Breeder: Wee, Reuben
Business name: Dogs R Wee
City, State Zip: Balaton, MN
USDA License: 41-A-0039
USDA Inspector: Catherine Hovansak, VMO
USDA Inspections: Last USDA inspection prior to CAPS investigation: 3/28/00; Date of USDA license cancellation (failure to renew): 2/1/01
Date of CAPS Investigation: 2002-09-22
Approximately 40 dogs and 15 puppies. Breeds included Boxers, Mastiffs, Pomeranians, MinPins, Maltese, Pomeranian/Dachshund mix and one Pug.
We arrived at the Wee facility around 9:30 am on Sunday. Mrs. Wee answered the door and told us that she and her husband were getting ready for church. She offered us an appointment time of about 12:30 the same day.
The bodies of two older Pomeranians who had been dead about two weeks.
I asked if they had any Pomeranian puppies available. Mrs. Wee replied that they had some, but she wasn’t sure if they were booked already. She told us we would have to discuss the dogs with Mr. Wee later. She was very friendly. I noticed a small dog barking from inside their house and what appeared to be bloody dog prints on the outside of their storm door.
Hershey covered in matted fur balls prior to grooming.
We returned near the appointment time. We looked for Mr. Wee and walked about looking at his dogs. I could not find Mr. Wee, but what I did find appalled me. An old, emaciated, sickly female boxer was loose on the property. Even before she approached me at a distance I could see her ribs, lumbar, vertebrae, pelvic bones and other bony prominence. There was no discernable body fat and she had an obvious lack of muscle mass according to the Purina Body Condition System with a scoring system from 1-9. Nine being obese and overfed, The Boxer scored a 1. She had numerous cuts and scrapes on her legs and feet. She made any awful wheezing, rattling, gasping sound with most every breath that she took (2.40-Veterinary care).
Matted Pomeranians living on cracked, eroding concrete with fecal and hair accumulation and no windbreak or shade.
I noticed a pan of kibble on the ground near the station wagon. Mr. Wee was still storing dog food in the car (3.1(e)-Storage). Possibly the Boxer or rat – there were large rattraps placed near the whelping building – had eaten a small portion. The Boxer showed no interest in the food; she needed vet care. Generally a dog that thin with lack of appetite has had an ongoing health problem. She was just wasting away and I am quite certain that she was suffering or at the very least uncomfortable (2.40).
Matted Pomeranian living outdoors on feces-covered concrete.
As I walked about, still looking for Mr. Wee, I noticed a few familiar faces. The mother Pomeranian who had been inside the whelping building with her pups last year was in a chain link kennel outside. The older female Brindle Mastiff with the eye problem was in a cage behind the whelping building. She had been tethered on my previous visit and still had the same eye problem (2.40). Her cage mate was the young female Mastiff that I had noticed during my last visit. The Mastiff had been in a small chain link pen near a tethered older female Boxer. I didn’t see the older female Boxer that had been tethered.
Matted Pomeranians living in whelping building. The floor is covered with feces, kibble and debris. Feces is smeared on walls, and an unsealed wooden board lies against the back wall.
A red male Miniature Pinscher and Pug were in the outdoor housing area. They had been in the whelping building last time. There were a couple of older dogs – a black, very fuzzy Pom and a reddish fuzzy Pom – that were still in the outdoor enclosures. Their enclosure was severely overgrown by huge weeds (3.1(b)-Condition and site). These dogs had made tunnels through the weeds just to get in and out of their shelter. The dog enclosures had the same violations as noted in the last report. The concrete flooring of the enclosures had not been repaired (3.4(c)-Construction) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures) (3.6(a)(2)(ix)-Primary enclosures). Feces was collecting in the huge cracks of the concrete and sustained plant life inside of the enclosures. Fecal & hair accumulation was still a serious problem (3.11(b)-Sanitization of primary enclosures).
The shelters still lacked wind/rain breaks (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements). The entire outdoor area lacked shade or wind breaks (3.4(b)(2)-Shelter from the elements). Despite temperatures and wind chills dipping into the lower 30’s at night, there was no bedding (3.4(b)(1)-Shelter from the elements) and (3.4(b)(4)-Shelter from the elements).
