Report: Iowa has second most puppy mills in country

(ABC 6 News) – A new report published by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) lists Iowa as the state with the second most puppy mills in the country, trailing only Missouri.

The organization’s report titled, “The Horrible Hundred 2023”, lists 100 problem puppy breeders and dealers in the country, including 13 from Iowa. Missouri tops the list with 31.

The HSUS publishes the report annually to warn consumers about common problems at puppy mills, and to promote enhanced laws and stronger humane law enforcement.

Iowa’s high ranking is discerning for many humane societies and animal shelters across the state.

“Our animal welfare laws are pretty sub par. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I know the HSUS Iowa is working really hard to make changes to our laws and ordinances here, but unfortunately they’re just really far behind where we should be,” said Iowa City Animal Services Officer, Devon Strief.

USDA inspectors found several violations at Iowa puppy mills including some dogs with no water or only contaminated water, dirty, unsafe living conditions, matted dogs with clumps of dried feces to their hair, veterinary care deficiencies, and a dead puppy whom a breeder said he “hadn’t even noticed.”

The HSUS says 240 puppy mills have been shutdown and at least 1,650 dogs have been rescued since their first published report in 2013. While some have been shut down, others have been in the report up to six or more times and remain in business despite recurring animal care violations.

The HSUS says about half of the dealers in the 2023 report are USDA-licensed, the only agency that has the authority to regulate pet breeders in all 50 states under the Animal Welfare Act, but only if the breeders have five or more breeding females and sell to pet stores, brokers or online, sight-unseen. The HSUS says AWA’s standards are low, and enforcement continues to be lax, with USDA rarely shutting down or even fining problem breeders. USDA does not inspect breeders at all if they sell only to the public and in person.

In many cases puppy mills are not illegal, but according to the Humane Society, many of the conditions the animals live in are illegal, and why they are trying to raise awareness. The HSUS says for anyone buying a pet from a breeder in-person to carefully screen them.

To view documents with further details on the 13 listed Iowa puppy mills, CLICK HERE.