Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup (Southeast Michigan) Message Board › The Family Puppy/Family of Pets (Exposed)

The Family Puppy/Family of Pets (Exposed)

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,465






Noble Co. Zoning Approves Dog Breeding Kennels

By Rachel Martin

http://www.indianasne...­

January 2, 2013 Updated Jan 2, 2013 at 11:42 PM EST

ALBION, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals approved dog breeding kennels at their meeting Wednesday night, making animal advocates concerned.

Still up and running. Two of six dog breeding kennels up for review Wednesday night were approved by the Noble County ZBA.

Despite concerns from animal advocates, the board approved the kennel operations saying the board’s concern is whether the breeders are following land use ordinances, not how they're running their operations.
Some ordinance regulations include noise levels, setback distances from other properties, fencing, and overall appearance.

Advocates say they’ve some of the kennels are breeding and housing anywhere from 14 to 200 dogs for wholesale operations. Although they're not thrilled with how some of the animals are being treated, advocates are concerned with how the kennels will impact their community.

“Taking care of that many animals is a public safety concern from a health standpoint. Proper septic systems, disease control, pest control--those are all things that can directly effect the quality of life here. The quality of care and the conditions these animals live in can directly affect property values,” said Lori Gagen, Executive Director of Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion.

Gagen says some of the kennels approved were commercial operations, meaning they breed and sell large quantities of dogs to pet stores and retailers.

As of 10:30 Wednesday night, the ZBA was still discussing decisions on the other four kennel breeding operations. This story will be updated as more details become available.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,466


http://www.indianaeco...­

1/3/2013 9:09:00 AM

Noble County BZA OKs 200-dog kennel

Bob Braley, News-Sun

ALBION — A standing-room-only crowd heard the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting approve a special exception for a large dog kennel Wednesday night.

Most of those at the meeting didn’t have the opportunity to speak because of how boards of zoning appeals work under Indiana law.

The BZA considered six different dog kennels at the meeting in the Dekko Room of the Noble County Office Complex-South just south of Albion. More than 100 people attended the meeting.

BZA Chairman George Bennett explained that the BZA needed to address zoning issues, not other concerns, and that its rules limit who can speak about any particular request before it.

“An interested party is the petitioner and any adjacent landowner,” Bennett said. He proposed to expand the definition to include those who reside within one-half mile of the petitioner for Wednesday’s hearing, to which the BZA members agreed by consensus.

“I suspect there are persons who are here from a greater distance than a half a mile,” Bennett said. Some people who would like to have input do not meet the definition of interested parties under BZA rules and would not be eligible to speak, he said.

Pam Sordyl, a dog advocate based in Clarkston, Mich., organized opposition to many of the kennels.
“There is no animal control officer, standards or limits in place to protect dogs used for breeding only,” Sordyl said in a news release issued before the meeting.

The BZA is charged only with considering land-use concerns such as zoning, not whether a kennel should be in a place or not, Bennett said. Discussion needed to be limited to concerns over which the BZA has jurisdiction, he added.

The biggest issue was with the biggest kennel, one with up to 200 dogs at 2084 W. C.R. 1150N near Rome City, owned by Marlin and Erma Bontrager.

The Bontragers’ kennel has been found in violation of some U.S. Department of Agriculture rules as recently as an October 2012 inspection. Their kennel had been operating without receiving a special exception, so it needed an after-the-fact approval to continue operation.

The Bontragers’ attorney, Wendy Gensch, said other documents reflected that it was a kennel and had a certificate of occupancy. There was no effort to hide the kennel, she said; the Bontragers simply were unaware of the procedure they needed to follow.

Marlin Bontrager is a member of the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare and is regulated and licensed by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the American Kennel Club, Gensch said. The USDA, state board of animal health or AKC could shut him down for serious violations, she added.

Gensch read a letter from the USDA veterinarian, Hillary Reinholt. who monitors the Bontragers’ kennel and said the dogs there are well cared for. “Mr. Bontrager feels it is important to breed high-quality dogs,” Gensch read from the letter.

