Friday, December 28, 2018

Bills to increase penalties for animal cruelty approved by Snyder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 28, 2018

Subject: Bills to increase penalties for animal cruelty approved by Snyder

Contact: Pam Sordyl, 734-718-7100

(LANSING, MI) Bills to increase penalties for animal cruelty targeting domestic violence situations, neglect of a large number of animals, and deliberate cruelty to companion animals were approved by Governor Snyder today after seven years of consideration by state law makers.

HB 4332 and HB 4333, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming), passed the senate 33 to 4 on December 13, 2018.

"Justice should include family pets because they could be used for manipulation or harm just like our loved ones on two legs," Brann said in a statement. "As a pet lover myself, it pains me that animal abuse continues to be a growing a problem in Michigan and we absolutely need to address it. I anticipate that this legislation will be a solution to address this awful problem.”

House Bill 4332 will amend (MCL § 750.50) by establishing first, second, and third degrees of killing or torturing an animal, while increasing the maximum prison term, enabling prosecutors and the courts to better protect the public from those who commit a form of animal abuse most closely linked to violence against humans.

Raj Prasad from the Wayne County Prosecutors Office provided testimony at the Senate Judiciary Hearing.

“These cases give us great pause, especially when you see targeted torturing and killing of animals used to control the victim or family members. When we realized the animal sections themselves do not allow for any real protection for the victim or animal, we began drafting the language.”  

Currently, Michigan’s statutes prohibiting animal neglect and animal cruelty carry a maximum penalty of a felony conviction with punishment of up to four years in jail, fines, and/or community service. Now the maximum sentence will be 10 years.

The bill will also bring breeders and pet shops, both capable of possessing a large number of animals, under the law and give law enforcement additional options when dealing with animal hoarders.

HB 4333 provides additional sentencing instructions for various offenses related to animal cruelty.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, called for reform of the state's animal cruelty laws in 2012 after announcing charges in connection with two deplorable cases. One involving a Dearborn Heights pet shop, Pet Station, where more than 20 dogs, over 70 birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, frogs, snakes, lizards, tarantulas, chinchillas, mice and rats were seized.

"The laws on animal cruelty in this state are horrendous and need quick fixing," she said. "All the evidence will reveal this is a very serious case. The multitude of evidence resulted in one four-year felony; that is really criminal. The penalties should be much higher."

Another Wayne County case instigating reform involved a Rockwood resident who left six American Bulldogs abandoned in a home after moving to Flat Rock. Five of the dogs died.

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency summary report, there were 40 violations under these offense categories with zero offenders sent to prison and only five sent to jail in 2016.

“Courts need greater latitude to impose stronger sentences when the situation warrants it, and the possibility of stronger sentences will also send a message that such crimes will be taken seriously and thus may serve as a deterrent.” Ann Griffin, Michigan Humane Society.

Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan has been tracking cases featured in the media involving pet stores, dog breeders and domestic violence while the bills were reintroduced each session highlighting a need for stronger laws:

(2018, Clarkston) Puppy tossed in bushes found covered in maggots with skull fracture from blunt force trauma

(2016, Trenton) Man charged with torturing and killing Yorkies

(2016, Eastpointe) Neighbors videotape man assaulting a dog

(2015, Detroit) Mastiff mix found tortured and mutilated

(2015, Hazel Park) Five cats found beaten to death

(2015, Independence Twp.) A woman and her dog killed by the woman’s husband, who was on probation for domestic violence

(2015, Oak Park) Teen kills a mouse with a stun gun on video
(2014, Kalamazoo) A puppy was killed when used as weapon by a man in the beating of his girlfriend

(2013, Warren) Nearly 200 animals seized from pet store 

(2013, Ypsilanti Twp.) Woman tied dog's mouth shut, starving him

(2012, Lansing) A MSU student repeatedly targeted and killed a specific breed of dog

(2012, Dearborn Heights) More than 100 animals seized from deplorable conditions in a pet store

“Large pet stores like Petland Novi, display over 60 dogs and have continued to sell sick puppies for over ten years without licensing, inspections or enforcement of the Pet Shop or basic animal cruelty laws. With multiple civil lawsuits against Petland Novi outlining neglect, we expect the courts to review the cases and leverage these new penalties to deter other pet stores from selling commercial bred animals with illnesses and abnormalities.” stated Pam Sordyl, Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness.

