Seventeen Iowa dog breeders were cited for regulatory violations in the second quarter of 2023, with Iowa again ranking as one of the states with the highest number of violators.
Between April 1, 2023, and June 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited 17 Iowa breeders for violations of the federal regulations, according to data compiled and analyzed by the Iowa animal-welfare organization Bailing Out Benji.
The number of violators resulted in Iowa being tied for second place among states with the highest number of violators:
Ohio – 37 violators.
Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri – 17 violators each.
Pennsylvania – Six violators.
Oklahoma – Five violators.
Kansas and New York – Four violators each.
Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Minnesota – Three violators each.
Nebraska, Virginia – Two violators each.
Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina and New Mexico – One violator each.
Bailing Out Benji reports that Iowa has the nation’s fourth-highest number of USDA-licensed pet breeders and brokers, with 263 such businesses now operating in the state. Missouri is home to 885 such businesses, Indiana has 397, and Ohio has 343.
The 17 Iowa breeders cited for violations in the second quarter of 2023 include:
Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennels in West Point: At the time of his April 19 inspection, Kruse had 435 adult dogs. He was cited for one direct violation pertaining to inadequate veterinary care, with 15 dogs affected by that violation, and for one noncritical violation pertaining to inadequate cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control.
During the April 19 visit, the inspector made note of a female bulldog with severely reddened eyes and a large amount of yellow discharge covering both eyes and coating the surrounding hair. “The dog was hesitant to hold its eyes open while being examined,” the inspector reported, adding that “the animal is not currently receiving any treatment for the condition.”
The inspector also observed a spaniel with poor dental health and an abnormal eye condition. “The condition of the dog’s teeth and eye have not been noticed and the animal is currently receiving no treatment,” the inspector wrote in her report.
In addition, there was a female bulldog with teeth that had been worn down almost to the gum line. Several of the dog’s teeth appeared to have cavities that left nerves exposed. The condition of the teeth had not been noticed by Kruse and the dog wasn’t being treated for the condition, the inspector reported.
The inspector also observed that the enclosures for bulldogs were constructed with wood frames covered with metal. The metal pieces, the inspector reported, are “coated in a thick buildup of dirt, rust, and a dark brown greasy material” that could be peeled away by hand.
The inspector returned on May 9 and again cited Kruse for inadequate veterinary care. The inspector observed four bulldogs with abnormal foot or eye conditions that were not being treated. Kruse was also cited for a noncritical violation pertaining to primary enclosures, with the inspector observing 13 dogs attempting to walk about in their enclosures with their feet falling through the openings in the mesh flooring.
Kruse was notified March 30, 2023, that the USDA was suspending his license for 21 days. In its notice to Kruse, the USDA said it was taking the action because the agency had reason to believe he had willfully violated Animal Welfare Act regulations and was failing to “meet the minimum standards for animals.”
Kruse operates one of the largest dog-breeding businesses in Iowa. In recent years, he has been cited for numerous violations and repeatedly appeared on the Humane Society of the United States’ annual list of the nation’s 100 worst dog breeders. In December 2015, he received a 21-day USDA license suspension after throwing a bag of dead puppies at a USDA inspector.
Annette Moeller in West Point: At the time of her May 10 inspection, Moeller had 53 adult dogs and 155 puppies. She was cited for one noncritical violation pertaining to the condition of the primary enclosures for dogs. Inspectors watched as the feet of three nursing puppies fell into the openings of the raised floor of their enclosure. Openings in flooring that are large enough to allow a dog’s foot to pass through can cause injury to dogs and affect their ability to move around in a normal manner, USDA officials told Moeller. Moeller has sold puppies to pet stores in at least three states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
Bethany, Linda and Stanley Korver in Orange City: At the time of their May 5 inspection, the Korvers had 27 adult dogs and six puppies. They were cited for 12 noncritical violations, an unusually high number. (Earlier in the year, the Korvers were cited for 10 such violations.) The May 5 violations pertained to the method of identifying animals, recordkeeping, the dog-housing facilities, the primary enclosures for animals and the lack of veterinary care for dogs. The business was also cited for a lack of cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control – a repeat violation.
