Humane Society Announces the 'Horrible 100' List of Worst Puppy Mill Offenders in the U.S.

Here's why you should rescue from a shelter instead of buying a dog

Photo: Texas Dept of Licensing

We’ve all walked by the window of a pet store, filled with adorable furball puppies, and thought to ourselves, “Aww, how sweet!” There’s even a classic children’s song about this once beloved scenario, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”

Unfortunately, in many cases, the cruel reality attached to the practice of buying puppies is very different from that fluffy fantasy.

On May 9, the Humane Society of the United States released its ‘Horrible Hundred 2017’ list, which is a report filled with information compiled from records obtained from state inspection data (in states that inspect puppy mills) and from recent USDA records that the HSUS preserved before the USDA removed these reports from its website, plus available court records, consumer complaints, investigator visits and media reports. (According to, the USDA is currently “working to review and repost records as soon as possible.”)

Texas Dept of Licensing

As the HSUS notes, if you purchase puppies or dogs from a store or off the internet, you could be unwittingly supporting this inhumane business. The latest Horrible Hundred report is the fifth of its kind; highlighted below are some of the most salient and distressing findings:

  • For the fifth year in a row, Missouri had the most puppy dealers at 19, followed by Ohio, Kansas and Pennsylvania, which each had 12 dealers.
  • Of the 100 dealers listed, 45 are new to the report, while 55 are repeat offenders who have previously appeared in a HSUS puppy mill report. (Last year, the USDA shut down only seven “problem breeders.”)
  • At least nine dealers sell their dogs through an online site which has been linked to offending puppy mills in the past. Overall, the trend of breeders advertising on the internet, including online classified sites and social media, appears to be on the rise and is highly disconcerting.
  • Although the list names the worst breeders in 20 states, the afflicted dogs can end up anywhere across the U.S. Worse yet, many puppy mills operate under the radar and are never inspected at all.
  • Among the disturbing findings, some of the facilities were: starving dogs, failing to protect dogs from freezing weather, repeatedly breeding sick and injured dogs, denying them veterinary care, leaving them in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, keeping dogs in illegally small cages.

Below, see the list of 20 states found to harbor abusive or neglectful facilities and the report’s findings. For the complete HSUS list of offending breeders, click here.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeated violations for dogs in need of veterinary care, including Chihuahua with signs of a broken jaw.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs found shivering in the cold; rodent feces in food bowls; repeated veterinary problems.


Owner charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty, yet still offering puppies [online] while case is pending.

Odors so “overwhelming” that law enforcement officers had to wear masks; owner was arrested in connection with stolen dog accusations; advertised [online].


Nine puppies underweight with their ribs showing; two puppies had liquid diarrhea; adult boxer had open lacerations so deep that muscle tissue was exposed, yet had not been taken to a veterinarian.


Bulldog had untreated eye problem; dead mice found floating in dogs’ drinking water.

Repeat violation for puppies in need of veterinary care, including a skinny puppy with hair loss and a lethargic puppy who “cried out when she was touched.”

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Owner sentenced to three years of probation for failing to pay animal welfare fines; inspectors found sick/injured dogs.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeat violations for dogs in need of veterinary care, including one with a foot lesion, others with hair loss and ear, eye or dental disease.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeated problems with sick dogs; bichon had “thick, yellow-green” discharge covering eye.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Puppies on wire flooring had feet falling through; strong odors a recurring problem.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): At least 41 dogs found in need of veterinary care since 2015, including some with deep lacerations, oozing wounds; licensee received previous USDA suspension for tossing bag of dead puppies at an inspector.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs with open wounds; limping dog; one dog had such severe eye issue that the inspector was unable to open the eye.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): “Weak and limp” puppy found unresponsive; another puppy had crusted eyes; Yorkies had hair loss and scabs.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): USDA filed complaint in July 2016 for numerous veterinary violations that occurred in 2015 and 2014; sells to large brokers.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeatedly found with matted dogs, dogs with dental disease.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Sells puppies online without a USDA license; claims shipped puppies are “breeding stock” to exploit federal loophole.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): USDA inspectors continued to find injured dogs even after sending official warning; puppies had feet falling through wire flooring.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Kennel with more than 600 dogs had decrepit conditions, excessive feces; some dogs only had barrels for shelter.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Direct violation for lethargic dog smeared with feces; other violations for filthy conditions; facility had more than 380 dogs.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Injured animals found six years in a row; filthy conditions; dogs found in the summer heat with no shade.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): After being required to downsize to 25 dogs under a 2015 consent agreement, state inspectors repeatedly found more than 25 dogs at the kennel; still operating in 2017 despite years of problems.

