Breeder: Wee, Reuben
City, State Zip: Minnesota
Year: 2001
USDA License: 41-A-0039
USDA Inspector: Catherine Hovancsak, 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: 2001-11-04
Prior CAPS Investivations: 2001-10-31, 2001-11-01, 2001-11-02,
Reuben Wee
Balaton, MN
Catherine Hovancsak, VMO
Last USDA inspection prior to CAPS investigation: 3/28/00
Date of USDA license cancellation (failure to renew): 2/1/01
CAPS investigations: 10/31/01, 11/1/01, 11/2/01, 11/4/01

Approximate number of dogs: 70. Breeds included Miniature Pinschers, Pomeranians, Maltese, Boxers, and Mastiffs.

No one was home. We went to the first set of outdoor enclosures, which were chain-link kennels with very cracked eroding concrete floors (3.4(c)-Outdoor housing facilities, Construction) (3.6(a)(1), 3.6(a)(2)(ix)-Primary enclosures) that were encrusted with feces (3.1(c)(3)-Housing facilities, general; Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary surfaces). On 3/28/00, Dr. Catherine Hovancsak, VMO, cited Mr. Wee under 3.6(a)(1) for cracked cement flooring in the outside pens and stated that there were large separations where feces and dirt was accumulating. She also stated that under 3.6(a)(2)(ix) that the cement flooring was no longer impervious to moisture and could not be cleaned and sanitized. The correct-by date for both violations was 7/1/00. Obviously, he had not fixed the severely cracked cement by the dates of our investigation.

Filthy, matted Maltese living on cracked, eroding concrete floors with fecal accumulation. They had no food, water or bedding.

The outdoor kennels in the first set of enclosures contained Miniature Pinschers, Pomeranians and Maltese. Each enclosure contained one (3.4(b)(2) and (3)-Shelter from the elements) filthy plastic doghouse (3.1(c)(1) (2), and (3)-Housing facilities, general; Surfaces) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures) with very large front openings (3.4(b)(1)-Outdoor housing facilities). There were no wind/rain breaks or shade (3.4(b)(2) and (3)-Shelter from the elements). Even though the temperature was 49 degrees with gusts up to 20 miles per hour and a severe wind chill factor, the dogs had no bedding (3.4(b)(4)-Shelter from the elements).

Filthy, very matted Maltese living on cracked, eroding concrete floors with feces accumulation. They had no food, water or bedding.

Around the kennels, we saw old rusty fence posts, chewed unused plastic buckets, tires, heat lamps, hoses, electrical cords, empty bags of dog food, unused filthy kennel crates and clumps of hair (3.1(f)-Housing facilities, general; Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises). Also dirty buckets filled with stagnant green water (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) were outside of the kennels. One of these buckets had a dead rat floating on the top (3.1(f)) 3.11(d)). A white station wagon near the first set of enclosures was filled with bags of Diamond brand dog food 3.1(e)-Storage). Leaning against one of the doors of the car was a bag of Ol’ Roy dog food (3.1(e). It wasn’t opened at all during the first three days of our investigation even though the dogs desperately needed food (3.9(a)-Feeding).

Rusty bowls with filthy drinking water.

The Miniature Pinschers had a filthy, chewed plastic doghouse with no bedding (3.4(b)(4-Outdoor housing facilities, Shelter from the elements). Min Pins should not live outdoors in cold climates (3.4(a)(1)(ii)- Outdoor housing facilities, restrictions). There were no wind/rain breaks or shade (3.4)(b)(2) and (3)-Shelter from the elements). The rusty metal food (3.1(c)(i)-Surfaces) and water bowls were empty (3.10)-Watering). The concrete floors had more than 48 hours worth of fecal accumulation (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary surfaces). There was feces imbedded in the cracks of the concrete (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.6(a)(1) and (a)(2)(ix)-Primary enclosures).

Rusty water bowl for tethered Mastiff contained algae and filth.

Some of the Min Pins were old and had cataracts (2.40-Veterinary Care). One older black and rust female had a large lump on the lower left side of her abdomen (2.40). Old dogs should not live outdoors (3.4(a)(1)(iii)-Outdoor housing facilities, Restrictions). Most of the Min Pins were trying to climb the sides of the chain-link fencing, and one almost made it to the top (3.1(a)-Structure;construction) (3.6(a)(2)(i) and (ii)-Primary enclosures).

Matted Pomeranians living on feces covered cracked concrete.