The inspector examined a Quonset hut used to house 10 dogs and six puppies and noted an accumulation of bird fecal waste, soiled wood chips, empty dog food bags, animal feces, dust, cardboard boxes, dirty plastic buckets and dusty food storage containers. In addition, there were no dated records of physical examinations, and no dated records of heartworm testing or rabies vaccinations for any of 27 dogs. The Korvers have sold puppies to a pet store in Nebraska, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
David, Glenda, Eric and Adam Grove of Iowa Fox Creek Kennels in Unionville: At the time of their May 16 inspection, the Groves had 32 adult dogs and 11 puppies. The business was cited for one noncritical violation pertaining to feeding, with the inspector making note of a feeder that contained dog food that was caked and moldy – a potential health hazard. The Groves were also cited for violations in 2022 and 2021.
Erwin Yoder of Yoder Kennel in Bloomfield: At the time of his May 31 inspection, Yoder had 33 adult dogs and 16 puppies. He was cited for one noncritical violation pertaining to a lack of veterinary care for the dogs. According to the inspector’s report, Yoder was not adhering to standard protocols for heartworm prevention, the care of pregnant females, the deworming of puppies and flea treatments. Yoder sells puppies to pet stores in at least eight states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
A female pug’s right eye was completely cloudy, with a a blueish color, while her left eye was “sealed shut by dry, yellow-colored discharge.” The dog was not receiving any form of treatment.
– USDA inspector’s findings at Sunrise Kennels in Corydon
Freeman Helmuth of Sunrise Kennels in Corydon: At the time of Helmuth’s April 24 inspection, he had 57 adult dogs and 33 puppies on hand. He was cited for four noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care, recordkeeping and incompatible grouping of animals. An inspector made note of a female pug whose right eye was completely cloudy, with a blueish color and was discharging yellow fluid, while her left eye was “sealed shut by dry, yellow-colored discharge.” The inspector also observed the dog had a “wet, grey discharge” from its nose and pointed out that the dog had not been evaluated by a veterinarian and was not receiving any form of treatment.
Heath Meyers of Century Farm Puppies in Grundy Center: At the time of his March inspection, Meyers had 225 adult dogs and 128 puppies on hand. The USDA issued Meyers an official warning stemming from violations found during an inspection earlier in the year. At that time, an inspector observed a Bichon “hopping around” with its right rear leg held up in the air due to a toe pad that was partially torn away. The dog was also in poor dental health, with some teeth that were loose and their roots exposed. Meyers and his staff were “unaware” of the dog’s condition, the inspector reported.
Henry Byler of Seymour: At the time of this April 17 inspection, Byler had 49 adult dogs and four puppies on hand. Byler was cited for four noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care and the housing facilities for animals. The inspector made note a female Shih Tzu with a large, hairless lesion on one shoulder and clumps of “hard, dark material” attached to her head and neck. Byler had not consulted with a veterinarian about the dog’s condition and had provided no treatment, the inspector alleged. In addition, the inspector reported, “the last time any of the dogs received a fecal or heartworm test was on Nov. 29, 2021.” Byler sells puppies to pet stores in at least seven states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
Kyle Holtkamp of Donnellson: At the time of his June 27 inspection, Holtkamp had 61 adult dogs and 29 puppies on hand. He was cited for three noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care and recordkeeping. According to the inspector, Holtkamp was having the business’ veterinarian visit the facility once every six months rather than monthly. Holtkamp sells puppies to pet stores in at least three states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
David Horning of Ionia: During the second quarter of 2023, Horning was issued an official warning by the USDA. The warning was tied to violations cited in February 2023 when inspectors noted a lack of veterinary care that had affected five dogs and one deceased puppy.
The inspector found one three-week-old Boston Terrier puppy that was much smaller than its littermate and had a thick, white discharge from one eye that she couldn’t keep open. The puppy also had a very large head, as well as continuous tremors and “open, red, raw sores on her hind paws.” Horning has since canceled his USDA license.