Boxers living on feces in walkway of whelping building. Filthy, feces-covered white cage doors and an old urine-soaked wooden hutch are pictured.
A lot of debris, junk, and garbage were near the side of the whelping building facing the outdoor housing. Tall weeds and grasses were growing in clutter and littering the property around the rest of the facility (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). Chewed buckets and portions of unused kennel crates were strewn about near the food storage station wagon and outdoor housing area (3.10-Watering) (3.11(c)).
There were blue plastic barrels near the first Mastiff’s enclosure (the one with the eye problem). I have seen these blue plastic barrels used as shelters at other facilities. There were empty filthy metal bowls in several of the enclosures (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). Some of the dogs did not even have water (3.10-Watering).
Mother Pomeranian and her puppy living in the filth of the whelping building.
All of the Pomeranians in the outdoor enclosures were severely matted (2.40). Large mats hung from their bodies and I noticed a male Pom in the first enclosure of the outdoor area had diarrhea coating the matted fur of his hind end (2.40). The dogs were not wearing any form of ID (2.50- Identification).
Since I couldn’t find Mr. Wee outside, I looked for him inside the whelping building. The whelping building did not appear to have had any cleaning or improvement of conditions since my last visit. The same Boxers and now adult pups were still being kept inside. There were also a couple of new young adult Boxers. They were huddled on feces around the three-tiered old wood/wire whelping hutch. The walkway floor was covered in feces (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) and teaming with flies, maggots and cockroaches (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, cleaning) (3.11(d)-Pest control). A decaying rat carcass was also lying on the feces covered floor (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(d)). Filthy metal bowls, coated with feces, were flipped over and tossed about on the feces covered floor (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). There was urine soaked wood on the old wooden/wire whelping hutch where the young male boxers had relieved themselves (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). The only light provided for the dogs came from a couple of dirty windows (3.2(c)-Lighting). I did not see any heat or bedding (3.2(a)-Heating) and the ventilation fan was still clogged with dog fur and not operating (3.2(b)-Ventilation). The ammonia and feces odor was very strong (3.2(b)). The fronts of the pens lining each side of the walkway were covered with a thick layer of filth and feces (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, cleaning) and (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
The inside portions of the pens looked like the walkway area – feces, kibble and debris everywhere (3.1)(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). The inside walls of the pens were also coated with filth and feces (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, cleaning). Dirty empty bowls were tossed about (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). Some of the dogs had the lower half portion of a chewed, filthy kennel crate in which to keep their pups (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). Pomeranian puppies were wandering about and sleeping on the feces that coated the floor of their enclosure. The Pomeranians kept inside and out had large feces encrusted mats hanging from their fur (2.40). The situation was still deplorable.
Young Pomeranian living in whelping building.
I then moved further back on the property trying to find Mr. Wee. There were two big fur balls lying besides the out building where the tethered Boxer had been tethered. One of the fur balls was black and white, and the other was predominantly black. To my horror, I discovered that these were not just balls of fur but two dead Pomeranians (2.40) (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). The two old poms had been with Gizmo in the same enclosure last year. They had been placed headfirst near the base of the out building. The had been dead long enough to go through the bloat stage of decomposition and were putting off a very foul odor of death and decay. The bodies were approximately 10-20 foot away from the outdoor housing facility (3.1(f)). The black and white Pomeranian had severely matted fur on the hind end of its body. During this time Mr. Wee was not home. We decided to come back later.
We returned later in the day and Mr. Wee was home. He immediately started the conversation off by explaining the emaciated Boxer. He just said that they said she might have cancer and needed to be put down. She was getting skinnier and skinnier. He did not say anything about a vet. I replied something to the effect that she was old and had a good life. Mr. Wee made no response.
Mr. Wee had Pomeranian pups but his broker had booked them. He stated that many of his puppies go to the Chicago area. Mr. Wee is still selling his dogs to a broker (Patti Noethe, Britt, IA) even though he failed to renew his USDA license in February 2001. The only dog he offered to sell us was an 18-month-old Pomeranian/Dachshund mix. Mr. Wee said that the dog had never been around kids or people but should be okay.