Once in effect, the bills will:

·         Create harsher felony penalties if a person abuses <10 animals.="" o:p="">
·         Extend definitions to cover dog breeders and pet shop owners.
·         Increase penalties up to 10 years in prison for deliberately killing or mutilating a companion animal to harm or threaten another person.
·         Establish first, second, and third degrees of killing or torturing an animal, and increase the maximum prison terms.
·         Allow a court to include at least five years probation involving 25 or more animals, or three or more prior convictions. 

Bill facts:

·         Primary sponsor: Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming). Co-sponsors: Kimberly LaSata (R-St. Joseph), Peter Lucido (R-Washington), Steve Marino (R-Clinton Twp), Patrick Green (D-Warren), Jewell Jones (D-Livonia)
·         Launched by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office
·         Supported by the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, Michigan Humane Society, Attorney’s for Animals, ASPCA and the Genesee County Sheriff Office.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Citizens to testify at Michigan capitol urging lawmakers to reject pro-puppy mill bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2018

CONTACT: Pam Sordyl, 734-718-7100

(LANSING, MI) Concerned citizens, animal sheltering and animal control professionals, and animal protection groups from across the state will assemble at the Senate Binsfeld Building (201 Townsend St) in Lansing on Tuesday, December 11 to provide testimony in opposition to legislation that would protect cruel puppy mills and their pet store sales outlets.

Link to event details

HB 5916/5917, referred to as “the Petland bills” after the legislation’s primary backer, would allow pet stores in Michigan to continue sourcing from large-scale, inhumane commercial breeding facilities and to continue to sell sick puppies to the public, while at the time stripping cities, towns, and counties in the state of the authority to address this issue. Three existing ordinances that prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies that have been passed in Eastpointe, Fraser, and New Baltimore would be voided as a result of this legislation. 

HB 5916/5917 are an attack on local control and animal welfare, and are being met with strong opposition from the pet-loving population of Michigan.

There is a movement across the nation to prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. Maryland lawmakers unanimously approved such a measure last month, joining California and over 260 localities across 20 states.

“We believe this legislation does not protect animals, leaves the door open to continued sourcing from puppy mills in pet shops, and further hinders our ability to work with local municipalities toward legislation on behalf of the animals we care so deeply about, “ said Matt Pepper, President & Chief Executive Officer Michigan Humane Society.

“HB5916 suggests that pet stores will have more regulations and puppy buyers will have full access to breeder information, but the real problems happen long before the puppies arrive in the stores,” said Pam Sordyl, founder of Michigan Friends of Companion Animals and Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan. “No amount of enforcement in Michigan is going to ensure that breeders follow the highest standards when breeding or provide expensive veterinary care necessary in large-scale operations. Puppies from the industry’s new showcase kennels are still arriving with many abnormalities including generic issues as a result of poor breeding. “ Link to testimony

“Our shelter’s dedicated animal care professionals have seen firsthand the suffering that is the result of the large-scale breeding of dogs for the pet industry,” said Trudy Ender, Executive Director of the Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids. “As a result, we support efforts by citizens in west Michigan to stop the sale of puppies in pet stores, and to promote the adoption of rescued animals instead. HB 5916/5917 is a step in the wrong direction and goes against the wishes of the people of Michigan who oppose the cruelty of puppy mills.”

“HB5917 is strategically designed to undo all of our work to protect families and open the door to inhumane kennels,” said Cardi DeMonaco Jr., an Eastpointe City Council Member. “It is hard imagine my council will not even be allowed to prevent roadside stands or parking lot sellers from peddling puppies in Eastpointe. I wanted Eastpointe to be a model city promoting only humane ways to bring pets into the family. Times are changing and our ordinance reflects our values as a community which should stay on the books.” 

Media contacts:

Matt Pepper, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Humane Society 248-283-5661

Pam Sordyl, Founder of Michigan Friends of Companion Animals and Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan 734-718-7100

Cardi DeMonaco Jr., Eastpointe Council Member 586-744-3864

Trudy Ender, Executive Director of the Humane Society of West Michigan 616-258-4076

The market is not taking care of puppy stores, unsafe places

Kim Miles takes Mt. Clemens store to court after purchasing
a puppy will liver shunts. She will live the rest of her life on a special diet and twice-a-day
 medication to keep her liver soft so she can 
absorb the proper nutrients.
The owner is still selling puppies.