At one point this year, Horning had 111 adult dogs and 10 puppies on site. Horning has sold puppies to pet stores in at least two states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
Larry Albrecht of Coldwater Kennel in Greene: At the time of his June 28 inspection, Albrecht had 165 adult dogs and 81 puppies on hand. He was cited for three noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care and recordkeeping. The inspector reported that several dogs did not have their veterinarian-prescribed dental cleanings. One Pomeranian had a buildup of dark brown material covering half of her teeth on the left side and the teeth on the right side were completely covered in a hardened, dark brown material. At least one tooth was loose when touched by the inspector.
In addition, the inspector reported, “the lack of medical records makes it difficult to determine if the animals are receiving the appropriate vaccinations and treatments and adequate preventatives for medical conditions.” Albrecht sells puppies to pet stores in at least four states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji
Linda Mulder of Limi Je M Kennel in Boyden: At the time of her May 3 inspection, Mulder had 29 adult dogs and 13 puppies on hand. She was cited for three noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care and inadequate cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control. “The adult dogs were not vaccinated for distemper and there is no record of the vaccination,” the inspector reported. “This can increase the disease potential for the 29 dogs.” The business had not been inspected since 2021. Mulder sells puppies to pet stores in at least two states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji
Nathan L. Miller of Kalona: At the time of his June 29 inspection, Miller had 12 adult dogs and one puppy on hand. He was cited for four noncritical violations pertaining to outdoor housing facilities and inadequate veterinary care for dogs. The inspector noted that an outdoor enclosure with a tin roof was housing one adult dog and did not have adequate wind and rain breaks. All shelters housing dogs in outdoor facilities must contain a roof, four sides, a floor, and a wind break and rain break to help keep the animals dry and comfortable, the inspector noted.
Norman Hershberger and Steve Kaffman of Hazelton: At the time of their April 13 inspection, Hershberger and Kaffman had 23 adult dogs and 17 puppies. They were cited for two noncritical violations pertaining to inadequate veterinary care for the dogs. Hershberger and Kaffman allegedly acknowledged that none of the adult dogs were up to date on their annual parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and Bordetella vaccines and the kennel had not been conducting annual sample-testing of dogs for heartworm disease.
Three dachshunds were housed together in a single enclosure that measured 24 inches by 48 inches – less than half the required size.
– Inspector’s report on New Design Kennels of Rockwell City
Nancy and Thomas Carlson of New Designs Kennel in Rockwell City: At the time of their June 15 inspection, the Carlsons had 61 adult dogs and 15 puppies. The couple was cited for two noncritical violations pertaining to primary enclosures for animals and inadequate veterinary care for dogs.
The inspector found that three 18-week-old dachshunds were housed together in a single enclosure that didn’t provide the minimum amount of required floor space. The dachshunds each measured 22 inches from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail, but were housed in an enclosure that was only 24 inches wide and 48 inches long – less than half the required size.
In addition, the inspector reported, “there are no records of when vaccinations or parasite control treatments were given for most the 61 adult dogs.” The Carlsons sell puppies to pet stores in at least three states, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
Thomas and Willie Yoder of Keosauqua: At the time of their April 25 inspection, the Yoders had 21 adult dogs and 16 puppies. They were cited for three noncritical violations pertaining to housing facilities and the primary enclosures. “The puppies are housed in enclosures with raised plastic flooring,” the inspector reported, adding that she “observed the feet and legs of one dachshund puppy falling through the openings of the floor numerous times as it walked around the enclosure.” The Yoders have sold dogs to a pet store in the state of Washington, according to records maintained by Bailing Out Benji.
Toni Robbins of Taga Aussies of Coon Rapids: At the time of her April 13 inspection, Robbins had 51 adult dogs and 25 puppies on hand. Robbins was cited for one noncritical violation pertaining to inadequate water for the animals, which affected 17 of the adult dogs and 13 of the puppies. Several enclosures, the inspector reported, had stainless steel water receptacles in them, but they lacked any water for the dogs and puppies to drink. All dogs must have continuously available water, the inspector advised Robbins.