Five Pennsylvania dog kennels have landed on the Humane Society of the United States’ “Horrible Hundred” list, its annual compilation of the most problematic commercial dog breeders in the country.
In the report released this week the Humane Society said the listing is replete with breeders who have been cited by federal and state authorities over many years for numerous violations yet continue to operate.
Of the five kennels listed in Pennsylvania, three are in central Pennsylvania – Cumberland, Lebanon and Lancaster counties. The report contains documentation of an array of kennel operating issues, among them filthy housing, poor ventilation, undersized kennels and failure to keep accurate records.
The organization uses US Department of Agriculture and state inspection records to determine which kennels to include. Pennsylvania, which has among the most dog breeding kennels in the country, has had as many as 12 kennels on the list, but the number of poorly performing kennels has declined, even as the number of kennels has increased.
“We do believe that Pennsylvania has a more serious enforcement program than other states and hope ultimately it makes a difference, but we are still seeing the same puppy mills over and over again,” said John Goodwin, senior director for the society’s Stop the Puppy Mills campaign.
Margaret Graf, who operates Eichenluft Kennel in Newville, made the report for the fifth year. The kennel has a history of failed inspections and citations dating to 2010. Among the infractions: failure to keep a kennel in sanitary and humane condition, failure to provide adequate shelter from the cold and rain, strong odors, excessive feces, poor ventilation, dirty water dishes, undersized kennels and inadequate programs of veterinary care, according to the society’s report.
Graf, whose website advertises American Kennel Club-registered German shepherds, also has been cited for missing health and dog transfer records and operating with more dogs than the kennel license allowed.
The report points out that record keeping may seem like a minor issue, but not properly tracking dogs “could be an indication of a licensed kennel ‘laundering’ dogs from other, unlicensed kennels, which would defeat the entire purpose of the state’s licensing and inspection program. “
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement said Graf, operating as Eichenluft and Ritner Kennel, held three licenses: breeding, boarding and rescue. The bureau revoked the rescue license and is finalizing the revocation of the boarding license.
“The department has been embroiled in litigation with Margaret Graf for several years.,” Spokesperson Shannon Powers said. “She will be left with the breeding kennel license, which the bureau plans to monitor closely. “
Graf did not respond to a voice mail message seeking comment.
Bobbie Yoder of Little Mountain Doodles in Myerstown lost her state dealer’s license in 2021 for buying and selling puppies from unlicensed sources for several years, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement said.
Powers said dog law’s “policing of her records and subsequent follow-up uncovered dozens of unlicensed kennels, which have now been shut down or gotten licensed appropriately.” After a settlement earlier this year, Yoder is on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition with the district attorney’s office and her license di lei was reinstated, Powers said.
Reached Friday, Yoder said her dogs are well cared for and the issues with the state were “all about the paperwork in 2020 and nothing to do with the care of the dogs.”
The society’s report noted that “failing to keep accurate records on dogs moving in and out of the kennel could mislead buyers and also pose a risk in tracking infectious disease outbreaks.”
Treehouse Family Puppies in Jonestown made the list for repeated citations for accumulated feces in kennels and kennel runs. Owner Steve Musser said while he had not seen the report he was “very disappointed and upset to be on there.” He defended his maintenance program and said he had cleaned the kennels cited in the January inspection.
“We take care of our puppies and our dogs,” he said. “We are happy to have people come take a look.”
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The other two Pennsylvania kennels on the list are Sunrise Kennel, owned by John King, in Caernarvon Township, Lancaster County, and Blanche S. Plute in McDonald, Allegheny and Washington counties. King has been repeatedly ordered to have 72-hour veterinary checks on sick or injured dogs. Plute was cited for rusted enclosures and keeping dogs in kennels with inadequate headroom.
There are 2,384 licensed noncommercial kennels in Pennsylvania and 130 commercial kennels, a more than four-fold increase in the number of commercial kennels since stricter regulations took effect in 2011, but down from a high of more than 300 in the early 2000s. Commercial kennels are defined as those that transfer more than 60 dogs a year, with many selling hundreds of dogs a year online and to pet stores.
There are 41 Pennsylvania dog wardens and seven supervisors, down from a high of 65 a decade ago.
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has suffered an ongoing financial crisis resulting from the failure of the Legislature to increase dog license fees, which has forced the agency to leave vacant positions unfilled, it said in its 2020 annual report.
“The numerous charges and penalties levied against these businesses, and dozens of unlicensed kennels shut down and licenses revoked, demonstrate that the bureau is doing its job and taking all actions legally available to hold kennels to the high standards in Pennsylvania’s Dog Law,” Powers said.
The Pennsylvania licensed kennel inspection database is accessible through the state Department of Agriculture.
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