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Humane Society: 7 Lancaster County puppy businesses are 'horrible'

Written by Joel Shannon/The York Daily Record | May 12, 2017 9:25 AM
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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says puppy mills are "a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs." (Photo: nemar74, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

(Undated) -- In its May 2017 "Horrible Hundred" list sampling "problem puppy mills and puppy dealers," the Humane Society of the United States has named 12 Pennsylvania businesses, seven of which operate in Lancaster County.

The list pulls together state inspection data, archived federal inspection data, media reports, court records and other sources to create a list of kennels and dealers the society believes have a long or short history of mistreating dogs.

"Dogs found shivering in the cold," "Emaciated dogs found repeatedly" and "Bulldog seen with large, painful cysts on two separate inspections" are among the allegations made against Pennsylvania businesses in the report.

The 12 Pennsylvania businesses cited in the list landed the state in a three-way tie with Ohio and Kansas for second most. Missouri led the nation with 19.

Lancaster County dominated Pennsylvania's citations, although three Chester County businesses were listed as well.
Kathleen Summers, director of outreach and research for the Humane Society's puppy mills campaign, called Lancaster County "notorious" for puppy mills but didn't have a simple explanation for why.

The Humane Society notes that the list is not comprehensive or scientific: "It is not a list of all puppy mills, nor is it a list of the worst puppy mills in the country. It provides this update annually, not as a comprehensive inventory, but as an effort to inform the public about common, recurring problems at puppy mills."

The society believes the list cannot be complete because some breeders operate unlicensed, Summers said.

The definition of "puppy mill" is not always clear. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it is "a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs."

But legally, the term is insignificant. The Humane Society explains: "It's important to know that, in many cases, puppy mills are not illegal. In most states, a breeding kennel can legally keep dozens, even hundreds, of dogs in cages for their entire lives, as long as the dogs are given the basics of food, water, and shelter."

The number of Pennsylvania businesses cited in the list is the highest since the society started publishing it in 2013. But Summers didn't indicate that conditions in Pennsylvania are deteriorating.

"Pennsylvania's made a lot of progress in dealing with their puppy mills," said Summers.

There may be another explanation for the spike in Pennsylvania businesses being included.

While the federal government has removed its dog breeder inspection data from the internet, citing privacy concerns and a lawsuit, Pennsylvania's inspection data is still available online. In contrast, Summers says some states do not do this.

Summers believes consumers' demand drives the dog breeding market.

In a May 2 interview, Kate DePasquale -- a volunteer with A Tail to Tell Puppy Mill Rescue who lives in Wrightsville -- encouraged the use of the Petfinder to adopt rescue dogs

Those interested in looking up a Pennsylvania kennel's inspection record can do so online at the Department of Agriculture's website: http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Services/Pages/Dog-Kennel-Inspections.aspx


This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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