The Pomeranians were all matted to some degree (2.40)-Veterinary care). Most had very large clumps of matted hair and were in desperate need of grooming. Matted hair compromises a dog’s ability to maintain body temperature, especially in cold, damp weather. Some of the older dogs had cataracts, (2.40) and walked stiffly. There were six to eight Poms per cage, and only one (3.4(b)(2) and (3)-Shelter from the elements) dirty plastic shelter (3.1(c)-Housing facilities, Surfaces) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). All of the dogs could not fit comfortably in this small shelter. The Poms did not have food, 3.9(a)-Feeding) and they had a minimal amount of stagnant green water in a rusty metal dish (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces) (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). Pomeranians, especially the older ones, should not live outdoors in cold climates (3.4(a)(1)(ii) and (iii)-Outdoor housing facilities, Restrictions).

Matted Pomeranians living on feces covered cracked concrete.

The conditions in the Maltese enclosure were the same as those that we saw in the Pomeranians’ enclosure. The Maltese were filthy with severely matted, feces-encrusted fur (2.40-Veterinary care) (3.6(a)(2)(v)-Primary enclosures). They had trouble seeing and opening their mouths due to these horrible face mats. One Maltese continuously scratched his head and ears and shook his head repeatedly (2.40). The wind blew the encrusted mats aside, thereby exposed areas of skin to the elements. Again, these dogs had no food (3.9(a)-Feeding), water (3.10-Watering) or bedding (3.4(b)(4)-Outdoor housing facilities, Shelter from the elements). Their bowls were rusty and dirty (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces) (3.10-Watering). Maltese also should not live outdoors in cold climates (3.4(a)(1)(ii)-Outdoor housing facilities, Restrictions). These dogs were particularly vulnerable since they had exposed skin.

A dog run with a cracked and broken concrete floor. Note the wire grate on the ground.

Beyond the first set of enclosures, was another outdoor enclosure containing two Mastiffs. They had no food, 3.9(a)-Feeding) and were eating a dead bird (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). There was a large filthy white plastic bucket with stagnant green-brown water (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). The water contained flies and other debris (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). In and around their enclosure were weeds (3.1(b)-Housing facilities, Condition and site) and more than three days worth of fecal accumulation (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) (3.11(c)-Houskeeping for premises).

A Miniature Pinscher with empty bowls. Note the rust in the bowls. The floor of his run was cracked and covered with feces.

The Mastiffs’ shelter was a garden-shed type building in a severe state of disrepair (3.1(a)-Housing facilities, Structure;construction) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures): paint peeling, holes in the roof and sides, dirt floor with holes dug by the dogs (3.4(c)-Outdoor housing facilities, Construction). No bedding was evident (3.4(b)(4)-Shelter from the elements).

Dead rat in contaminated drinking water.

The fencing for the enclosure was not structurally sound (3.1(a). The large Mastiffs were jumping up and placing their front feet on the hog-style panels. Since the panels were not attached securely to the fence posts, the dogs were almost successful in knocking the panels over (3.6(a)(2)(ii) and (iii). There was also a fence panel on the ground inside the pen that posed a danger to the dogs (3.1(b).

A car used to store bags of dog food.

The male Mastiff had a severe limp in his hind leg and was lethargic. He seemed to be in pain (2.40-Veterinary care). He chose to sit rather than move around like his cage-mate who was thin but very active. She had saggy nipples (2.40).

Further back on the property were more outdoor enclosures with dirt floors. Mastiffs and Boxers lived in these enclosures. The first enclosure in this area that I approached contained a very lethargic Mastiff (2.40) who was hiding in his filthy Dogloo shelter, (3.1)(c)(1)-Surfaces) (3.6(a)(1-Primary enclosures) with no bedding (3.4(b)(4)-Shelter from the elements). This dog kept acting like he/she wanted to vomit (2.40). There were very large weeds going to seed in his pen (3.1(b)-Housing facilities, general; Condition and site). He had dug a very deep hole in the dirt floor (3.1(c)(2)-Surfaces) (3.4(c)-Outdoor housing facilities, Construction). I wondered why there was a dirt floor since Dogloo shelters normally come with a built-in plastic floor. There was no food (3.9(a)-Feeding), and the green-brown drinking water was in a dirty plastic bucket (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles).

Tethered Boxer.

The next enclosure, which was made of hog-style panels, had two Boxers. They had a Dogloo shelter with a dirt floor. The thin (2.40), scared female brindle Boxer approached me and stayed crouched near the ground. The other Boxer would not come of the shelter; it just nervously peered out at me and then hid inside. These dogs also had no food (3.9(a)-Feeding). The green-brown water was in a dirty plastic dish (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles).

Next to the Boxer pen was another Mastiff with an injured hind end who limped (2.40). This dog had the same pen conditions as those in the Boxer enclosure.

