Teacups and Toys, a Pet Boutique
271 E Merrill St
Birmingham, MI 48009
(248) 594-9494

Date and time of CAPS investigation: 3/20/24, 14:21

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

Owner claimed he doesn’t use puppy mills because his vets approve of him

The store had two enclosures set in a wall, each about four feet long and two feet wide and tall. Each enclosure held a single puppy of about six months of age. I spoke to the store owner, Jeff, about his puppies. He told me that the proof he doesn’t use puppy mills is that if I called local vets, they would tell me that they don’t get sick puppies from his store. He also said, “I tell everybody, look, I’ve been here for eighteen years. Every single sports team in Detroit –Tigers, Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings – either players on the club or the owners of the club have dogs from us. And for the people that I have sold for here all these years in Birmingham, I’d have been closed years ago if those were puppy mill dogs.”

Owner said breeding dogs aren’t adoptable, then said they all get adopted

When I asked Jeff for specific information about breeders, he was evasive and changed the subject often. At other times he gave contradictory information. For example, he told me that breeders’ dogs don’t make good pets but then told me that all retired breeding dogs end up with homes. He said, “One of the things that happens when you have a female that has puppies and they live in a kennel, then they’re typically not as great as a family pet because their lifestyle is different than when you buy a puppy and rear that puppy in a home. Because they usually only know the breeder and whatever helpers the breeders have. So it’s a very small, limited amount of people that they get used to, and they get a little bit gun-shy when you have a whole bunch of kids running around because kids don’t go in kennels.” But when I asked him what happens with the dogs when they are no longer being used for breeding, he said, “Oh, they usually will find somebody for homes.”

Owner claimed that keeping dogs in kennels “potty-trains” them

Jeff explained his relationship with his breeders as, “The way I work it, I’ve only got six breeders that I work with. I’ve seen the kennels. I know the parents. I know exactly what I’m getting. And I get to choose what I want out of the litter.” I asked him for specifics on them, such as if they keep dogs in cages or have a hundred dogs. He said, “I don’t know anybody that has a hundred dogs. I mean, none of my breeders. That I can tell you. And as far as keeping them caged up. It depends on what they’re doing. If they’re in the crate the entire day, you don’t want that. But you do have to keep them contained.”

I asked Jeff to clarify, and he explained that keeping dogs contained in pens somehow potty-trains them. I asked, “Okay. So they’re in cages?” Jeff said, “Well, No, no. More than anything, they’re more in an exercise pen. And that’s one of the keys that starts to get the dog potty-trained when they’re in a small condensed area. So if you have this big, giant room, so the whole front of this store is their play yard, they’re not going to go to the bathroom no matter. They’ll just stop in the middle of the floor and stop to go to the bathroom because they don’t know where they’re supposed to go to the bathroom.”

Owner dodged other questions

I repeatedly asked him for how long his breeders use their dogs for breeding. He deflected by saying that some dogs skip their own heat cycles and that French Bulldogs can’t be overbred because of C-sections, but at no point did he answer my question. He then claimed that breeders don’t allow people into their kennels because they want to keep parvoviurs out but not because they have anything to hide.

Jeff claimed that all of his breeders are local. I asked if I could have the name of the breeder for one of the puppies in the storein in order to do an online search of them and verify they aren’t a puppy mill. He then looked away from him and said that he could. However he seemed surprised by the question, as if he wasn’t used to being asked it. He then changed the subject to explain that he sells to local sports team athletes and owners and doesn’t use puppy mills. The owner went to a back office room and returned to tell me that the breeder was named Daniel Hostetler but offered no other information about him.

Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store

The owner’s claim that dogs are kept in “exercise pens” instead of cages is false. I visited the store’s breeder, Aaron Bontrager of Millersburg, IN, on 4/18/24, where I saw matted dogs in small wire cages above ground covered in feces. There was no exercise pen on the property, and the dogs’ enclosures were clearly not for exercise. Furthermore, the owner’s claim that he doesn’t use puppy mills is  also untrue as Bontrager’s mill is the quintessential puppy mill. In fact, the dogs at it were so matted that it was difficult to determine their breeds.

The owner’s claim that he only uses local breeders is also untrue since Bontrager is in Indiana. It is also unlikely the owner picks puppies out of litters, as he claims, as the Bontragers are Amish and would not use video conferencing to show puppies to anyone. Moreover, it is unlikely the owner drives all the way to Millersburg, IN to select puppies by hand.

The owner’s claim that breeders find homes for used up breeding dogs is misleading. While this happens on occasion, my experience in speaking to hundreds of commercial breeders is that they will often sell their dogs at auctions for profit or shoot the dogs as a cheaper means of euthanasia than using a veterinarian.

Breeder informatiuon obtained during store investigation

Daniel Hostetler

Breeder information obtained from 2023 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection

Aaron Bontrager, 14140 County Rd 44, Millersburg, IN, unlicensed


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