Humane Society of the United States
Diane Herbst
September 06, 2016 11:28 AM

Fourteen of New Jersey’s 29 pet stores are purchasing dogs from some of the worst puppy mills in the United States, including from one breeder who killed dogs by shooting them in the head, another who kept small dogs outside in sub-freezing temperatures, an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States has revealed.

And those cute puppies you see in window?

Once the pups arrive in New Jersey, some of the pet stores are keeping the little animals in “demonstrably inhumane conditions, with puppies confined to small, rusted cages and starved for human attention,” according to the report.

Conditions at three pet stores were so troubling that the HSUS reported them to local authorities, according to the report.

John Goodwin, senior director of the HSUS’s campaign to stop puppy mills, tells PEOPLE: “We were a little surprised at how awful these places were.”

There is a lot of scrutiny on pet stores in New Jersey now and yet we found pet stores that were filthy, kept the dogs in tiny cages and sourcing dogs from awful puppy mills,” Goodwin says.  “If they can’t do better than this when the bright spotlight is on them, I shudder to think what they would do when no one is paying attention.”

Humane Society of the United States
Humane Society of the United States

About a half dozen of the stores also failed to disclose information on every cage stating where the pups came from, which is in violation of New Jersey law, Goodwin says.

Puppy mills work to breed and sell as many puppies as possible, meaning that many dogs are typically confined in wire-floored cages so small they can’t stand up. Due to lax laws, this kind of treatment is allowed, as well as endlessly breeding the same dogs, says Goodwin, noting that puppy mills nationwide supply about 99 percent of the dogs sold in pet stores.

The only way to stop this is to stop buying from pet stores, says Goodwin. “I encourage people to get their next 4-legged legged member of the family from a shelter or rescue or to seek out a responsible breeder, someone who lets you see how the mother dog lives,” he says.

Fifty-three puppy mills that have been noted by the HSUS as the 100 worst puppy mills in the United states have supplied puppies to New Jersey pet stores within the past 20 months, investigators discovered.

These suppliers include Judy Maassen of Rock Valley, Iowa. In 2014, Maassen was cited by the United States Department of Agriculture for using “gunshot in brain at close range” as a routine method of euthanasia on the facility’s official program of veterinary care, the HSUS investigation reveals and which PEOPLE confirmed by looking at the report online.

However, a representative for Maassen, Mindy Patterson of The Calvary Group, tells PEOPLE the statement in the USDA inspection report is “completely false.”

The USDA also found seven dead puppies scattered on the property of Ohio breeder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, which has been supplying N.J. pups, according to the report. Yoder has cancelled his USDA license, according to documents PEOPLE found on the agency’s website. Yoder could not be reached for comment.  

Humane Society of the United States
Humane Society of the United States

Wayne Puppies in Wayne, N.J. has been selling puppies from Massen as well as Madison Kennels in Pierce City, Missouri, the investigation reveals. In December, 2015, the USDA cited the kennel for keeping small dogs outside in sub-freezing temperatures, the report states. PEOPLE’s attempts to reach Madison were unsuccessful because phone numbers associated with her business and herself were disconnected.

The pet store has also sold puppies from an Oklahoma breeder cited by the USDA for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including having a shu tzu with “red, blood-like liquid” covering the dog’s left eye, the HSUS report reveals.

Alexandra Hoffman, the owner of Wayne Puppies, says that she only uses breeders who pass their USDA inspection.  She shared USDA inspection reports with PEOPLE showing all three passed multiple inspections. Mackey did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Alexandra Hoffman, the owner of Wayne Puppies, says that she only uses breeders who pass their USDA inspection and was “shocked” when told she got puppies from breeders cited for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

“If the USDA inspector finds they don’t treat them right they should close kennel down,” Hoffman says.

New Jersey pet stores were in the national news earlier this year when police rescued 67 puppies left overnight in a van behind the Paramus pet store Just Pups.

Authorities charged the store’s owner, Vincent LoSacco and his brother, Leonard, with 134 counts each of animal cruelty, according to reports. They have plead not guilty. Three of his four stores have been closed down, according to the HSUS report.

At three other pet stores — D&G’s Petite Pups, Carmona Pet Shop and Passaic Pets — an HSUS investigator was so concerned about conditions that were “crowded and dirty, with rusted cages and conditions that appeared inhumane,” that a Humane Society staffer reported the stores to local authorities.

Humane Society of the United States
Humane Society of the United States

At D&G’s Petite Pups in Paterson, investigators found a “puppy in a small, rusty cage”  that “looked disheveled and depressed.”

A man who answered the phone at D&G’s who didn’t wish to give his name said he didn’t think there was anything to be concerned about.

At Carmona Pet Shop in Union City, a man who answered the phone said in English he only spoke Spanish and didn’t understand a request for comment.

At Passaic Pets in Passaic, owner Freddy Frind denied that there was anything wrong with the conditions in his store, and that he’s passed all the required inspections. “These are just people talking, activists and stuff like that, it’s nonsense,” he says.

At Passaic Pets in Passaic, owner Freddy Frind denied that there was anything wrong with the conditions in his store, and that he’s passed all the required inspections. “These are just people talking, activists and stuff like that, it’s nonsense,” he says.

NY Puppy Club owner Daeman Yoon, who read the HSUS report, tells PEOPLE the cages in which he keeps his pups are roomy and always kept clean. “It’s fine,” says Yoon.

The New Jersey State Senate overwhelmingly passed measure S. 63 that would prevent pet shops that repeatedly violate the state’s humane sourcing laws from selling puppies within the state. The HSUS says New Jersey residents concerned about puppy mills and pet stores can help take action by contacting their assembly members and asking them to support S.63.

To see the full HSUS report click here.

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