Puppygram Metro Detroit
28297 Woodward Ave Suite B
Berkley, MI 48072
(248) 439-0605

Date and time of CAPS investigation: 3/19/24, 15:32

Approximate number of puppies observed at time of investigation: 15 puppies

Eight enclosures held puppies against one wall of the store. Each enclosure was about two feet tall and deep and three feet wide. They all contained two puppies, except for one that held a single puppy. Cards were posted on cages with information about the breeders, including names, USDA numbers, and states.

Employee was unclear about what the AKC and USDA do

I spoke to an employee at the store about where puppies come from and said that I wanted to make sure they weren’t from puppy mills. As many pet store employees do, he seemed to confuse the USDA and AKC with each other and explained the store’s treatment of puppies as an answer to questions about the breeders’ treatment of breeding dogs.

I inquired about the USDA numbers on the breeder cards, and he said, “Yeah. They’re all one hundred percent AKC dogs. I then asked, “AKC? Okay. Is that the same? That’s different than USDA, right? USDA is the ….” He told me, “No, I think that it regulates it, but it’s AKC, American Kennel Club.” He then explained the puppies are vet-checked, and added, “We got the best dogs in the city, bar none. We take great care of them. You can see they’re not on any paper, newspaper. Urine-soaked newspaper like a lot of them. Nasty. We invested three hundred thousand dollars in the store. We have two other stores. And we don’t nickel and dime or jeopardize anything.”

Claimed that the owner visits breeders who aren’t puppy mills

I then tried to redirect him to my puppy mill question by asking, “And you all don’t use like, puppy mills or anything, right?” He answered, “No. No hell no. If we saw one dog, we wouldn’t jeopardize a million dollars in business.” He then told me to use the information on the breeder cards to verify what the breeders are like. The employee claimed that his brother regularly visits the store’s breeders. He told me, “My brother goes and sources these dogs when they’re three weeks old.” He added, “He starts looking at these dogs when they’re three weeks old, and then he goes back ten days later, and then ten days later, and he picks them out. He picks out the ones with the best temperament. He’s really good at that.”

Claimed that rescue dogs are bad for kids

The employee then wrongly claimed that rescue dogs are more likely to be sick than puppies from breeders and wrongly claimed that rescue dogs are less likely to be good fits for children. He said, “And the reality is you can get a rescue dog, but you better have two thousand or three thousand on the side because you’re going to have problems from the beginning. Whereas these dogs are super healthy. If you’re starting a small family, you don’t want your kids dealing with the passing of a dog or a sick dog. So I think this is a great service because these dogs are so healthy, and we guarantee the health of our dogs. And you just want them to have a good ten years before a child has to or someone has to deal with a dying puppy or something. I look at it like that.”

I asked him, “Do you know how many dogs they have, or how long they breed them for, or what happens to them after?” He deflected with the response of, “I don’t have it to that level, but I know that if it wasn’t a humane situation, my brother wouldn’t even give him [the breeder] a nickel of his time or money.” I reminded him I was looking for an answer to my specific questions on puppy mills, and he deflected again by saying, “That’s how we got in this business. We got in this business because we love nature ,and we’re hunters. That’s how my brother got into it. He was raising beagles as hunting dogs, and that’s how he got into loving animals. And we’ve always had… And that’s how we got into it, is loving nature and animals and all that. And we would never jeopardize our integrity or have that on our conscience that we did something that wasn’t ethical.”

Employee dodged direct question about puppy mills

I then tried to keep my puppy mill questions even simpler, and I asked him, “What is a puppy mill?” He dodged the question entirely by blaming animal rights groups for taking people’s women. He said, “There’s some fake ones out there, because there’s a movie that’s coming out on Netflix soon that’s all about the guy who has the ASPA. He’s the guy you see on TV with the puppy ads. The guy gets paid three million dollars.”

The business model: smaller means more money

The employee ended up explaining how the store views the puppies they sell in specific dollar values. He told me, “And we’ve cut them down all the way to giving up purebred Maltese for five hundred bucks because it was five months old, and we didn’t move the dog. It ends up with a great family. But that’s the business model. That’s how we move all these. The smaller they are, the more expensive they are. And then they’re dropping the prices until they move. But, yeah, there’s none of that shenanigans going on in this business. We got a store in Indianapolis, and we got one in Louisville as well.”

He told me that the store would take $300-$500 off a puppy’s price if I paid in cash. I asked about specific prices for puppies, and he answered, “The smaller dogs, twenty-eight hundred, thirty-eight hundred, that range. You come in here and you get to your spot and go to my brother. I’ll put my brother on the phone. Sometimes he’ll come down twenty-five hundred for some of them. It just depends. The French[ies], the Poodles are always expensive. The Maltese are always expensive. There’s a few that the prices are going down on. The Bulldog’s coming down, the Corgi is down to twenty-one hundred.” He then pointed out a small Poodle puppy, and said, “The smaller they are and the more red they are, the more the price is. That’s the way they go with those.”

Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store

The employee’s claim that the store does not use puppy mills is untrue. I visited one of the store’s breeders, Leah Graber (unlicensed) in Loogootee, IN, on 4/15/24. The facility had dogs in raised wire cages, with only enough space for them to move a few steps back and forth. No exercise area existed on the property. This is the quintessential puppy mill, and seeing such a place made it clear why the Puppygram Detroit worker dodged questions about the specifics of breeding conditions. I also visited the store’s breeder, Floyd Borntrager (32-B-0259) in Salem, IN, on 4/17/24. The kennel had large dogs in concrete runs that offered them only enough space to move a few steps back and forward, and not even take a full step to the side before touching the other wall of their enclosures. Such conditions are typical of puppy mills.

The employee’s claim that the owner visits breeders every 10 days is almost certainly false. It’s possible the owner picks up puppies from the breeders the store uses, primarily in Indiana. But the store had 10 different breeders noted on breeder cards in the store while I was there, and Certificates of Veterinary Inspection obtained by CAPS in 2023 showed the store bought from two brokers and 14 breeders, all different from the 10 I saw in the store. It is ridiculous to believe the owner is visiting all of these breeders with puppies that are being raised for the store at any given moment. Additionally, breeders would not want the owner handling puppies from other facilities before going to their facility to look at their puppies.

Breeder information obtained during store investigation

Nelson Hochstetler, Arthur, IL, 33-A-0580, 75 adults, 26 puppies at 9/5/23 USDA inspection

Clarence (and Ernest) Bontrager, Etna Green, IN, 32-A-0421, 73 adults, 80 puppies at 3/2/22 USDA inspection; they haven’t had an inspection in more than two years.

Paul King, Fountain City, IN, 32-A-0502, 40 adults, 28 puppies at 1/19/23 USDA inspection

Matthew Raber, Joyful-Pups, LaGrange, IN32-A-1037, 48 adults, 26 puppies at 4/13/23 USDA inspection

Wallace Wagler, Loogootee, IN, 32-A-053, 17 adults, 10 puppies at 1/4/24 USDA inspection

Daniel and Roselyn Stoll, Loogootee, IN, 32-A-0293, 79 adults, 52 puppies at 1/10/23 USDA inspection

Steven Lehman, Middlebury, IN, 32-A-0345, 37 adults, 37 puppies at 9/29/22 USDA inspection; he hasn’t had an in inspection in nearly two years.

Ronnie (and Lovina) Graber, Montgomery, IN, 32-A-0564, 17 adults, 12 puppies at 3/22/24 USDA inspection

Gary Lambright, Topeka, IN, 32-A-0800, 24 adults, 39 puppies at 3/5/21 USDA inspection; he hasn’t had an inspection in more than three years.

Enos Graber, Woodburn, IN, 32-A-1048, 4 adults, 12 puppies at 5/3/23 USDA inspection

Broker information obtained from 2023 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection

Lovable Gold Star Puppies, 10242 E 1475 N, Odon, IN, 32-B-0242, 113 puppies at 10/14/23 USDA inspection

Floyd Borntrager, 5550 S Becks Mill Rd , Salem, IN, 32-B-0259, 7 puppies at 4/26/24 USDA inspection.

Breeder information obtained from 2023 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection


Larry Graber, 10676 E 600 N, Loogootee, IN,  32-A-0460, 30 adults, 16 puppies at 6/21/23 USDA inspection

Daniel Kemp, 1420 N 575 E, Montgomery, IN, 32-A-0572, 27 adults, 30 puppies at 2/26/24 USDA inspection

Travis (and Pual) Raber, 7526 E 600 N, Montgomery, IN,  32—0839, 21 dogs, 3 puppies at 8/9/23 USDA inspection

John Leon Graber, 10554 N 775 E, Odon, IN,  32-A-0936, 21 adults, 21 puppies at 1/31/23 USDA inspeciton

Marlin Miller, 2935 W 700 S , Topeka, IN 46571, 32-A-0983, 13 adults at 10/10/23 USDA inspection 


Kyle Fry, 11284 W 1000 N, Ligonier, IN

Peter Wagler, 11627 E 550 N, Loogootee, IN

Leah Graber, 10631 E 200 N, Loogootee, IN

Duane Bontrager, 9720 W 400 S, Millersburg, IN

Norma Stoll, 5909 E 350 N, Montgomery, IN

Alvin Raber, 5831 N 775 E, Montgomery ,IN

Simon Wagler, 5547 N 850 E, Montgomery, IN

Josiah Wagler, 104345 N 700 E, Odon, IN

William Knepp, 1578 E 100 N, Washington, IN

Note regarding number of dogs at above breeding facilities

The number of adult breeding dogs and puppies at the above facilities is consistent with being commercial breeding establishments, also known as puppy mills, that mass produce dogs for resale to pet shops.  Please refer to the following link (Summary of legal cases defining “puppy mill”) for a summary of legal cases defining the term “puppy mill.”

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 was using teachable moments, self-inspections and a trial announced inspection program.  Their guidelines also instructed inspectors not to cite ear, eye and dental diseases as veterinary care violations. Due to pressure from animal advocates, USDA has terminated these programs. Nonetheless, the citation of violations by inspectors continues to be extremely limited.


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