The kennel structure and business add to the area economy, Gensch said.
Two neighbors spoke in support of the Bontragers’ request.

During the meeting, Sordyl presented a petition signed by two neighbors ostensibly opposed to the kennel request. One of those neighbors also had signed a petition in support of the same kennel.
When the board had Sordyl report her address, laughter broke out in the room. Sordyl had posted pictures on Facebook of the kennel, allegedly showing health violations there.

Noble County zoning administrator Steve Kirkpatrick had conducted a surprise visit at the kennel because of the question of whether a kennel license had been received. Referring to the allegations connected to the photos, he said, “I didn’t see any of that.”

Bennett said the kennel is an agricultural operation in a niche providing to the consumer, which is consistent with Noble County’s comprehensive plan.

The special exception for the Bontragers’ kennel was approved by a 5-0 vote, on the condition that it was not transferable to future owners.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,467


6 Noble County kennels receive zoning approval

http://www.journalgaz...­

Vivian Sade | The Journal Gazette

Six dog kennels capable of housing 324 canines received after-the-fact approval from the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals.

About 115 people filled the board room Wednesday, said Plan Director Steve Kirkpatrick, who oversees the board but is not a voting member. Only neighbors who lived within a half-mile of a kennel were allowed to speak for or against the homeowners’ belated zoning change requests.

The kennels were already operating, selling puppies retail and wholesale, before several complaints brought the issue before the board.

Kirkpatrick said he had never heard of the kennels and was shocked to find six at one time in violation of county zoning regulations. One kennel housed nearly 200 dogs and puppies.

“There is no reason it should have gotten this far,” Kirkpatrick said. “If people have any doubts as to what they can and can’t do on their property, they need to call the planning and zoning departments first.”
In Noble County, homeowners are limited to owning a maximum of four dogs over the age of four months in a typical residential setting, Kirkpatrick said.

The five-member board is made up of Noble County residents, and the board had to decide each case based on land use only, he said.

“The only thing they consider is if that parcel of land is compatible for that number of dogs and if it’s compatible with the county’s comprehensive plan,” he said.

“Another agency inspects the kennels; we have nothing to do with that,” Kirpatrick said. “There seems to be a general misconception about what the zoning board does.”

Kennels must undergo an annual inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The largest kennel, owned by Marlin and Erma Bontrager at 2084 W. County Road 1150 N. near Rome City, was found in violation of USDA rules after its most recent inspection in October.

While Bontrager’s site was approved, the board set conditions that included a maximum of 200 dogs; the business is non-transferable to future owners; no sales to the public (wholesale only); and no boarding of other dogs. More neighbors spoke in favor of the kennels than against them, Kirkpatrick said.

Sitting in the front row was Lori Gagen, director at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, and Pam Sordye, director of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan. Both women were vocal in their opposition to the kennels, although neither one was allowed to speak at the meeting.

Sordye was the first person to file a complaint against the Bontrager operation.

She was investigating a Michigan-based pet store chain, Family of Pets, when Sordye discovered the chain received the bulk of its puppies through Indiana pet breeders in Noble, LaGrange and Elkhart counties, she said.
Through shipping records, she found that Bontrager was a frequent supplier of puppies, and the health and care of some of the dogs had been questioned, she said.

John Stottele, owner of Family of Pets, which includes five Family Puppy stores in southeast Michigan, said in an email that, as of October, he is no longer buying puppies from Bontrager.

Gagen said it was not so much the “puppy mill talk and the unanimous votes” that upset her as it was the process, which she called “broken.”

“I tried and tried to find out prior to the meeting if we would be allowed to speak and no one could tell me,” Gagen said. “How can they be responsible stewards of county government when they make it so hard for citizens to be informed?