Facility with over 1,100 dogs found with dangerous housing, poor temperature control, three dogs in need of veterinary care; received official warning from USDA.

Failed December 2016 state inspection for sanitation problems, dogs in the cold; some dogs in wire crates so small that their heads touched the top.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Owner failed state inspection for rat infestation and dirty conditions; sold puppies to the Hunte Corporation (now called Choice Puppies).

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Failed to let inspectors in for at least 12 different state and/or USDA visits since 2011; newborn puppies found outside in the cold.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): Shaking and wounded Yorkie found, despite prior USDA warning about veterinary care problems.


Former employee documented puppies crowded into tiny, stacked cages in basement; consumer complaints.


Four Yorkie puppies and one adult poodle died without receiving adequate veterinary care; huskies had open wounds.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): Failed at least 11 recent USDA inspections; repeatedly failed to treat dog with health problems even after multiple warnings.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): More than 25 dogs found underweight, sick or injured since our last report; some were limping or had bloody/oozing lesions.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeatedly failed to let inspectors into the kennel, even after USDA filed a complaint; very thin and injured dogs found.

(REPEAT OFFENDER) Repeated problems with filthy and unsafe conditions; dog found limping, puppy found in cage so filthy there was no clean place to stand.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeatedly failed to let inspectors in the kennel; dogs had not been examined by a vet.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Bloodied poodle found lying on her side, unable to rise; strong odors of urine and feces.

Cited for twisting off the tails of puppies as an improper tail docking method; other dogs had injuries and wounds.

Puppy and dogs had open wounds; cages too small; contaminated food.

Live maggots were found on dog who had clumping fur and ulcerated skin; another had “foul smelling” ear discharge, others were matted.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Rottweiler with lesions on ears had flies swarming around the lesions; received August 2016 warning from USDA.

Many dogs found with wounds/lacerations; removed tails of weaned puppies with unacceptable “banding” method.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dog with oozing eyes, puppy with scabs and hair loss; fined $1,920 by USDA.

[TRANSPORTER]: 53 puppies died after being left on cargo truck with space heater running; veterinarian not contacted until eight hours later.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dirty conditions and excessive feces; outdoor dogs had no bedding to protect them from the cold.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Consumer allegedly had to pay $3,000 in vet care to save her sick puppy; state violations for underweight, sick and injured dogs.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Boxer had bleeding, open wound; another had ribs and hip bones showing; similar problems found repeatedly.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs found with gaping, draining or open wounds; owner repeatedly failed to get veterinary treatment for sick and injured dogs; year after year of violations.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs found panting in July heat without shade; violations found at 23 different USDA inspections.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Once notorious puppy mill operator who was shut down in 2011 found selling puppy through pet store in 2017, possibly violating prior agreement.

Puppies had hair loss and flaky skin; received official USDA warning in August 2016.


Received official warning from the state for inadequate staff to care for animals, filthy conditions with two weeks of fecal accumulation, rodent infestation and poor air quality.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): “Routinely non-compliant in general husbandry,” per state report; filthy conditions, not enough employees to care for more than 90 dogs; some dogs did not even have enough space to stand or sit comfortably.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Received official warning from the state in 2016 for filthy conditions and dogs without water; shot a dog in the head in 2008; many issues in between.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): USDA continues to pursue complaint in 2017 related to unlawful sales to pet stores; prior violations for foul odors, matted dogs and filthy conditions.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs found in need of veterinary care for five years in a row (2012 – 2016).

Allegedly sold puppy with urine scalding, staph infection and urinary tract infection; no vet plan found at two consecutive inspections.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): State inspectors repeatedly found inadequate veterinary records and unsanitary conditions.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Inadequate veterinary plan, excessive feces, unsanitary conditions.

New Jersey

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Consumer complaints about sick puppies; unlicensed dealer previously had animals seized from his home.