Mr. Wee led us over to the outdoor housing facility where he keeps the Poms and Min Pins. The sickly boxer tried to follow and keep up. He directed us to an enclosure that had been empty on our first visit. He said that he had been keeping the Pomeranian/Dachshund mix, whom we later named Hershey, inside the whelping building. Mr. Wee told us that he had placed Hershey in this enclosure so that we could see him. Hershey was scared and was panting nervously. He was covered with large mats (2.40). Mr. Wee said that we could call the dog whatever we wanted because he didn’t have a name. Mr. Wee offered to enter the enclosure to catch Hershey. Hershey nervously eyed him and kept running away from him. Mr. Wee kept chasing and grabbing at Hershey and finally caught him by the matted hair on his back (2.131(a)(1)-Handling of animals). Hershey frantically tried to pull away from him without success. Mr. Wee handed Hershey to the other investigator. The dog was rigid and shaking with fear. His eyes were very wide. Mr. Wee kept glancing at the place where the two dead Pomeranians had been. Between our visits, Mr. Wee had moved the bodies. But he hadn’t moved them very far. We could see the hair trail. There was also fur sticking out of a tall clump of weeds near the furthest row of enclosures containing Mastiffs.
Again, I caught Mr. Wee looking at the spot where the two dead dogs had been. Then, he looked at me and asked how the ugly bald Maltese was. The association of the two dead dogs that used to be Gizmos’ cagemates was more than evident. He apparently remembered that they had been in the enclosure together and that Gizmo would have suffered the same fate. Mr. Wee then switched topics and said that he wanted 5 for Hershey. He said that he was going to list him tomorrow if we weren’t going to take him. Mr. Wee admitted that the dog needed a bath and grooming (2.40). We said that we would pay 0 for Hershey. Mr. Wee accepted.
He told us that Hershey’s father, a chocolate Pom, had died. Mr. Wee told us that he had gotten rid of all of his Dachshunds, including Hershey’s mother.
Mr. Wee told us that the sickly emaciated Boxer was around 9-years-old and that Boxers are doing well if they live to ten years or more. He offered to get Min Pin and Pomeranian puppies out of the whelping building. Mr. Wee said that his broker gives him 0 per puppy plus bonuses for early bookings of his litters of pups. He said that he had been raising dogs for about 13 years. He pointed to a little male Pom, Leo, in the outdoor area and told us that he was one of his first dogs.
The pups he showed us were filthy and had very cloudy eyes and long toe nails (2.40). They had no ID (2.50). Mr. Wee then opened up the station wagon that was used for food storage area. He scooped out some Diamond brand dog food for us to take home with Hershey (3.1(e)-Storage). Mr. Wee helped to load Hershey into the kennel crate in our vehicle. He said that I should start breeding dogs and get into the business. He told us that we could make decent money if we got hooked up with a broker near a big city. Mr. Wee then went into his house to get wormer and a Parvo/distemper shot for Hershey. Before he went into the house he asked for my last name for his records. He then injected Hershey through his dirty fur (2.40). Mr. Wee stated that he wormed all his dogs three to four times a year, but said not to be alarmed if we saw worms in the dog’s stool. He then asked me when I had adopted Gizmo. I guess he couldn’t find his paperwork
Mr. Wee said that it was nice to see me again and to stop in anytime. He again mentioned I should breed dogs to make money.
Mr. Wee failed to renew his USDA license in February 2001. He told our investigators in the fall of 2001 and 2002 that he is selling to a broker in Iowa. He cannot do this without a federal license. We wonder why the USDA inspector, Dr. Catherine Hovancsak, who inspects other facilities in the area, didn’t bother to see if Mr. Wee was still breeding. We presented our findings on the Wee facility to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jim Moseley during a November meeting in Washington, DC. He then instructed USDA’s APHIS/Animal Care to send an inspector to Mr. Wee’s puppy mill. Animal Care Inspector Melissa Swanda visited Mr. Wee on December 6 2002, and he confirmed that he had sold “several” puppies wholesale to a dealer. Mr. Wee claimed that he was going to sell only through retail channels in the future. Ms. Swanda informed him of the activities that require an AWA license and provided him license application materials. It is incredible that she gave Mr. Wee a license application after seeing the very apparent violations at his facility. Unfortunately, CAPS knew that this would happen.