Tethered Mastiff. I encountered a tethered female Mastiff 3.6(c)(4)-Prohibited means of primary enclosure). She had approximately three feet of tether and was walking through her own excrement (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.11(a). This dog had an inflamed left eye in the area of her tear duct and a tick on her left ear (2.40). She had no food (3.9(a) and a small amount of stagnant greenish-brown water in a filthy chewed plastic bowl (3.10, 3.11(b)(2). Her shelter was a dirty plastic dome (3.1(c)(1), 3.6(a)(1) – a cheaper and inferior version of a Dogloo – with a dirt floor and no bedding (3.4(b)(4). She had dug holes in this shelter in an effort to keep warm (3.1(c)(2), 3.4(c), 3.6(a)(2)(vi).

Across from the tethered Mastiff was an older female Boxer with about four feet of tether (3.6(c)(4). An old, filthy dome also served as shelter (3.1(c)(1)-Housing facilities, Surfaces) (3.6(a)(1)-Primary enclosures). It was cracked and broken (3.1(a)-Structure; construction) (3.4(c)-Outdoor housing facilities, Construction). The front section had broken off and was missing (3.4(b)(1)-Shelter from the elements). This dog had also dug deep holes in and out of her shelter (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.4(c)-Construction) (3.6(a)(2)(iii) and (iv)-Primary enclosures) and had chewed and scratched the wood of the nearby shed-type building (3.4(c). She was walking and standing on her own excrement (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). There was no food (3.9(a)-Feeding). Her dirty, chewed plastic bowl contained a small amount of stagnant green water (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles).

On the other side of the shed-type building was an outdoor chain link enclosure with a dirt floor that contained a young adult Mastiff. The shed-type building formed one side of her too small enclosure and served as her shelter (3.1(c)(i)-Surfaces). The dog had really scratched the wood (3.4(c)-Shelter from the elements) and the door was propped open with a cement block (3.1(a)-Structure;construction). There was a lot of fecal accumulation (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). A filthy white metal pan had stagnant green water (3.10-Watering) (3.11(b)(2)-Sanitization of food and water receptacles). There was no food (3.9(a)-Feeding). This Mastiff had a lot of energy and really wanted to play and run around (3.8(a)-Exercise).

Across from the first set of outdoor enclosures, I saw a severely weathered building (3.1(a)-Structure;construction) This building came to my attention because of the foul odor (3.2(b)-Indoor housing facilities, Ventilation) and the barking dogs inside. As I entered the unheated building (3.2(a)-Heating, cooling and temperature), a mother Boxer and her two young puppies, all running loose, greeted me 3.6(a)(2)(iii)-Primary enclosures). They had no food (3.9(a)-Feeding), water (3.10-Watering) or a clean place with bedding (3.2(a)-Heating, cooling and temperature).

The ammonia,, feces and filth odor overwhelmed me (3.2(b)-Ventilation). The building had very minimal lighting 3.2(c)-Lighting). Heat lamps were hanging from the ceiling, but only one had been turned on. A ventilation fan, clogged with dog fur, was not operating (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces) (3.2(b)-Ventilation).

There was a central walkway. Filthy white pens, floors covered with feces (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures), lined sides of the long walls of the building. The floor of the walkway was completely covered with feces, both new and old (3.11(a). In some places, it had two feet of accumulation (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). The mother Boxer and her puppies watched me as I slipped on the feces and almost fell.

The walkway had empty bowls that were flipped over and lying in the feces and debris (3.10). In the middle of the walkway there was an old empty three-tiered wood and wire whelping hutch that had feces and hair (3.1(b)-Condition and site).

All of the pens were damp with urine and covered with feces (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning), 3.6(a)(2)(v)-Primary enclosures) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). The walls of the pens were smeared with a thick coating of feces (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) 3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). There was no bedding (3.2(a)-Indoor housing facilities, Heating, cooling, and temperature). The dogs rested on the driest spots of compacted fecal matter. I saw empty, rusty metal bowls (3.1(c)(1)(i)-Surfaces) with no food (3.9(a)-Feeding) or water (3.10)-Watering).

Some of the pens had no light (3.2(c)-Indoor housing facilities, Lighting). Thus, it was difficult to see the black/rust Min Pins in their pens. These dogs had the ability to jump high enough to clear the walls of their pen thereby falling into other adjoining pens (3.6(a)(2)(ii) and (iii)-Primary enclosures).

Pomeranians in a pen on the right turned in repetitive circles on the feces covered floor (2.40(b)(3)-Veterinary care). A mother Pomeranian in another pen on the right side did her best to care for her puppies as they huddled on dry, cold feces (3.1(c)(1)-Surfaces) (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal) (3.2(a)-Heating, cooling and temperature) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).

In one of the pens on the left side, I noticed a filthy table covered with dirt, feces, medications (2.40(b)(1)-Veterinary care) dirty syringes (2.40(b)(1)), old plastic milk jugs containing yellow liquid, scissors, pliers and a hammer (3.1(b)-Condition and site) (3.1(c)(2)-Maintenance and replacement of surfaces). A veterinarian at Marshall Animal Hospital in Minnesota told me that she has heard that Mr. Wee uses the hammer to kill unwanted dogs (2.40(b)(4)-Veterinary care). Underneath the table, Poms ran around on feces (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces, Cleaning) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).

The pen next to the pen with the table had liquid seeping onto the feces in the walkway (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). This pen contained six Poms (three were very old) and an old Maltese, who was bald with the exception of very matted tufts of hair on his head and clumps of feces coated matted clumps of fur on his front legs (2.40-Veterinary care). The tips of his ears were scarred from frostbite (2.40) (3.4(a)(1)(ii) and (iii)-Outdoor housing facilities, Restrictions). The younger Poms were trampling the Maltese (3.6(c)(2)-Primary enclosures, Compatability). This pen had the same deplorable conditions as the other pens. The empty plastic bowls were filthy and very chewed (3.9(a) and (b)-Feeding) (3.10-Watering).

The atrocious conditions were present each day of our investigation. While we were at the facility on 11/1/01, Mr. Wee was still not home. His son showed up and said that his father was out of town. The son said he didn’t know who was caring for the dogs and stated that he didn’t do anything with the dogs. He didn’t even look at the dogs to see if they needed food and water. On 11/2/01, Mr. Wee had not returned. His wife answered the door, and we expressed interest in buying a dog. She said that she never goes near the dogs and knows nothing about them. I finally reached Mr. Wee by phone on 11/3/01 to arrange an appointment. He requested that I come before 9 a.m. since he was spending the entire day at his church to put together a supper.

Mr. Wee was waiting for us by the whelping building on 11/4/01. The bag of Ol’ Roy dog food had been opened, yet none of the dogs had food. Some of the dogs in the first enclosure had water in their filthy bowls. He told us that he uses a broker in Britt, Iowa. The only USDA licensed “B” dealer in Britt is Patti Noethe, a woman who sells most of her dogs to Chicago-area pet shops.

We adopted the old, bald Maltese, whom we named “Gizmo” and a very overweight Min Pin, whom we named “Maxx.” Maxx had no USDA tag (2.50(a)(1)-Identification). I didn’t fill out USDA paperwork for either dog (2.75(a)(1). Dr. Hovancsak cited Mr. Wee under 2.75(a)(1) on 3/28/00 because the record of dogs on hand was missing 10 dogs. He is still not keeping an accurate record since he transferred Gizmo and Maxx without filling out the required USDA paperwork. Gizmo had severe gum disease and required two dental surgeries (2.40). The vet had to remove all of his teeth except for his canines, which required special tissue regeneration in order to be saved. He also has cataracts, and his toenails are permanently stained yellow from constant contact with urine 3.6(a)(2)(v)-Primary enclosures). The vet has not been able to determine why Gizmo lost his fur. Maxx also had gum disease and needed dental surgery (2.40). The vet had to remove some of his teeth. We placed Maxx with Min Pin rescue. Gizmo is in permanent foster care because of his age and fragile condition.

This is one of the most atrocious USDA licensed facilities that CAPS has investigated. The conditions are appalling! Dr. Hovancsak is finding just a small percentage of the violations. Dr. Hovancsak has not been back to Mr. Wee’s facility since the 3/28/00 inspection to see if he has corrected the four non-compliant items she listed on his report: 3.4(b) for two chewed dog houses in a Mastiff pen (correct-by date of 5/1), 3.6(a)(1) (see above), 3.6(a)(2)(ix) (see above), and 2.75(a)(a) (see above).

How could it be that Dr. Hovancsak found no non-compliances on 1/21/99 when just 13 months earlier (12/3/97) she found the following violations: 3.6(c)(1)(iii), for improper headroom 3.11(a) for an excessive accumulation of feces and food waste, 2.35 for improper recordkeeping (this should have been a 2.75 because 2.35 applies to research facilities), and 2.40(b)(2) for a number of matted Maltese and Pomeranians. With the exception of the violation under 3.6(c)(1)(iii), I encountered all of the other non-compliances. In addition, Dr. Hovancsak has cited Mr. Wee three times (8/15/98, 12/2/98 and 2/3/00) under 2.126 for not having a responsible person available to conduct an inspection. Mr. Wee seems to be out quite a bit, yet no one – not even his wife or son – takes responsibility for the dogs. This is very serious problem that Dr. Hovancsak is not properly addressing.

Mr. Wee failed to renew his USDA license in 2001. Therefore, the USDA canceled his license on February 1, 2001. He is illegally operating a commercial breeding facility and selling dogs for resale without a federal license. USDA should seize Mr. Wee’s dogs and fine him. If they are not willing to do this, then local authorities should take action. In addition, Mr. Wee should be charged with cruelty and neglect and prohibited from owning any animals ever again.

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