New year, new list. I share this list every year and will continue to do so until we have no longer have this problem. Each year the U.S. Humane Society releases its Horrible 100 list of the worst offenders in the commercial dog breeding industry. And each year Ohio maintains its place as second worst state for breeders on this list.
The breeders on this list are the worst of the worst, like Canton, Ohio’s very own Susan Fitzgerald, a repeat offender on the list who admits to neutering puppies on her own without anesthesia. Or John J. Nisley of Loundonville, Ohio who was found guilty of selling underage and sick and injured puppies and has been known to sell over 250 puppies a year. You can read more about the Ohio breeders on this list here: https://blog.humanesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Horrible-Hundred-May-9-2018-FULL-FINAL.pdf
Squirrel is a puppy The HSUS purchased as part of an investigation into an unlicensed Ohio breeder. Susan Fitzgerald’s state commercial breeder license was revoked in 2016 for a host of severe animal care violations. Her name appeared in our 2016 and 2018 Horrible Hundred reports. Fitzgerald was even accused of neutering puppies herself without anesthesia. Yet more than two years later, Fitzgerald is still breeding puppies and selling them online and via her pet store, Whiskers, Wings and Wild Things in Canton, Ohio.
The HSUS had a veterinarian examine Squirrel and she found he had at least two conditions which will likely require surgery: an undescended testicle and a luxating patella (bad knee). These conditions could cost thousands of dollars to remedy.
Ohio has 13 puppy mills on the list, the second highest total after Missouri at 23. Although not much has changed with the breeders on this list unfortunately, one significant change this year is that many of the breeders on this list are now unidentified. Early last year the USDA removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.
Without this information, the US Humane Society can’t evaluate whether USDA is having an impact with its inspections and fines of those in violation of animal welfare laws. Additionally, the general public can’t research to find out if a certain breeder has been found to have violations against them. This was a definite setback in the fight against puppy mills and something that Congress or a new administration will hopefully be able to address at some point soon.
The sad fact is that one-third of the offenders on this list are repeat offenders. The US Humane Society also said in a blog post that the USDA has not revoked a single pet breeder license since the publication of the Horrible 100 list last year. In 2016 the USDA revoked at least nine puppy mill licenses for chronic noncompliance.
Jason and Ashlae Simmons of Simmons Farms in Lebanon, MO were repeatedly found with sick or injured dogs and could not prove they had received veterinary care for their issues. Despite being warned about this problem in August 2017, when inspectors returned in October, a black and white schnauzer was found with discharge in both eyes. Yet again, the licensee was unable to provide documentation regarding the eye issue or prove that they had consulted with their attending veterinarian (MO Dept of Ag/2017).
MO Dept of Ag
Many of these breeders are able to continue in business because many states, including Ohio, do not have strong enough laws on the books to shut these places down. Please check out this month’s issue of CLE Dog Magazine or read this blog to find out more about what we are trying to do in Ohio to regulate breeders better and impose harsher penalties for violations.
It can seem very discouraging to read this list year after year and feel like little has changed to make it better. There is something easy that we can all do though. Never support a store that sells puppies and spread that word that buying a dog from a pet store or online is supporting the continued suffering of dogs at puppy mills across the country. If we cut into the profits for this industry, we can have an impact on puppy mills for good. That’s what keeps me posting this list every year, to inform just one more person that they should never buy a dog from a pet store or online.
And funny enough, while I was working on this article I got an email from Channel 19 to do an interview on the puppy mill ballot initiative and why I got involved. Here’s the clip: