Manhattan breeder disputes inclusion on Humane Society's "Horrible Hundred" list

A dog had almost no clean place to stand at Patchwork Kennel in Aurora, Missouri, an operation where inspectors found a number of underwight dogs, the U.S. Humane Society says. (MO Dept. of Agriculture via USHS)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - "Hair loss and scaly skin that was bleeding," "visibly shivering in... 8 degree temperatures," "pens saturated with feces," these were all conditions the Humane Society of the United States says were found at kennels across the country.

But the owner of a Kansas breeder on the report paints an inaccurate picture of their facilities and care.

The non-profit HSUS released its 'Horrible Hundred' list of what it describes as the nations' worst puppy mills and puppy brokers. The report lists six in Kansas, which tied for seventh among states. Missouri had nearly four times as many, 22, the Humane Society says.

One of the Kansas facilities in the report is Got Game Bird Dogs in Manhattan. Owner Kelli Nelson provided 13 NEWS with inspection reports from both the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture and American Kennel Club, show them in compliance during visits earlier this year.

"It's amazing how information can be twisted and maimed to the point of minimal if no truth," Nelson said the HSUS report.

She called the HSUS claim of animals unsheltered from the weather "completely untrue." She says their kennel has insulated indoor boxes, and covered runs.

As for animals not having water, Nelson explained it is partially noted on an initial KDA inspection that came at the end of a work day. She left work when contacted by the inspectors to meet them, and found a group of lab pups had drank the water left for them earlier in the day. The bottom of the jug was still wet, but it was empty - and a full jug was immediately brought in.

"Being placed on this list is devastating to us," Nelson said. "Before a potential buyer purchases a puppy from us, they are invited to come see our kennel, our breeding dogs, and choose their puppy by playing with the pups and choosing, not just by pictures, but by getting to know us, getting to know the personality of the pups, and meeting the parents. There are puppy mills out there, but it's not us. Protect yourself and SEE for yourself who you are buying from."

This is the the seventh year for the Humane Society's 'Horrible Hundred' and, while the organization notes some of the worst offenders have since shut down, the Humane Society says the list shows the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and state agencies have "a long way to go in ensuring humane care for breeding dogs and their puppies." It called out the federal agency over the fact some dealers who had serious violations from state inspectors had clean slates with the USDA.

“Many of the horror stories documented in this year’s Horrible Hundred report led to nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. “Puppy mills will continue to be a major problem until the USDA gets serious about enforcing animal protection measures.”

The Humane Society also points out several dealers on the list have relationships with Petland, Inc., which it calls the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the country, and nearly a fifth of them have offered puppies on PuppyFind.com.

While Missouri had - by far - the most dealers on the Humane Society's list, Iowa ranked second with 13 and Pennsylvania had an even dozen. At six, Kansas tied with Nebraska for the seventh most.

Here is a list of the six Kansas dealers identified by the Humane Society as the worst puppy mills or puppy brokers in the state, as well as their top line offenses:

  • Stewart Ranch, in Chapman: (repeat offender) State inspectors repeatedly found emaciated/underwight dogs and dirty conditions, including an "extremely thin" poodle, a limping Great Pyranees, and an underweight Great Dane mother with seven nursing puppies.
  • Precious Puppies Kennels, in Clyde: (repeat offender) Some dogs had no water because it was frozen; owner was cited three years in a row due to repeatedly failing to protect dogs from the cold.
  • Prairie Wind Bullies, in Dodge City: State inspectors found dogs visibly shivering in the cold in 8 degree temperatures without acceptable shelter and no bedding; foul odors and pens "saturated with feces;" dogs had no drinkable water because it was frozen.
  • Name withheld by the USDA, in Glasco: (repeat offender) Repeat violation for inadequate veterinary care; dog had hair loss and scaly skin that was bleeding; inspector found the licensee was not giving the dog his prescribed treatment.
  • Feuerborn Shihtzu Royal Palace, in Linwood: Found operating in October 2018 without a current license; puppies kept in small, rusty pens; state repeatedly warned about not enough employees; dirty conditions.
  • Got Game Bird Dogs, in Manhattan: Inadequate shelter from the heat and cold; puppies had no water on a hot day and fought to get to the bowl when water was finally provided; breeder sells AKC puppies.

Full statement from Kelli Nelson, Got Game Bird Dogs

This afternoon I have been bombarded by phone calls and texts from friends and owners of our pups, who have been to our kennel, seen us care for our dogs, and see the healthy and well bred pups we raise. They are horrified by our name being listed on this article. It's amazing how information can be twisted and maimed to the point of minimal if no truth. So yet again, I will be transparent with the public.

Here is how things work: when you have a certain number of breeding dogs, you need licensure from Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) to proceed as a kennel. We have been transparent with our kennel. We work with KDA to ensure we are meeting the high standards they require. On one of two initial visits, KDA partially noted the corrections listed in this article . They came at 5PM on a work day, I had to race home from work to meet the 30 minute time line legislature recently passed. I had lab pups in a pristine, temperature controlled, whelping room. They had drank their water I had left that morning, which was an amount adequate for the day, and despite being out of water, were not neglected.

Lab pups will eat and drink like wolves in competition with one another at any time, yet since they were left water, but had finished it shortly before we got home, (jug was still wet) we were written up. So we bought another water jug to attach to the kennel.

The claim of no shelter from weather is completely untrue. Our kennel has indoor boxes which are well insulated. The runs are covered and protected from the wind.

The claim of inadequate shelter from the heat and cold was adjusted once the KDA facilitator came out with a trainee on a supervised inspection, and agreed we in fact, did not have to have covers on the openings "dog doors" (that the dogs just chew off) because our kennel building, does in fact, more than allow our dogs to get out of any weather without the doors.

We have passed our recent KDA inspections and also our initial AKC inspection. I'm attaching those documents for your review.

Being placed on this list is devastating to us. I appreciate the calls and texts from those who know us, supporting us today. Before a potential buyer purchases a puppy from us, they are invited to come see our kennel, our breeding dogs, and choose their puppy by playing with the pups and choosing, not just by pictures, but by getting to know us, getting to know the personality of the pups, and meeting the parents. There are puppy mills out there, but it's not us. Protect yourself and SEE for yourself who you are buying from. But please do not take it out on the people who work hard to do things right or all you'll have left are the mills.

Sincerely,

Kelli Nelson (of Got Game Bird Dogs, Manhattan, KS)