Nebraska among top states with pet-neglecting dog breeders | Crime and courts

Animal abuse and neglect are long-standing issues in the United States, and Nebraska is no exception.

The spotlight was on the breeding industry in the Midwest again this month when a group of small dogs were brought to the Central Nebraska Humane Society after a breeder turned them over. Most dogs are relatively healthy, but some have bad teeth and at least one has a hernia that will need to be repaired before the dog can be adopted.

Most dogs are social with each other and with people, which is unusual for animals used only for breeding, said Laurie Dethloff, executive director of the Central Nebraska Humane Society.

Dogs will be assessed and treated before being made available for adoption, Dethloff said.

Nebraska law requires dog and cat breeders and brokers to be licensed by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Agriculture. The law also requires animals to have temperature-controlled housing, clean air, kennels with ample room to move around, daily mental stimulation and exercise, basic health and dental care, medical care from a licensed veterinarian and coat care to prevent parasites.

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Breeders are also required to ensure reasonable breeding frequency to prevent overbreeding, according to Bill 427, which was signed into law in 2012.

Jocelyn Nickerson, director of the Humane Society of the United States Nebraska, said despite state standards, breeders don’t always care for their animals the way consumers might expect.

In May, the Humane Society of the United States released a report on “puppy mills” and breeders. Although the report is not an exhaustive list of all breeders in the country, it shows that regulation alone cannot end the problems of bad breeders.

The report includes an update on the 2013 “hundred hundred,” which includes 12 livestock companies in Nebraska. Of those 12, three are in central Nebraska – in Boelus, St. Paul and Ashton. Most of the problems noted in Nebraska cases relate to lack of clean drinking water and edible food, filthy conditions, lack of space, exposure to extreme temperatures, lack of medical care, and the euthanasia by gunshot.

At the Boelus site, a “seriously ill” dog was left without treatment for two days. Puppies at the St. Paul location were found shivering in the cold, and one of the newborn puppies died of exposure. Inspectors at the Ashton site noted that the breeders’ euthanasia plan was “lead shot”, referring to a gunshot. According to the report, the majority of Nebraska problem breeders on the list lacked dog records.

“The purpose of the report is to inform consumers of widespread issues with puppy mills before they make an uninformed purchase that could potentially support animal cruelty,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.

“The report includes puppy mills from 22 states, but since most dealers sell online or in pet stores, their puppies could be available to unwary consumers in all 50 states and beyond.

“But this new report shows that there is still no shortage of substandard puppy mills,” the group continued. “Regulation alone cannot end puppy mills. They will only end for good when consumers stop buying their puppies and insist on dealing only with animal shelters, breed rescues, or small, responsible breeders they have met in person.

Nickerson agrees and advises against buying a puppy or dog from a private breeder who won’t allow the buyer to see where the animal lived or what it ate or who won’t identify its parents. .

“If they’re not allowed to access it, it protects them from what’s really going on,” she said.

Dogs that come from farms where regulations aren’t followed may have health issues or lack the socialization needed to make good pets, she said.

Nickerson said there are good breeders out there who obey the law and give their animals proper care. However, those who neglect their animals give “the rest of the ranchers a bad name”, she said.

She suggests adopting a pet from an approved rescue center.

There are 240 licensed dog breeders and brokers in Nebraska, including commercial breeding kennels, boarding houses, animal shelters and shelters, animal control facilities, dealers and pet stores, said Nebraska Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christin Kamm. Breeding operations vary in size from a few dogs to, in some cases, over 100 animals.

The need for a license depends on factors such as the number of dogs, the number of litters per year and the number of puppies sold, Kamm said.

Some breeders have more violations than others, she said, but there is a process for dealing with violations and a number of administrative options for breeders who don’t comply.

“Most license holders take good care of their animals,” Kamm said. “Unfortunately, as in any profession, there may be some who find it difficult to conform.”

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has three inspectors. By law, facilities must be inspected at least once every 24 months, but inspectors can stop by more frequently and respond to complaints, she said.

The most common non-compliance issues for all categories of license holders, not just breeders, include substandard sanitation, housing issues, ventilation issues and inadequate records, she said. declared. The number of licenses subject to enhanced inspection each year remains more or less stable compared to previous years.

Lori Hook, vice president of Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, said the organization has rescued 10,000 dogs over the past 25 years. The shelter has room for 400 dogs, and at any one time more than half of the dogs in the shelter come from “puppy mills” in Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, Hook said. Between January 1 and March 31, the shelter welcomed 200 dogs from two South Dakota kennels.

Issues with breeders that Hearts United for Animals deals with include unsanitary conditions and small cages with wire mesh bottoms. Dogs are kept just healthy enough to breed, she said.

In June, they helped two dogs who had untreated broken jaws, Hook said. They also saw parasites, ear and eye infections, rotting and dirty teeth, oral infections that spread to the heart, malignant breast tumors from repeated breeding and hernias from multiple litters, Hook said. .

They also saw genetic defects due to inbreeding or repeatedly breeding a dog with a genetic defect. Such problems would be less likely to occur with breeders who keep proper records, perform genetic testing and don’t breed animals, she said.

“We had a Pomeranian with a tumor the size of a cantaloupe,” Hook said. “All his internal organs were pushed into it. We’ve had dogs that people have done C-sections on themselves. It’s hideous. We also recently had a breeder in Nebraska who was supposed to give his own dogs rabies shots, which is a violation, so we reported him.

Failure to consult a professional veterinarian can cause serious problems. Hook cited a case in Kansas a few years ago where 1,200 dogs had to be euthanized due to an outbreak of canine distemper on a farm where the animals were not properly vaccinated.

She thinks Nebraska is probably in the top seven states with bad breeders, and she said a lack of decent enforcement is partly to blame.

“Keeping a dog in a kennel and raising them over and over again is not okay,” Hook said.

Like Nickerson, Hook encourages consumers to buy dogs from rescue organizations and shelters.

“If there is no demand for the services of breeders, then there is no reason for puppy mills,” she said. “Also, let your state lawmakers know you want reform.”