“We spent days collecting data for a presentation only to find out we would not be allowed to speak,” she said.
Other kennel sites approved Wednesday include:
•Guy and Rebecca Staples, 3837 S. 925 W., Larwill – breeding, boarding and training; maximum of 14 dogs; must build a 12-foot-by-40-foot soundproof addition; sanitary waste disposal by land application; business is non-transferable to future owners; expires in one year and must be in compliance to be renewed.
•John and Leona Troyer, 11322 N. 700 W., Topeka – breeding and wholesale and retail sales; maximum of 55 dogs; non-transferable.
•Jacob and Lorene Schwartz, 10444 N. 600 W., Ligonier – wholesale and retail sales; no boarding of other dogs; maximum of 20 dogs.
•Jacob, Susie, Orvan and Marlene Fry, 11685 N. 600 W., Topeka – breeding and wholesale and retail sales; no boarding of other dogs; maximum of 20 adult dogs; non-transferable.
•Dean, Wilma and Loren Miller, 6559 W. 900 N., Ligonier – wholesale and retail sales; maximum of 60 dogs; no boarding of other dogs; non-transferable.

Correction

Because of a reporting error, a Page 1C story Friday about six kennels approved by the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals included incorrect information about what type of permit the Miller family was given.. The Miller family at 6559 W. 900 N., Ligonier, asked to be permitted to keep up to 60 dogs, but the board set a maximum of 15. Also, the name of Pam Sordyl, director of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, was misspelled.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,468
Six kennels to seek county approval

Michigan group opposes largest operation

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:58 am, Thu Dec 20, 2012.

By Bob Braley

http://www.kpcnews.co...­

USDA report on Bontrager inspection

A U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspection on Oct. 22 cites repeat offenses for inadequate veterinary care at a commercial dog kennel owned by Marlin and Erma Bontrager.

ALBION — Owners of six dog kennels are scheduled to seek special zoning exceptions at the Jan. 2, 2013, meeting of the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals, and a Michigan woman is working to organize opposition to one of the kennels.

All six of the requests are to allow existing kennels to continue operations, said Noble County zoning administrator Steve Kirkpatrick.

The exception requests were submitted because a change in the county’s zoning ordinance will require them, Kirkpatrick said.

Requesting special exceptions are:

• Marlin and Erma Bontrager for a commercial dog kennel not to exceed 200 dogs at 2084 W. C.R. 1150N;

• Jacob M. and Lorene E. Schwartz for a commercial dog kennel with a maximum of 20 dogs at 10444 N. C.R. 600W;

• Jacob D. O. and Susie Fry and Orvan Lee and M. Fry for a commercial dog kennel with a maximum of 20 adult dogs at 11685 N. C.R. 600W;

• Dean H. and Wilma E. Miller and Loren Miller for a commerical dog kennel with a maximum of 60 dogs at 6659 W. C.R. 900N;


• John O. and Leona Troyer for a commercial dog kennel with a maximum of 55 dogs at 11322 N. C.R. 700W; and

• Guy and Rebecca Staples for a dog kennel with a maximum of 14 dogs at 3837 S. C.R. 925W.

All six kennels would be for breeding. Only the Staples kennel includes a plan for boarding and training dogs. They would sell to the public. All the others except the Bontragers would offer wholesale and retail sales.

Pam Sordyl of Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup for Southeast Michigan wants the BZA to oppose the Bontragers’ operation because of its large-scale commercial breeding. She said the Bontragers kenneled more than 170 dogs as of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspection on Oct. 22.

The Oct. 22 inspection report cites repeat offenses for inadequate veterinary care at the facility for puppies with eye problems, issues with excessive amounts of feces in the washdown portion of the adult animal housing building and clogged drains in the adult animal housing area.

The inspection is described in the report as a routine inspection.

A review of the Bontagers’ inspections since 2007 show there have been years when they had violations, and others when their kennel passed a USDA inspection with no violations.

Sordyl says the Bontragers’ large operation is working against Michigan operations that attempt to place homeless animals. She said Bontrager sells puppies to chain retail stores outside Indiana, including The Family Puppy in Michigan.

Marlin Bontrager said he would not comment on the issue until after the Jan. 2 BZA hearing.

