Ed's Corner: The Sad Reality of Puppy Mills

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 10:15am

If a friend told you that his dog came from “Happy Times” Kennel, what would you imagine that dog’s birthplace to have been like? Perhaps a place where the puppies were nestled by their mother as their human guardians attended to their every need? Sadly, the truth is far from this idyllic image, as the ASPCA witnessed firsthand last week.

Happy Times Kennel in Hot Springs, Arkansas is also known as Rainbow Kennel and Spa City Pets—clearly names meant to connote images of happy and healthy dogs. But when customers contacted law enforcement because the dogs they purchased were sick, the Garland County sheriff’s office, along with the Humane Society of Garland County, began investigating.

Garland County law enforcement purchased dogs in an undercover investigation, and each of the dogs they purchased had multiple illnesses and parasites. This was enough for the Garland County Sheriff’s Department to cite the breeder with violations, but not sufficient to shut down this substandard breeding facility. Garland County contacted the ASPCA for help.

Last week, 30 responders from the ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations assisted law enforcement and other animal welfare groups in the raid of this facility. The sights our responders witnessed were enough to make any animal lover weep. They saw precious Chihuahuas, West Highland Terriers, Boston Terriers and Dachshunds living in filth. Some dogs had open lesions. In fact, many had severe skin problems and flea infestations. We couldn’t even initially tell the color of some of the dogs because they were completely covered with fleas. And perhaps worst of all, dead puppies were found intermingled with live ones.

Our immediate task was conducting triage—the ASPCA veterinary forensics team evaluated the more than 150 dogs we found that were still alive and determined which needed immediate care in a veterinary hospital and which animals could be treated in an emergency shelter. We had sent our Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) unit to the site. This vehicle has state-of-the-art forensic tools and medical equipment and was invaluable in being able to treat animals quickly on-site.

Our forensics team also took photos and video to help law enforcement prepare its case against the breeder, who has been charged with three felony counts of animal cruelty. All of these animals are being cared for now and we hope that they can be released for adoption soon.

This is a terrible reminder of the abuse occurring in puppy mills. Sadly, people looking for a puppy unknowingly support this industry when they purchase puppies from pet stores or through the Internet. To stop this kind of abuse from occurring, please don’t buy anything from a pet store that sells puppies. You can read more about our campaign at