As Senator Hune prepares the agenda for the Senate Agriculture Committee meeting tomorrow, animal welfare organizations have already submitted testimony opposing HB 5916/HB 5917 and will be attending the hearing to educate lawmakers about the cruel puppy trade and its impact on communities. My testimony below outlines why these bills will protect puppy mills and leave Michigan a "buyer beware" state. 

As Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan and Michigan Friends of Companion Animals, I have spoken with hundreds of families who have purchased sick puppies from Michigan pet stores and were left with thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. The market is not taking care of the worst actors, nor is local law enforcement. Pet stores are not a safe place to purchase puppies and HB 5916 does not offer enforceable solutions to protect families and pets.

I urge you to oppose H.B. 5916 and HB 5917 for the following reasons:

  1. The bills would not require pet store licensing or inspections.
  2. The bills lack meaningful standards and are unenforceable.
  3. The bills rely entirely on the USDA’s minimal standards and enforcement which has plummeted this year.
  4. The bills would not ensure puppies are provided adequate veterinary care while on display for sale and families visiting the store are protected from Campylobacter.
  5. The bills would not prevent puppies with genetic abnormalities from being sold.
  6. The bills would not ensure puppies are properly vaccinated.
  7. The bills would not prevent predatory sales tactics.
  8. HB5917 prohibits local governments from enforcing or creating ordinances that would protect families and pets from irresponsible breeders and retail outlets.
  9. The bills undermine legislation passed last session.
The bills would not require pet store licensing or inspections. Michigan pet stores are not currently licensed or inspected by any agency. We have approximately 15 stores that sell puppies where families cannot easily see the conditions or meet the parents - site unseen purchases. Complainants who call local law enforcement are either told their complaint is a civil matter or pet shops are under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Agriculture. The MDARD dropped the Pet Shop Program (1) ten years ago directing them back to local agencies.

The bills lack meaningful standards and are unenforceable. On the surface, they masquerade as animal welfare, pledging to protect puppies by guaranteeing that they are purchased from “qualified breeders” that are “USDA licensed with not more than three inspection violations in the last year and no direct violations in the last two years.” This means, pet store can still source from large-scale dog kennels with violations to the Animal Welfare Act. Even if Michigan pet stores fully disclose breeder names and addresses, the USDA inspection reports for commercial kennels are blacked out – entirely redacted (2). Consumers would be relying on the pet stores to provide those records.

The bills rely entirely on the USDA’s minimal standards and enforcement which has plummeted this year. The USDA standards are minimal and considered “survival standards” (3). According to a Washington Post article (4) published just this October, we learned the USDA has “revamped” their enforcement process moving away from penalties. Commercial dog breeders have no incentive to provide humane care.

“The department had issued 39 warnings in the first three-quarters of fiscal 2018, and it filed and simultaneously settled one complaint — with a $2,000 fine for an infamous Iowa dog breeder who had already been out of business for five years.
In August, USDA issued no warnings, filed no complaints and imposed no penalties through settlements with any of the 8,000 or so facilities it licenses and inspects under the federal Animal Welfare Act, …. “ per the Washington Post.

These bills would not ensure puppies are provided adequate veterinary care while on display for sale and families visiting the store are protected from Campylobacter. Veterinary clinics hired by the pet stores to sign off on the 30-day health certificates are the same clinics offering free visits after purchase creating a conflict of interest. There are now three lawsuits against Petland Novi (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) just this year including twenty-four plaintiffs all seeking monetary damages for breach of contract and multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act. The puppies suffered from a range of issues, including genetic defects, infections and some had highly contagious diseases, costing the plaintiffs thousands of dollars in veterinary care. The lawsuits also allege fraud, claiming the store and its owner knowingly sold animals with deformities and illnesses, as well as, misrepresenting the origins of the animals.

One man was man hospitalized after purchasing a puppy infected with Campylobacter at the Petland store in Novi (5). This is currently being investigated by the Better Business Bureau who has been logging other sick animal complaints at the store.