USDA report online

A PDF version of the full report on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspection of Marlin and Erma Bontrager is available with the online version of this story at kpcnews.com.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,469


Attorney Wendy Gensch, standing, speaks on behalf of her clients, Erma and Marlin Bontrager, as they seek a special exception to allow continued use of a large dog kennel near Rome City Wednesday at a Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting near Albion. The BZA approved the request 5-0 Wednesday.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:29 am, Thu Jan 3, 2013.

BZA OKs controversial kennel
By Bob Braley

http://www.kpcnews.co...­

ALBION — A standing-room-only crowd heard the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting approve a special exception for a large dog kennel Wednesday night.

Most of those at the meeting didn’t have the opportunity to speak because of how boards of zoning appeals work under Indiana law.


The BZA considered six different dog kennels at the meeting in the Dekko Room of the Noble County Office Complex-South just south of Albion. More than 100 people attended the meeting.

BZA Chairman George Bennett explained that the BZA needed to address zoning issues, not other concerns, and that its rules limit who can speak about any particular request before it.

“An interested party is the petitioner and any adjacent landowner,” Bennett said. He proposed to expand the definition to include those who reside within one-half mile of the petitioner for Wednesday’s hearing, to which the BZA members agreed by consensus.

“I suspect there are persons who are here from a greater distance than a half a mile,” Bennett said. Some people who would like to have input do not meet the definition of interested parties under BZA rules and would not be eligible to speak, he said.

Pam Sordyl, a dog advocate based in Clarkston, Mich., organized opposition to many of the kennels.

“There is no animal control officer, standards or limits in place to protect dogs used for breeding only,” Sordyl said in a news release issued before the meeting.

The BZA is charged only with considering land-use concerns such as zoning, not whether a kennel should be in a place or not, Bennett said. Discussion needed to be limited to concerns over which the BZA has jurisdiction, he added.

The biggest issue was with the biggest kennel, one with up to 200 dogs at 2084 W. C.R. 1150N near Rome City, owned by Marlin and Erma Bontrager.

The Bontragers’ kennel has been found in violation of some U.S. Department of Agriculture rules as recently as an October 2012 inspection. Their kennel had been operating without receiving a special exception, so it needed an after-the-fact approval to continue operation.

The Bontragers’ attorney, Wendy Gensch, said other documents reflected that it was a kennel and had a certificate of occupancy. There was no effort to hide the kennel, she said; the Bontragers simply were unaware of the procedure they needed to follow.

Marlin Bontrager is a member of the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare and is regulated and licensed by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the American Kennel Club, Gensch said. The USDA, state board of animal health or AKC could shut him down for serious violations, she added.


Gensch read a letter from the USDA veterinarian, Hillary Reinholt. who monitors the Bontragers’ kennel and said the dogs there are well cared for. “Mr. Bontrager feels it is important to breed high-quality dogs,” Gensch read from the letter.

The kennel structure and business add to the area economy, Gensch said.

Two neighbors spoke in support of the Bontragers’ request.

During the meeting, Sordyl presented a petition signed by two neighbors ostensibly opposed to the kennel request. One of those neighbors also had signed a petition in support of the same kennel.

When the board had Sordyl report her address, laughter broke out in the room. Sordyl had posted pictures on Facebook of the kennel, allegedly showing health violations there.

Noble County zoning administrator Steve Kirkpatrick had conducted a surprise visit at the kennel because of the question of whether a kennel license had been received. Referring to the allegations connected to the photos, he said, “I didn’t see any of that.”

Bennett said the kennel is an agricultural operation in a niche providing to the consumer, which is consistent with Noble County’s comprehensive plan.

The special exception for the Bontragers’ kennel was approved by a 5-0 vote, on the condition that it was not transferable to future owners.

Guy and Rebecca Staples requested a special exception for a kennel with a maximum of 14 dogs at 3837 S. C.R. 925W-57 at a Larwill address in Noble County.

The dogs are hunting dogs, and Staples said he does some training of hunting dogs for others. He sells very few of the dogs. He asked to add a 14-by-40 addition to his pole barn to help cut down on noise by enclosing the kennel runs.