New York

At least half of the dogs had matted fur and long nails; filthy conditions.


Warned about sale of underage puppies; repeatedly failed to have records of medical exams on dogs and puppies.

Puppies found in cramped, undersized cages; dealer bought puppies from unlicensed breeders.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Received official warning from USDA in June 2016 for repeat veterinary issues.

Sold underage puppies and repeatedly failed to get veterinary exams as required, per state records.

Dogs found with hair loss and skin conditions.

Sale of underage puppies; no vet records on dogs; unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Matted dogs kept in rusty cages; dirty conditions.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dog found with sores on ears and head; prior violations for injured and lethargic dogs.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Fire in pole barn filled with “hundreds of dogs” killed an undisclosed number of animals.

Repeated veterinary care deficiencies; bichon had skin lesions around her neck and on leg.

Dead puppies found decomposing in yard; severely matted dogs.

Unsafe flooring not corrected until seven months later and multiple re-inspections; bichon with eye issue had not received surgery as directed by veterinarian.


(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dealer previously revoked in Georgia, moved to Ohio, now in Oklahoma; has history of sick dogs.

HSUS investigators found stench and crowded wire cages; website offers to ship puppies, without the required USDA license.


Received citation for sale of underage puppies; some dogs not properly vaccinated.

Failed five state inspections in 2016; unsafe conditions, excessive feces.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Puppies found in the cold; dogs had matted hair; dogs did not have enough space or fresh air; state issued 11 citations or warnings and ordered 10 vet checks on dogs between 2010 and 2017.

Dogs found shivering in the cold; repeatedly failed to protect dogs from harsh weather; failed six state inspections in 2016/2017.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Ten warnings or citations from the state since 2010; vet checks ordered at least nine times between 2010 & 2016.

Received two written and verbal warnings; veterinary issues, excessive feces.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Emaciated dogs found repeatedly; some dogs had no water; state ordered vet checks on dogs year after year.

Bulldog seen with large, painful cysts on two separate inspections; several other dogs had eye or skin problems; some dogs lived in a dark building without a light source; kennel has been receiving citations and warnings since 2010.

Violations for five years in a row; received warnings from the state in 2016; kennel previously closed down in 2010 but reopened in 2012.

Kennel was issued two warnings and one citation in 2016 for inadequate, unsafe housing and other problems.

Instructed 12 times to get vet checks for dogs between 2010 and 2017; received warning and citations at six different state inspections between 2010 and 2017.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Instructed eight times to have vet checks on dogs between 2010 and 2016; issued 10 warnings or citations since 2010 for poor conditions.

South Dakota

Dirty conditions, three dogs in need of veterinary care.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Dogs had open sores buzzing with flies.


Convicted on 47 counts of animal cruelty, yet still selling puppies [online]; accused of selling puppies who were underweight, sick or had mange.


Breeder fined for selling puppies without a state license, unsafe and unsanitary conditions for puppies.

Fined $1,500 for operating a breeding kennel without a license; Dalmatians kept in small, stacked wire crates in dismal conditions.

Fined $2,775 for selling underage, sickly puppy; not licensed to sell puppies online.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Violations found at 12 USDA inspections between 2013 and 2016; dog had crusted lesion and red, inflamed skin.

Fined $550 for selling puppy without proper health record; offers to ship puppies online but does not appear to have the required USDA license.

Breeders fined $5050 by state for breeding without a license; some breeding mothers with new puppies were confined to tiny plastic crates.

Unlicensed breeder found with dogs in tiny cages, piled up in hoarder like conditions.


Dogs were found with no water, and puppies were found in overcrowded cages, even after official warning from state; lethargic puppy found lying in a water bowl.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): “Listless” puppy unable to walk; two dogs had eye disorders; licensee repeatedly failed to take animals to the vet.

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Repeatedly found with unsanitary conditions and puppies on unsafe wire flooring.

Overwhelming odors caused inspector’s lungs to burn and she “felt ill within seconds.” Breeder was cited for unhealthy air quality that “had been causing extreme discomfort to the dogs.”

(REPEAT OFFENDER): Both state and federal inspectors found repeated problems; limping dog, matted dogs, unsanitary conditions.

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