We Must First Stop Known Puppy Mill Traffickers
Only a handful of Connecticut pet shops still sell commercially bred dogs, and we now have evidence that they are currently sourcing from some of the worst puppy mills in the country.
In response to a public records request to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was provided with the most recent certificates of origin for puppies sold by Connecticut pet stores. These certificates of origin verify that Connecticut pet stores have sourced puppies from breeders and brokers with abysmal animal welfare records.
Every year, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) publishes a “Horrible Hundred” report detailing a sampling of problem puppy mills in the United States, and according to the certificates of origin provided by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, between November 2018 and March 2019 Connecticut pet stores sourced puppies from at least 20 commercial breeders and brokers with violations horrific enough to land them in the HSUS Horrible Hundred report.
Photo: Breeder: Milton Lewis (Nebraska). Buyer: Puppy Kisses, a pet shop in Danbury. Per the Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture, Milton euthanized this dog for fly strike on his nose, a condition that can easily be treated.
Photo credit: HSUS.
It is noteworthy that this is not a complete list of all breeders and brokers from which Connecticut pet stores source puppies, but merely a sampling of facilities that were identified in certificates of origin provided from the state and for which HSUS has recent inspection reports and/or photos from the USDA and state inspection agencies. Despite this limitation, 11 of 13 Connecticut pet shops are represented in the HSUS report.
One breeder is Milton Lewis from Nebraska. USDA inspection reports from October of 2017 and June of 2018 showed no non-compliant items identified. Yet, on an anonymous complaint, the Nebraska state Department of Agriculture conducted four inspections on Milton Lewis’s facility between Sept 2017 and July 2018, all of which that showed very serious welfare violations.
Because Connecticut’s sourcing law only considers USDA inspection reports, it would be perfectly acceptable for a pet store in our state to source from Milton Lewis based on his USDA report, even though state
inspections found egregious violations, including puncture wounds, junk and trash in pens and yard, fly strikes caused by improper pest control, large accumulation of feces and even a “yellow/white lab puppy who had just gotten its leg bitten off.”
A disturbing excerpt from a state report detailed how Lewis had a dog euthanized to “fix the problem” of a poodle being matted with burrs in his fur. He did this in spite of the inspector offering shelter or rescue for the dog. Lewis also euthanized 13 other dogs for frivolous, easily fixable reasons… like simply needing to be groomed.
This illustrates the types of businesses with whom Connecticut pet shops are dealing and also, is a good example of why sourcing laws that rely on USDA compliance are worthless due to weak minimum standards, poor enforcement and aggressive efforts to hide inspection information by the current administration.
A ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits (Allie-Brennan/Doucette amendment to HB 5386) is the only recourse we have left to stop puppy mill traffickers. Connecticut must join California, Maryland and over 300 localities who have sales bans in place to fight puppy mills.
Annie Hornish is Connecticut State Director for The Humane Society of the United States and a member of Sierra Club.
Photo: Breeder: Shelli Kershner (Kansas). Buyer: CT Breeder, a pet shop in Norwalk. The USDA cited Kershner’s facility for long toenails, noting this can make walking painful. Photo credit: HSUS.