One neighbor opposed the Staples’ proposal due to the noise of the barking dogs.

The BZA unanimously approved the special exception for one year, with the addition to be completed within six months, and nontransferable to future owners.

“Barking dogs and kennels are one of the biggest problems we have in Noble County here,” BZA member Tony Feichter said.

Special exceptions for kennels at 10444 N. C.R. 600W and 6559 W. C.R. 900N, and variances for kennels at 11685 N. C.R. 600W and 11322 N. C.R. 700W, all were addressed later in the meeting. A report on action regarding those kennels will appear in Friday’s edition of The News Sun.

Also Wednesday, the BZA elected its officers for 2013. Bennett was re-elected chairman. Feichter was chosen as vice chairman.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,470






Group petitions large-scale dog breeder

Kennel requesting to house 200 adult dogs

Updated: Thursday, 03 Jan 2013, 9:05 AM EST
Published : Wednesday, 02 Jan 2013, 2:54 PM EST
Drew Blair

http://www.wane.com/d...­

NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) - UPDATE: Wednesday night the Noble County Zoning Board met to hear the requests of six petitioners or dog breeders. In a meeting that lasted over four hours, board members approved all six requests for kennel licenses.

---------------------------------

More than 800 people have signed an online petition against the applications for several large-scale dog breeding organizations up for review Wednesday night in Noble County.

An animal awareness group based in Michigan launched a campaign to prohibit operations like Marlin Bontrager’s in Rome City, Ind. Botranger’s breeding facility is the largest supplier for The Family Puppy, a Michigan pet store chain according to Pam Sodyl of Puppy Mill Awareness Southeast Michigan .

Bontrager has applied for a special exemption to kennel more than four dogs at a given time. His request to house around 200 adult dogs will be addressed along with five other individual applicants at a 7:00 p.m. meeting of the Noble County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Lori Gagen, the director for Black Pine Animal Sanctuary joined the awareness group’s cause upon hearing of the petition.

“This is just something I don’t want to see in my hometown,” Gagen said. “There’s a big difference between a family that is a private breeder of purebred dogs and someone who is producing these by the hundreds and selling them in retailers outside the immediate area.”

Gagen said findings from her own research motivated her to encourage the BZA to deny the requests.

“A very big part of our mission here at Black Pine involves the responsible ownership of animals regardless of what kind of animals they are,” she said.

In October 2012, an inspection listed as “routine” by the USDA reported several violations on Bontrager’s property which kenneled, at that time, more than 170 adult dogs.

The violations included animals found in unsanitary conditions, a number of which had not received adequate veterinary care.

Pictures included in the report showed dogs with infected eyes while others were housed in areas where an “excessive amount of feces accumulated… One large section of the washdown had beetle larvae shells covering the feces piles which indicated that the piles have been present for a significant period of time” the report stated.

Corrections of the violations were ordered to take place by October 24, 2012 but files do not show a return visit by the USDA.

Bontrager did not permit a NewsChannel 15 crew access to his kennels nor an interview on the matter. He stated that he does not feel the operation is unlawful, nor should it be considered a puppy mill and would not comment until after the BZA meeting.

The meeting will be held in the Noble County Office Complex located at 2090 N. State Road 9 in Albion. Petitioners encouraged dog advocates to attend the meeting.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,471





Breeders approved for kennel licenses

Updated: Wednesday, 02 Jan 2013, 11:39 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 02 Jan 2013, 11:39 PM EST
http://www.wane.com/d...­

ALBION, Ind. (WANE) - Dogs with eye infections. Puppies living in their feces. Ignored vet visit requests. That's what animal advocates in Noble County want to stop but met a roadblock Wednesday night.
I was pretty appalled and shocked," said Lori Gagen, the Executive Director of Black Pine Animal Sanctuary. "I mean I was born and raised here in Noble County, and I've never heard talk of puppy mills in my hometown or this home community."

Wednesday night the Noble County Zoning Board met to hear the requests of six petitioners or dog breeders. In a meeting that lasted over four hours, board members approved all six requests for kennel licenses.

