CAPS played a key role in assisting The Philadelphia Inquirer in an article on Pennsylvania puppy mills (12/10/95). This article featured Puppy Love Kennels, a large facility in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania (Lancaster County). The Philadelphia Inquirer and “20/20” stories on the AKC also featured this kennel. The owner of Puppy Love, Joyce Stoltzfus, obtains the majority of her business through newspaper advertisements. Some of the puppies she sells are from her breeding stock, but most of the puppies are from other breeders in Lancaster County and Ohio.
The AKC suspended Ms. Stoltzfus’ privileges in 1990. Yet, with full knowledge of the AKC, she continued to sell AKC registered dogs. She merely omitted her name from the supplemental AKC registrations so that it appeared the dogs came directly from the breeders. In 1991, the USDA fined Ms. Stoltzfus and her husband, Raymond, $10,000 in 1991 for re-selling dogs to pet shops without a Class B license and for having unsanitary conditions and inadequate disease control.
A customer who purchased a Puppy Love Golden Retriever with hip dysplasia, contacted us after the “20/20” piece on the AKC. She assisted us in obtaining complaints from more than 100 customers who purchased sick or dying puppies from Puppy Love. Because of the publicity and the complaints, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office began investigating Puppy Love and was going to take the case to trial in the April 1998. The date of the hearing was postponed until October 1998. The case was settled, and the Stoltzfus’ agreed to pay $30,600 in restitution while not admitting wrongdoing. The Attorney General’s Office refuses to tell CAPS if it ever collected this fine.
In March 2001, the state Board of Veterinary Medicine fined Ms. Stoltzfus $500 for providing Amoxicillin to a customer without having a veterinary license. That same month, a district justice dropped 82 of 85 state charges against Ms. Stoltzfus due to an incomplete inspection of her kennel. The remaining charges were for overcrowding.
On June 26, 2003, the Humane League of Lancaster County seized 24 dogs and four cats from Puppy Love. They also seized business records. The Humane League contends that Ms. Stoltfuz has been selling AKC registered dogs despite her suspension. They also claim that Ms. Stoltfus and her husband neglect their dogs and sell sick and dying puppies. About one week later, a judge ordered the immediate return of the records seized by The League. The Stoltzfus’ attorney argued that the records contain medical histories of each animal. He stated in his motion that the Humane League “has jeopardized the health and welfare of the 500-plus dogs” at Puppy Love because Mr. and Mrs. Stoltzfus won’t know the type of vet care required for each animal without these records.
Raquel Ramos of Baltimore, Maryland purchased a mixed breed dog for $300 on November 9, 2002. Shortly thereafter, the dog was diagnosed with parvovirus, coccidia and pneumonia. Ms. Ramos spent more than $1300 to save her dog. The breeder was Raymond Alley in Lucasville, Ohio.
The Humane League of Lancaster County received six complaints in the first three months of 2002 from Puppy Love customers who had purchased with parvovirus or distemper. One of these customers was Margaret Alford. She purchased a mixed breed puppy from Puppy Love for $275 on January 30, 2002, which she recovered, and spent close to $1600 treating the dog for parvo. The dog died a few days later. The breeder of was Sharon Thompson in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania.
CAPS has also spoken to three other Puppy Love customers whose dogs had distemper. Pat Dwyer works for a veterinary clinic that was treating a mixed breed puppy with distemper. She adopted the dog from a family because they were thinking of returning the dog to Puppy Love. They had purchased the puppy for $300 shortly before Christmas. Ms. Dwyer’s vet bills exceeded $1,000. Unfortunately, the puppy died in early January of 2002.
A college student, Anna Slutsky, also purchased a sick Puppy Love puppy in December of 2001. This dog died from parvovirus and distemper.
Luise and Ken Fortney bought a Rottweiler mix puppy, Zeus, from Puppy Love on December 20, 2001 as a Christmas present for their five-year-old son. Zeus died from distemper on 12/31/01. Ms. Stoltzfus finally returned the purchase price of the dog (around $300) but refused to reimburse the Fortneys for their vet bills of $827. The breeder was Raymond Alley. Read about Zeus in a letter from Luise Fortney to Joyce Stoltzfus.
In the first part of 1999, CAPS received a complaint from a customer who purchased a Golden Retriever puppy, Sandy, from Puppy Love for $400 in November 1998. The customer drove from Virginia to find a puppy. Ms. Stoltzfus brought out a dog she claimed to be Sandy’s mother. The customer then asked Ms. Stoltzfus if Sandy’s mother had hip clearance papers. Ms. Stoltzfus said she kept these papers in a safe at the bank and promised to fax them. The customer never received any hip clearance papers. Ms. Stoltzfus told the customer that the puppy had registration papers. The customer assumed that this meant American Kennel Club registration. After she came home with the dog, she realized Sandy was registered with the Continental Kennel Club. When the veterinarian examined initially examined the puppy, he said that Sandy was five-weeks-old. When the customer confronted Ms. Stoltzfus with this information, she said there was no way the dog could be that young. She also denied that the female dog she had shown the consumer was Sandy’s mother and stated that she didn’t have the mother on the premises.
By February, Sandy manifested severe hip and knee problems. She could barely stand up and cried while standing. The customer called Ms. Stoltzfus and told her about Sandy’s medical condition. Ms. Stoltzfus said that no dog in Sandy’s lineage had ever had hip or knee troubles. The customer couldn’t afford hip replacement surgery. She asked Golden Retriever Rescue to take Sandy, but they refused since Sandy had come from Puppy Love. The Annapolis SPCA took Sandy in February 1999 and said it had a waiting list of 200 people who wanted Golden Retrievers. CAPS contacted the ASPCA and discovered that they had euthanized Sandy because of severe hip and knee problems. The customer was under the impression that the SPCA would find Sandy a home. They told her that once she left the dog with them, she could not find out Sandy’s fate. In fact, the SPCA would not directly tell CAPS that they had euthanized the dog. The shelter employee said it was the SPCA’s policy not to disclose this information, even to another animal protection organization.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is encouraging anyone who has bought a Puppy Love dog to telephone the office at 800-441-2555. Please also submit the CAPS pet shop complaint form.