatment of dogs, USDA allowed Gingerich to operate with impunity. The suffering endured by the dogs at his mills is beyond description. Gingerich amassed 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act between March and September 2021, including having emaciated, dead and dying dogs and puppies. The complaint that USDA finally brought against Gingerich on September 24, 2021 is 67 pages long.
On November 2, 2021, a federal judge approved an agreement permanently barring Gingerich from selling, breeding, or brokering dogs. He also agreed to give up all 541 dogs still in his possession to Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Wayne County Sheriff Keith Davis said criminal charges will be filed.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture has fined Gingerich $40,000 and suspended his license.
Richard & Cindy Jensen, Neodesha KS, 48-A-2152, 303 dogs and 87 puppies at 3/19/2020 inspection.
Kimberly Ireland, 43-A-6185
License number belongs to Indian Ridge Kennel, 1970 Hwy KK, Pleasant Hope, MO 65725, 43-A-6185, 183 dogs and 86 puppies at 3/24/2021 inspection
Jenny & Barb Gabel, Newberg, MO, 43-A-6658, 154 dogs and 68 puppies at 9/22/2020 inspection.
Cool Breeze Puppies (not Call Breezer), Alexandria OH, 31-A-0824, 146 dogs and 80 puppies at 2/24/2020 inspection
Joyce Cairns, Glasco, KS, 48-A-1027, 101 dogs and 26 puppies at 7/19/2021 inspection.
7/19/21 inspection report cited violations for excessively long toenails, rusty metal on enclosures that was deteriorating and flaking, shelter structure doors with interior surfaces in contact with dogs that cannot be sanitized because they are chewed and splintered or have unfinished wood.
Fannie S Schwartz, Seymour, MO, 43-A-6110, 98 dogs and 39 puppies at 1/12/2021 inspection
Edwin Wagler, Loogootee, IN, 32-A-0269, 83 dogs and 87 puppies at 8/24/2021 inspection
Julie Halverson, Monona, IA, 42-A-0645, 69 dogs and 9 puppies at 4/26/2019 inspection
Cara Borin & John Moore, Honobia, OK, 73-A2756. 60 dogs and 24 puppies at 9/27/2019 inspection.
James Whatley, Mooresville, MO, 43-A-6055., 49 dogs and 13 puppies at 11/19/2019 inspection
6/8/21 inspection report had a violation for brokering puppies without a B license. The inspector noted that the licensee had six puppies (three different breeds) listed for sale on a website with availability from 4/21 – 6/21. He stated that there were no breeding dogs on the premises in the spring, so there should be no puppies available for sale during this time periods.
11/19/19 inspection report cited licensee for having eight puppies without identification, enclosures with a significant amount of feces, dirt, and grime, half of the outdoor enclosures having inadequate bedding material for current temperatures.
Carolyn Lansdown, Hartville, MO, 43-A-6162, 46 dogs and 15 puppies at 2/23/2021 inspection (related to Tammy Lansdown)
Kristine Schrock, Coalgate, OK, 73-A-2761, 31 dogs and 66 puppies at 7/6/2021 inspection
Note: It is likely that many of the Amish breeders sold puppies through Levi Graber, Blue Ribbon Puppies, in Odon, Indiana (see below). The store should have disclosed this information.
Breeder and Broker information obtained from June – September 2021 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
Daniel Gingerich, Seymour, Iowa, 42-A-1632, 109 dogs and 153 puppies (Site 1) at 9/15/21 USDA inspection (report 25 pages long), 218 dogs and 385 puppies (site 1) at 7/7/21 inspection, 346 dogs at 7/9/21 inspection (site 6). USDA inspected six sites. Gingerich had more than 1,000 dogs at a least 10 locations in other Iowa towns. See above.
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.
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.
Breeder and broker information obtained during 2018 investigation
Choice Puppies (Hunte Corporation), Goodman, MO, 43-B-0123
Hunte Corp. was taken over by West Point, IA-based Select Puppies in 2019. I worked undercover at Hunte for six months in 2004, when it was the largest dog brokerage facility in the country.
Allison Hedgpeth, Lonewolf Kennels, Iberia, MO, 43-B-3435 (Hedgpeth also had a T license for transporting puppies to pet shops)
Hedgpeth runs Dog Mother Rescue, a fraudulent rescue she created to help Chicago pet shops circumvent the city’s retail ban ordinance. Chicago finally amended its ordinance in 2021 to close the loophole that allowed the three remaining pet shops to use fraudulent rescues. Illinois now bans the retail sale of dogs and cats.
Jacqueline Schlessman, Purdy, MO, 43-A-5571
Breeder and broker information obtained from 2017 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
James Bixenman, New Cambria, MO, 43-A-4396
Marie Doherty, Fulton, KS, 48-B-0321
Judy Gray, Rothville, MO, 43-A-4052
Starmye Halpain, Hulbert, OK, 73-A-1408
Tammy Lansdown, Seymour, MO, 43-A-1268
Valente Rios, Osgood, MO 43-A-5652
J.A.K.’s Puppies, Britt, IA- 42–0271, 258 puppies at 3/8/18 USDA inspection
CAPS Investigator’s Journal: The Truth Behind J.A.K.’s Puppies
CAPS Investigator’s Journal: The Truth Behind Hobo K-9 Rescue
CAPS worked with the Iowa Attorney General to shut down Hobo K-9 Rescue and Rescue Pets Iowa, two fraudulent rescues created by J.A.K.’s puppies to circumvent retail ban laws in California and Chicago
Becky Busboom, Pixie Pals, Danenbrog, NE, 47-B-0166
Busboom was the broker for Claudia Obermiller, a horrible kitten mill breeder investigated by CAPS. USDA used our evidence to initially fine her and then to finally terminate her license.
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.