Pam Sordyl works at one of the largest pet store chains in Michigan. She filed a complaint with the Noble County Zoning Board after finding out information that concerned her about where her puppies were coming from which caused the meeting Wednesday night.

"I track shipping records to see where they're coming from, so families know if they are buying an animal out of cruelty," Sordyl said.

Sordyl looks at the USDA inspection reports when she does her tracking and saw problems with one breeder present at the meeting, Marlin Botranger.

"There's a lot of violations coming out of the Botragers' farm," Sordyl said.
Sordyl said Botranger runs one of the five largest kennels in Indiana. Even though he's not supposed to have more than four dogs. He supplies puppies to a chain of pet stores in Michigan, some in Illinois, and in Fort Wayne.

However, residents aren't letting Wednesday's decision stop them.

"We're going to take the lead in Noble County and make sure that our ordinances are beefed up," Gagen said.

Gagen said the next step is continuing to educate people and working on strengthening laws in Noble County.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,472

Concerned Citizens Protest Dog Breeder

By: Robert Bumsted
Updated: January 2, 2013
http://fortwaynehomep...­

Some concerned citizens in Noble County want all dog breeding facilities in the county shut down. They started their campaign after a series of USDA inspections found more than a dozen violations at one facility.

Wednesday evening, members of "Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan" and the Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion tried to present their case to the Noble County planning board.

They say the owner of Noble Kennels has been selling dogs with severe medical problems. Puppy Mill Awareness founder Pam Sordyl says several pet stores in the Detroit area were reported for selling sick dogs that were raised by Noble Kennels.

WFFT obtained a series of USDA inspection reports dating back to 2010 that detail at least 15 violations ranging from unsanitary conditions to serious medical issues.

Despite the group's intent to make their case to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, members were unable to voice their concerns. Planning commission rules only allow residents of adjacent and affected properties to weigh in during licensing discussions.

Members of the protest group say they will try to escalate their concerns to the Noble County Board of Commissioners to find a solution.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,477
Meetup Members,


I am forwarding this article from a northeast Indiana news paper (News Sun) that covers four counties. I sent Part 2 Inspections called key to preventing puppy mills, yesterday. The reporter used one of our undercover photos from a breeder that supplies The Family Puppy. The store continued to use this breeder after our exposure. I added my comments to the article below. If you would like to comment online, you need a subscription. I notice that this paper does not get a lot of comments, but it is the primary paper in that area and has a large distribution. I am glad we are getting the conversation started.




These dogs are in a kennel in LaGrange County that was the subject of a USDA
inspection. LaGrange County has 18 USDA licensed dog breeding kennels.
Together with Noble and DeKalb counties, the area has nearly 20 percent of the
dog breeding kennels in northeast Indiana.



Dog kennels spark conflict
Owners, foes disagree on animal welfare

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 11:44 pm, Sat Feb 9, 2013.
By Bob Braley
http://www.kpcnews.com/news/latest/eveningstar/article_d7c9bbef-12e9-50b4-b106-3ecb8cc6c40b.html­

First of two parts


LAGRANGE — Animal rights advocates have labeled Indiana a puppy mill state, with the number of breeding kennels in Indiana growing.

Nearly 20 percent of Indiana’s dog breeding kennels licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are in northeast Indiana, and some have been targeted by groups seeking to block the sale of puppies from them and/or shut them down.


Amish families own and operate most of the local kennels. They view doing so as part of their way of life, and they say they treat their animals well, for both practical reasons and reasons of faith.


Conflicts are arising between people working to protect animals from bad living conditions and others who say the activists are targeting the wrong people. Also in the mix are concerns about selling dogs from breeders and USDA inspections.


Some dog breeders have received threats of harm to themselves and their families.


Emotions are spilling over on all sides, said David Sacks, a USDA spokesman. “Passions run high when you talk about animals. There’s no neutral ground,” he said.


