American Dog Club at the Smith Haven Mall is buying dogs from breeders who have been caught with violations in their treatment of the dogs, a review of records related to the issue show.
American Dog Club claims that they have “gathered and relied on only the best private professional certified USDA licensed breeders and facilities,” but several of the breeders that are regularly used have been hit with violations from the United States Department of Agriculture.
An amendment to Article 35 of Suffolk County Business Law states that pet dealers and stores cannot sell dogs from breeders with USDA violation in the past two years.
One breeder, Rebecca Eiler (USDA 48-A-2176), is was recently in the midst of a lawsuit filed against her by neighbors of her Nebraska puppy mill. According to the McCook Gazette, it claims that “the number of dogs on the property has substantially increased since the original building was constructed and currently is home to more than one hundred dogs. The dogs produce an unreasonable amount of barking and odor which has resulted in physical discomfort and an inability for the [plaintiffs] to have quiet use and enjoyment of their own property, according to the complaint.”
The owners of the kennel are Daniel and Lizann Miller and Eiler, and the suit alleges them of disposing of waste in a field adjacent to the kennel. Residents are now calling for the kennel to be shut down, but were recently denied in court.
Eiler’s license from her paperwork at the store is based in an address from Oberlin, Kansas, but a review of the List of Licensees and Registrants from the USDA dated December 29, 2016 showed that Eiler is still registered at 71363 County Road 385 McCook, NE with the Millers.
A look at the address in Kansas shows the business Classic Canine Companions, described on Yelp as “Pet Boarding/Pet Sitting.” And a look into who lives at the address shows that the resident’s name is Jeff Fortin, a fellow dog breeder who was in the news in 2010 for having to euthanize approximately 1,200 dogs due to a distemper outbreak.
Eiler and the Millers were holding dogs that were in need of veterinary care, as shown in the USDA inspection report from 2013.
Steve Kruse is also a common breeder based in Iowa. Kruse has developed a network of breeding operations that go under several different names.
Another Kruse, Michelle Kruse, is a breeder in Iowa who has also committed violations, and is licensed under the code 42-B-0294, as shown on the list of Iowa breeders. According to the paperwork of a customer who purchased a puppy at American Dog Club, a breeder with the same code was used with the name Gealea Nichols, but a search for that name does not return any related results. And where the list of licensees shows Kruse to be in Salem, Iowa, the paperwork shows an address in West Point. The address, 2329 Hwy 16 in West Point, is the same address held by Steve Kruse’s Stonehenge Kennel.
Michelle Kruse’s license has been in effect since February of 2016, a few days after her previous license was deemed inadequate by the USDA.
Another breeder used by American Dog Club is Nancy Ogle, who appeared on the “Horrible Hundred” list of the worst puppy mills in America for 2017. The list, published each year by the Humane Society of the United States, lays out the breeders with the worst violations, including some repeat offenders.
Ogle, based in South Dakota, was allegedly found with three dogs in need of veterinary care for eye and dental issues in a 2016 USDA inspection.
“Two other dogs found during the same visit had dental problems; their teeth had a thick buildup of tartar and their gums were swollen, dark red and receding, a condition that the inspector noted could be painful and could impact the dogs’ ability to eat normally,” the report said, citing the inspection.
Another breeder listed on the “Horrible Hundred” list: Steve Kruse.
According to HSUS, “in December 2015, Kruse received a 21-day USDA suspension for throwing a bag containing two dead puppies at a USDA inspector.”
The “About” section of the store’s website says, “At American Dog Club we do not support puppy mills, hobby breeders or backyard breeders,” but both Ogle and Kruse are known puppy mill breeders.
American Dog Club did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
According to HSUS, as of December 2016, over 10,000 puppy mills are operational in the U.S. In 2017, the USDA stopped publishing many of their inspection reports online, which limits the transparency of the process by which these puppy mills operate.
Stay tuned for more information on American Dog Club’s operation.