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Iowa dog breeders score worst compliance record
36% of nation’s breeder violations in 2022 come from Iowa
By Clark Kauffman - Iowa Capital Dispatch
Feb. 10, 2023 6:00 am
Iowa’s dog breeders had the worst record of compliance with federal regulations in 2022, accounting for 36 percent of all violations cited nationally.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the nation’s dog and cat breeders and brokers for 795 violations in 2022, a total that excludes citations for “missed” inspections resulting from USDA officials not gaining access to the operations. Of the 795 cited violations, Iowa breeders were responsible for 286. In addition, six Iowa breeders received official warnings from the USDA in 2022.
According to federal data compiled by Bailing Out Benji, a national animal-welfare group based in Iowa, the states with the greatest number of violations in 2022 were:
- Iowa: 286 violations
- Missouri: 109 violations
- Wisconsin: 68 violations
- Arkansas: 46 violations
- Indiana: 43 violations
Records of the USDA violations are collected and published quarterly by Bailing Out Benji’s founder, Mindi Callison, who said it’s “heartbreaking” that so many companion animals are suffering or showing signs of neglect at Iowa facilities.
“The USDA clearly does little to shut down problematic facilities that show no signs of wanting to improve,” she said. “It is time for the state of Iowa to end the USDA loophole and require federally licensed facilities to follow our strong state standards to ensure that animals are being treated humanely.”
Callison cited the recent case of Henry Sommers, an Appanoose County breeder who was fined $12,600 late last year and was more recently charged with seven counts of animal neglect.
“After a decade of repeat violations, it took complaints from a third-party organization and an investigation from the sheriff to finally shut that facility down,” Callison said. “His license was never revoked by the USDA.”
Bailing Out Benji recently completed a review of all USDA violations cited at breeders in the fourth quarter of 2022. During that period, nine Iowa breeders were cited for violations — the second highest number in the nation. Missouri topped the fourth-quarter list, with 17 of its breeders cited for violations between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.
The Iowa violators in the fourth quarter of 2022 were:
Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennel, West Point: After being cited for violations in the first, second and third quarters of 2022, Kruse was cited for one repeat, direct violation in December. The violation pertained to the business’ attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care for eight of the dogs. Kruse was also cited for four non-critical violations pertaining to housing facilities, primary enclosures, feeding, and veterinary care for dogs.
The inspector alleged a male dog was observed shaking its head repeatedly — a common sign of an ear infection. The inspector found that the dog’s inner right ear was red, with several small scabs, and there was a buildup of greasy brown material within the ear canal. The dog wasn’t being treated for the abnormality.
The inspector also found a female terrier with “a heavy buildup of a hard, thick, brown material encasing 50% to 80% of all the teeth on both sides of the mouth.” In some areas, the terrier’s gum tissue was swollen, red and receding away from the roots of the teeth. The condition was not being treated.
In addition, there was a dog with reddened eyes and a thick, green, mucus-like discharge from both eyes. Kruse had not noticed the condition of the dog’s eyes and no treatment was being provided.
The inspector also made note of a female bulldog with reddened skin and hair loss as well as a swollen left front paw. The same dog’s ears were “thickened with a cobblestone-like appearance” and were marked by scabs and signs of infection. “The current condition of this animal has not been noticed and no treatment is being provided or has been planned,” the inspector reported.
The bulldog also had a large swelling on its abdomen that indicated a possible hernia that could be the cause of pain and discomfort for the dog. The potential hernia had not been noticed by Krause prior to the inspection and no treatment was being provided.
Another dog at the kennel was found to have large areas of hair loss on its back and trunk, with reddened skin and signs of a potential infection or skin irritation. A female dog was noted to have “significantly matted” hair with a few “ropelike mats” and thick, firm clumps of hair that were matted tightly against the skin.
The inspector also examined one enclosure that contained three small Maltese dogs. “The legs of the smallest dog fell through the holes in the flooring multiple times,” the inspector reported.