23 kennels in area


The USDA has licensed 122 dog breeding kennels in Indiana, according to its records. Of those, 23 are in the four northeast corner counties — 18 in LaGrange County, three in Noble County and two in DeKalb County, with none in Steuben County, the USDA said.


“If you are a commercial dog breeder in this country, you would need to be licensed by the USDA,” Sacks said. Any kennel with four or more breeding females must be licensed by the USDA.
Pam Sordyl, who sat on the press board of a national group, the Puppy Mill Project, is the founder and leader of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan.


Sordyl and others have been tracking the number of kennels breeding dogs for commercial sale in each state across the nation and have seen a trend.


“The numbers are going down every year in every state except Indiana,” she said.


The recession and slow economic recovery are one reason for the drop, Sordyl said, adding, “It’s an industry that’s related to the economy.” She also said awareness of what she calls “puppy mills” increased after a 2008 Oprah Winfrey episode on the subject.


What are puppy mills?


But what constitutes a “puppy mill?” It’s a term coined in that Winfrey show, and it has no set meaning — but those who use it usually oppose large breeding kennels or selling dogs across state lines.


“That’s not a term we use here at USDA,” Sacks said. It’s used by people opposed to kennels.


“I consider a ‘puppy mill’ any commercial dog breeder that puts a higher priority on making a profit than on providing a good quality of life to the animals they breed, whether they are compliant with the legal definitions of welfare standards or not,” said Lori Gagen of Albion, who is working with groups opposed to commercial breeders in Noble County.


“While ‘quality of life’ is subjective, there are certain basic emotional, social and health-related needs that are typically not met in commercial dog kennels,” said Gagen, the executive director of Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion. “Private dog owners who occasionally breed their pets are not, in my mind, puppy mills.’”


There’s no legal definition for the term, Sordyl said. She defines a puppy mill as, first, a kennel that is profit-driven. Puppy mills also involve minimal veterinary care and settings that aren’t healthy environments for animals, producing puppy after puppy, she added.


Reputable breeders give rests between breeding cycles and allow exercise for dogs, Sordyl said.
That’s what an Amish dog breeding kennel owner in LaGrange County said he and others like him do, partly out of practicality and partly as a matter of faith.


The kennel owner, who asked that his name be withheld because breeders whose names have appeared in print have been targeted by opposition groups, said he has a veterinarian who is hands-on and on-site who inspects the animals.


All the dogs are on a strict vaccination and preventative worming protocol, the kennel owner said. As per Indiana law, they also all have current rabies shots.


His dogs have indoor and outdoor access in their kennels at all times, except when a mother has tiny puppies, the kennel owner said. The restriction then is to protect puppies from the elements.
The kennel building has fans for warm weather and is heated in winter, the kennel owner said. The kennels are 3 feet wide by 12-13 feet long and normally house two dogs each.


There’s also a grassy area outside the kennel of about 30-50 feet where the dogs who don’t have small puppies get one to three hours per day to exercise and socialize, depending on the weather, he said, adding, “They’re friendly.”


Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,478
continued....

Amish farmers




Many of the kennels in Indiana — and almost all in northeast Indiana — are owned by Amish families.
Areas with large Amish populations across the state, including LaGrange and Noble counties, are seeing increases in breeding kennels, and are where most of Indiana’s increase in kennels is coming from, Sordyl said.


It has to do with the Amish way of life, Sordyl said. They form businesses, stay close at home, run out of farmland and need to find new trades. For them, the dogs are livestock, she said, adding, “It’s a puppy farm.”


“It’s a cultural divide,” said Gagen.


But those statements don’t match with how the Amish actually operate, the kennel owner said.
“You don’t abuse anything,” the kennel owner said. “They should be treated properly.”


The Amish treat all animals with care because of the benefit they provide, whether that is work, such as with horses, profit from farm animals or companionship and love from pets, the kennel owner said.
“Why should we treat a dog different than we treat anything else? Why would we not take care of something that’s going to be beneficial to us?” he asked.


The Amish use the kennels to provide chores for children and something beneficial to do while at home with their families, the kennel owner said, adding, “We like our dogs.”


