The Puppy Place
1400 C Boston Road
Springfield MA 01119
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 10/07/2018; approximately 2 p.m.
Number of dogs observed at time of investigation: approximately 30 puppies
Puppies were in closed-topped, glass-fronted enclosures on solid plastic slat flooring, with a small towel or blanket for bedding. Cage cards on the front of each enclosure listed the puppies’ breeds.
A pet shop license and a state-required disclosure sign were on display.
Debbie, the manager, told me that all the store’s puppies come from USDA licensed breeders. She stated that the breeders are reputable and not puppy mills. Debbie told me that the store sold puppies that were purpose bred. She also said that the store’s owners had helped set up an organization called Save All Dogs Rescue Inc. that is located in Manchester, CT. Debbie told me that the manager of that rescue is Erin Munroe, and that she will soon be opening a location next door to The Puppy Place.
Certificates of Veterinary Inspection indicate that Gary Felts sold to Park Avenue. In 2015, CAPS investigated Gary Felts, a USDA-licensed dog breeder in Kingsley, Iowa. Our investigation led to the discovery that Felts was concealing assets to avoid paying more than $18,000 in fines for AWA violations. The OIG and the U.S. Attorney relied on our undercover video, reports, and other findings in their case against Felts. Sadly, Felts was allowed to plead guilty to only one count of making false statements. But he was ordered to have no further AWA violations during his probation. However, CAPS discovered that he had serious AWA violations in January 2017, which his USDA inspector failed to tell the OIG. CAPS notified the U.S. Attorney and OIG, and Felts’ license was terminated. Unfortunately, the U.S. Attorney didn’t seize Felts’ dogs to place them in shelters. Instead, Felts auctioned them off to pay his fine. The U.S. Treasury was apparently more interested in settling Felts’ debt than in the welfare of the dogs, which were in terrible condition.
CAPS investigation of Gary Felts, including video.
The Puppy Place used to obtain puppies from The Hunte Corporation (now doing business under the name Choice Puppies), a broker (USDA “B” license) in Goodman, MO. Before Andrew Hunte passed away and his wife sold the company to new owners, Hunte was the largest broker in the country, shipping as many as 2,000 puppies a week to pet shops. A CAPS investigator worked undercover at Hunte for six months in 2004. They use numerous breeders in the Midwest, some of whom CAPS investigated. Booking agents, some of whom work directly for Hunte and others who are small brokers, work directly with the breeders to “book” the puppies. The booking agents transport the puppies from around the Midwest to Hunte.
The Puppy Place has also purchased puppies from broker Becky Busboom, who owns Pixie Pals in Dannebrog, NE. Busboom sometimes brokered puppies for Gary Felts and kittens for Claudia Obermiller. USDA relied on our undercover evidence to levy a $5,000 fine in 2016 against Obermiller, whose breeding facility contained horrendous AWA violations. USDA finally terminated her license in late 2017 or early 2018 (USDA administrative law decisions and consent decrees are no longer available).
CAPS investigation of Claudia Obermiller, including video.
Debbie gave me breeder information on one puppy – Lester Troyer of Clark MO. The USDA directory lists him as an “A” licensed breeder. Clark is an Amish town with a number of puppy mills.
Breeder information obtained from and/or pertinent to this store investigation:
- Lester Troyer – Clark, MO