Daniel Kauffman of Dee Kay Bulldogs, Bloomfield: During a routine inspection in October, Kauffman was cited for one non-critical violation pertaining to record keeping. The inspector alleged there was no inventory information on hand related to 15 puppies.
Kauffman sells to pet retailers in at least five states, according to government records obtained by Bailing Out Benji. Prior to the 2022 visit, Kauffman’s business was last inspected in 2019 when it was operating under a different license.
Eli Schrock of Hillview Kennels, Drakesville: During a November visit, a USDA inspector cited Schrock for two non-critical violations pertaining to veterinary care for dogs. The inspector alleged the business had none of the required records showing puppies were being properly dewormed or vaccinated for Bordetella, a bacterium associated with respiratory disease in dogs.
Schrock sells to pet retailers in at least eight states, according to government records collected by Bailing Out Benji.
Henry Detweiler, Fairbank: During a November visit, a USDA inspector cited Detweiler for six non-critical violations pertaining to the business’ attending veterinarian, inadequate veterinary care and record keeping.
The inspector alleged Detweiler was treating dogs’ diarrhea with a nutritional supplement intended for cattle, called Knock Out, and did so without consulting a veterinarian. Also, at least eight adult dogs were not up to date on distemper, Parvovirus and rabies vaccines. In addition, Detweiler had not tested 10 percent of the kennel’s animals for intestinal parasites as required according to the business’ own veterinary care program.
Henry Sommers of Happy Puppy, Cincinnati: After being cited for violation in the first, second and third quarters of 2022, Happy Puppy — also known as Happy Puppys and Happy Puppies — was inspected by the USDA in November and cited for one non-critical violation pertaining to housing facilities for the dogs.
In December, the USDA fined Sommers $12,600 for violations cited between 2019 and 2022. Last week, Sommers was criminally charged with seven counts of animal neglect. Sommers has sold dogs to pet retailers in at least one state, according to government records collected by Bailing Out Benji.
Jodie Manning of Blue Bird Ranch, Monona: During a November visit, a USDA inspector cited Manning for one non-critical violation pertaining to cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control.
The inspector alleged excrement was not being removed from the kennels on a timely basis. Underneath two indoor enclosures, the inspector reported finding a “pool of urine and organic material.” The inspector reported there was “an obvious odor in the kennel.”
Blue Bird Ranch has sold dogs to at least one pet store in Connecticut and to the broker JAKS, according to government records collected by Bailing Out Benji. Blue Bird Ranch is a new licensee, but the business was cited for violations the first quarter of 2022 when it operated under a now-canceled license under the name of Julie Halverson.
Loren Yoder, Riverside: After being cited for violations in the first, second and third quarters of 2022, Yoder was issued an official warning from the USDA for violations found during a September visit. Yoder has since canceled his USDA license.
Scott Swanson of S & J Kennel (Site No. 2), Ollie: After being cited for violations in the second quarter of 2022, Swanson was cited for two non-critical violations during a November inspection by the USDA. The violations pertained to housing facilities and veterinary care for dogs.
The inspector alleged the metal feeders used to deliver food to puppies were damaged, with broken metal at the corners, creating jagged and sharp edges that were coming into direct contact with the dogs.
Also, eight French bulldog puppies had no written medical records documenting any vaccinations and deworming treatments they were to have received. Swanson sells dogs to at least one pet retailer in Virginia, according to government records collected by Bailing Out Benji.
Stephen Schrock of Shady Lawn Kennel, Bloomfield: During an October inspection, USDA officials cited Schrock for one non-critical violation pertaining to primary enclosures for animals. The inspector alleged there was a gap in the kennel flooring large enough to let a dog’s foot pass through, creating a risk of injury.
Stephen Schrock sells dogs to pet retailers in at least five states, according to government records collected by Bailing Out Benji.
This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.