He originally had pets just for his family and allowed his own dogs to have puppies, he said.
“Demand for the puppies got higher and higher, and I couldn’t keep enough of them around,” he said. That’s when he started selling the dogs commercially.


While selling the dogs the Amish breed generates money, maintaining the kennels and caring for the dogs limits it, the kennel owner said.


“We don’t get rich on dog breeding,” he said.


One Amish kennel owner in Noble County has put more than $100,000 into his kennel facilities, the LaGrange County kennel owner said.


USDA rules


Ultimately, the issue is standards — whether they’re met, and whether they’re high enough.
The USDA’s task is to ensure that animals are getting proper nutrition, that caging is large enough and structurally sound, that animals have adequate veterinary care and that there is enough staff to care for the animals, Sacks said.


The only way to monitor that is through unannounced site inspections, Sacks said.


“Our mission is to make sure the animals get the care they need,” he said.


If inspectors find problems, kennel owners will be cited, Sacks said.


“Not everything that gets cited results in a penalty action. Some things get fixed on the spot,” he said. “Penalties are not a knee-jerk reaction.”


The type of violation is the first consideration in whether a penalty is issued, Sacks said. Violations that present immediate threats to the welfare of animals — such as having no fresh water — will result in some form of penalty, he said.


Violations also trigger automatic reinspections, Sacks said. Kennel owners who have repeat violations are more likely to receive penalties.


Penalties range from warning letters to fines, a temporary suspension of a breeding license or permanently revoking that license, Sacks said.


In looking at prior history, inspectors can tell if there’s a pattern of negligence that merits a penalty or if the kennel just has a problem that day, Sacks said. That’s taken into consideration.


The kennel owner who asked for anonymity said his family raised dairy cattle that produced Grade A milk when he was growing up, so he’s used to working with the USDA to meet standards.


No one will get a perfect inspection every time, the kennel owner said.


Another LaGrange County kennel owner said he had a violation listed on a report that he was told to fix within 24 hours. He said he did so.


But some watchdog groups have asked why the USDA didn’t follow up the next day. That owner, and three others in Noble and LaGrange counties, are on a watchdog group’s list of owners with questions about USDA inspections and follow-ups.


Sacks didn’t have information on specific cases. But many of the violations to which watchdog groups refer are those that are relatively small and might happen in any spot inspection, he said.


My Comments (Pam Sordyl)

I am not sure I understand the difference between a “pet” and a “breeding dog”. The Amish say they love their pets and some are part of their family. Why would they allow one to live in the home with comfort, attention and love, while the rest live in isolation in a barn with only a number?


They say the dogs have access to the outdoors. This simply means they can push thru a door flap onto wire floors and hover over their own feces and urine to look out at a privacy fence or burn under the sun on a hot day. We have recordings from the Noble Cty Zoning meeting stating that the dogs DO NOT go outside in the fenced in open area. If they did, I am guessing the neighbors would hear the barking. Not one site inspection (USDA, Zoning or Police) did they note animals were outside at the Bontrager Kennel. If theses 177 dogs were getting exercise, the owners would need to rotate animals as not all 177 could be allowed to go out at the same time. Unaltered animals need to be separated, correct? You can’t have different breeds mingling with each other, correct? Oh, wait, yes commercial breeders are mixing breeds. Then they call them designer and charge more.


The USDA does not notify local authorities when animals are being neglected or are dead. If an animal was not receiving veterinary care and was in pain and was suffering, criminal charges could be filed. If you read the USDA inspection reports, you will see that charges could be filed.


The photo used in this article was taken by a local advocate in Indiana at Roy Schlabach’s kennel in Lagrange County (not a USDA Photo). Schlabach sells puppies to The Family Puppy in the Detroit area. This is typical Amish style kennel. Would you want your family pet living in this kennel? Wire floors are very painful and cause the animals feet to spread out and sometimes blister. We have 8,000 USDA photos taken over the last few years and many show dogs trapped with their feet dangling. They can brake their legs of be trapped without access to food or water.
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