Breeder: Diego Valdez
Kennel Name: DV Howlies
Address: 216 Squirrel Run Rd
City, State, Zip: Paige, TX 78659
USDA License: none found
State License: none found (though lacking a state license, conditions at the facility that violate Texas licensed breeder regulations noted)

Date and Time of CAPS Investigation: 1/20/23, 1445

Weather at Time of Investigation: 57°F and overcast

Approximate number of dogs and puppies observed at time of investigation: 20 dogs and six puppies

Breeds (some bred and some boarded): German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Golden Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terrier, Great Pyrenees, Labrador Retrievers

I spoke to the kennel owner, who identified himself as Diego Valdez (Caucasian male, about 35 years old, 5’4″, 185 lbs., with short, curly brown hair that was longer on top than the sides or back,  gold-rimmed glasses, and tattoos covering his arms) about his operation as he showed me most of the kennel. Diego explained that at his property, he has dogs that he breeds, dogs that he boards for other people, and dogs about to deliver puppies that he’s holding for another breeder named Joseph As he showed me the property, two Black Labradors, a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, and Doberman ran loose in the fenced yard of the property outside of dog enclosures.

Kennel Enclosures

There were four primary kennel areas of the property, with enclosures being either outdoor pens or indoor/outdoor pens with the indoor portions in a covered building and accessible with doggie-doors. All were made with galvanized wire walls. The south corner of the property had a building with two indoor/outdoor runs, with dirt floorings, on its south and north sides. One run held a Golden Retriever, another held a white German Shepherd, and another held a nursing black German Shepherd with six five-week-old puppies. The puppy pen had a hole, large enough for a puppy to fit through, dug under the building’s outer wall, and a plastic dog dish was shoved partially into the hole (91.100(1) Structure; construction).

The eastern corner of the property, just south of the residence, had a large outdoor pen with five dog houses in it that lacked windbreaks (91.103(b)(3) Shelter from the elements). Four were plastic igloo-style doghouses located in a circle and facing each other, with a large dog dish set between them with a tarp on poles set over them. Several black water troughs were in the pen, with one near a fence wall for me to see. This trough was partially filled with brown water so dirty that I could only see couple inches down inside (91.109(b)(1) Sanitization of water receptacles). Nearby was a plastic water tub about two feet across and deep, with chewed, jagged edges covering the rim (91.100(3)(A)(ii) Surfaces).

On the ground, between and along the fences of the southern and eastern enclosures were plastic buckets, a plastic sink, and a wheelbarrow overflowing with metal poles and pieces of cardboard (91.100(2) Condition and site).

The northwest end of the property had a kennel building with about eight indoor/outdoor runs on two sides, though I could only clearly see the runs on one side of the building. The outdoor runs had galvanized wire floorings set over dirt. Closest to me, in a pen containing a Doberman,  the doggie-door had a brown buildup on its bottom surface (91.100(3)(C) Cleaning). Other runs contained single dogs, including a German Shepherd, a pregnant black German Shepherd, and an American Staffordshire Terrier.

North of the building with eight indoor/outdoor runs on two sides were more outdoor pens, but I couldn’t see them through the other dog enclosures to see dogs inside. However, Diego referred to the area when he said he has a dog “way out back” he plans to breed soon.

Unclear Ownership of Animals

Diego explained to me how his business and that another breeder work. He is associated with  Joseph. He said that when COVID first hit, many people bought puppies from breeders. Once those dogs became breeding age, they began to breed them for profit, resulting in an influx of puppies into the breeding market. He told that he has a friend nearby with 50 dogs who is cutting down to 30 because of the puppy market change, but then added that he sells breeding rights for his puppies. He used to sell German Shepherd puppies for $1,500 but now sells them for $800 with limited breeding rights and for another $200 gives full breeding rights.

Diego claimed he was AKC-licensed and inspected. He said that AKC doesn’t do inspections for breeders until they have had about 10 litters a year, and that for his first inspection AKC called him in advance before showing up to inspect him. It’s worth noting that calling in advance is something I’ve seen the USDA do at breeding and brokering facilities where I did undercover employment. The facilities used the notice to clean up long-standing or routine violations. Diego added, “You’re not gonna have to mess with AKC until you’re talking twenty dogs.”

He told me that he has an unbred female who will be bred soon to have puppies in two months, another who will be bred in a week, a litter of puppies that will be for sale in four weeks, and a litter for sale in two weeks. He did not mention the pregnant black German Shepherd I saw with an enlarged abdomen and teas beginning to swell. It was unclear how many dogs at Diego’s property belonged to him, and he wouldn’t say exactly how many dogs he owned. He did, however, say that he was boarding six dogs, and claimed that two dogs that were going to have puppies belonged to his roommate. His website,, notes only three breeding females and no planned litters, despite the litters he told me he plans to have available soon.

I asked Diego if he was inspected by the state, and he said that he “deals with” Animal Control and the Texas Department of Agriculture, and claimed that regulations on breeders are a good thing. However, he appears to be lacking a state license, though his business of boarding dogs and supposedly keeping dogs for his roommate and another breeder may allow him to claim he does not need a state license.

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