CHICAGO (CBS) – A new report from the Humane Society of the United States lists the 100 worst puppy mills in the country and two of them are in Illinois.
Puppy mills are large scale breeding facilities where dogs are raised in inhumane conditions.
“These are the worst of the worst,” said Kathleen Summers, who helped author the “A Horrible Hundred” report. It focuses on facilities that have been previously cited in publicly available inspection documents.
Of the 100 so-called puppy mills, one is Oak Valley Kennel in downstate McLeansboro, and the other was identified by the Humane Society as Puppy Parlor in west suburban Lisle.
“At the time the state inspector went in and documented it, dogs in the back room were in cages stacked four high. These are cages of the size that you would normally put your pet dog in for a few hours while you go to work,” said Summers.
Following a similar report in December 2012, the owner of Puppy Parlor issued a statement saying its puppies are “healthy and happy.”
Calls for comment for this story were not returned by Puppy Parlor or Oak Valley Kennel.
The Humane Society estimated there might be as many as 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S., producing 5 million puppies annually.
“We’ve documented reports of dogs so horribly matted that there was a fur coat like mat going from one end to the other in a sold mass, dogs with injuries and illnesses and injuries that hadn’t been treated by vet and dogs in small stacked cages,” said Summers. Other documented problems included overbreeding, inbreeding, minimum veterinary care and the lack of monitoring of other health issues.
“These facilities have been cited by inspectors in many cases and in some cases they’ve been given small fines but unfortunately there’s not enough action being taken to really penalize these people in a way that would be a real deterrent.”
“The only thing that’s going to stop this is to ban the sale of puppies at pet stores,” said Ida McCarthy, Chicago Coordinator of the Companion Animal Protection Society. As many as 30 cities in the U.S. have done just that including Los Angeles. San Diego is the latest considering a ban. In Canada, Toronto has enacted a similar law.
“You have to stop the demand and the puppy mills – where are they going to sell their dogs? There are always going to be puppy mills but there’s not going to be thousands of them like there are now,” she said.
Consumers can also play a big role in shutting down puppy mills.
“First of all consider adoption if you’d like to add a dog to your family,” said Summers. “If you do decide to buy from a breeder, make sure it’s somebody you’ve personally visited and checked out for yourself. We also encourage people to shop at pet stores that don’t sell puppies.”
Summers and other animal advocates have called for tougher federal and state laws to deal with puppy mills, saying current laws are not doing enough to help.
Illinois lawmakers recently passed what’s being called a “puppy lemon law” that would allow buyers to get a replacement or a full refund for the pet if the animal dies within 21 days of the purchase. Consumers also could seek damages for the cost of veterinary care.
Earlier this year, Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the PUPS Act, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act which would require all breeders selling more than 50 dogs a year to be licensed and undergo inspections to ensure dogs are receiving proper care. It would also require breeders to provide dogs with at least an hour of exercise per day.