On the other side of the state, six puppy buyers are also seeking legal advice after purchasing ill animals this year at Michigan’s newest pet store, The Barking Boutique (Grandville, MI) (10)

In 2015, over 30 plaintiffs filed multiple lawsuits after purchasing sick puppies at the Gibraltar Trade Center. The owner of Pollywood Pets / Little Dogz continues to sell sick puppies online as criminal charges were not filed (11).

The owner of Michigan’s largest puppy store chain, The Family Puppy, testified at the May 2018 House Agriculture Committee meeting “he was not aware of any complaints”, yet we know this is not true.  I was recently contacted by Toni Kastanos who set up a GoFundMe page (12) in an attempt to cover over 7,000 in veterinary costs after purchasing an anemic puppy from the store’s Novi location. This is not the only complaint my organization has received. NBC 25 covered a story about a puppy that was purchased from the store with many health problems (13).

The bills would not prevent puppies with genetic abnormalities from being sold. The industry has set up what we are calling “showcase” breeders who have new kennels or upgraded kennels, but still lack oversight. There are only a handful of these kennels that are used in marketing packages, while the stores actually source from hundreds of other kennels. Even these “showcase” kennels are sending puppies to our Michigan stores with abnormalities. The Barking Boutique (Grandville, MI) has been regularly shipping puppies with genetic abnormalities listed on the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection records (14). 

The bills would not ensure puppies are properly vaccinated. The only regulatory oversight the state provides regarding pet stores is to ensure animals are properly vaccinated during importation. Last year the state conducted two investigations (15) related to missing vaccinations impacting over 110 puppies at The Barking Boutique (Grandville MI), yet the store continued to import animals throughout the year without proper vaccinations even after an official warning letter was sent by the state. Some of those puppies with missing vaccinations were also sold will illnesses.

The bills would not prevent predatory sales tactics. Some Michigan puppy stores offer high interest rate loan options or leases, where the puppies are held as collateral! Consumers can be easily misled by the financing language because the store employee did not understand the loan terms or wanted to make the sale by glossing over them. The loans include attractive low monthly payments, yet those payments are spread over years making the interest portion seem minimal (16). In addition to offering easy financing for high priced puppies, in June, The Humane Society of the United States petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to create a Trade Regulation Rule that would define the following acts at pet stores as unfair or deceptive (17):

  • Advertising as, or as Only Doing Business with, Breeders who are “Reputable,” “Responsible,” or Other Like Terms;
  • Claiming to Be, or Only to Do Business with, “Licensed,” “Certified,” or “Inspected” Breeders;
  • Selling Puppies who are Unfit for Sale;
  • Labeling Puppies as Vet-Checked, Healthy, Health-Guaranteed or Health-Certified, and/or Falsifying or Misrepresenting Veterinary Records;
    Offering a Deceptive Health Guarantee;
  • Advertising Puppies for Sale as Pedigree “Registerable,” “Registered,” or from Registered Parents;
  • Representing the Breeder as “Local” without Identifying the Verified Locality;
    Failing to Disclose Material Facts about the Breeder or Puppy;
  • Misrepresenting the Traits of the Puppy for Sale;
  • Offering Misleading or Predatory Finance Options;
  • Utilizing Misleading Testimonials, Rating Systems, or Endorsements;
    Describing the Transaction as an Adoption rather than a Sale;
  • Advertising Certain Breeds of Puppies as “Hypoallergenic”;
  • Advertising Certain Breeds of Puppies as “Micro” or “Teacup;”
  • Failing to Deliver the Puppy Purchased.

HB 5917 prohibits local governments from enforcing or creating ordinances that would protect families and pets from irresponsible breeders and retail outlets. The market is not taking care of problem pet stores. After a hundred complaints, two lawsuits including twenty-four plaintiffs and regular news coverage exposing sick animals being sold, Petland Novi continues to sell puppies (18). Novi city council choose not to pass a retail ordinance addressing these chronic issues. Mt. Clemens, Utica and Grandville also choose not to pass proposed retail ordinances that would address the sale of puppies being sold at local puppy stores with illnesses. Only three Michigan cities, without existing puppy stores, have passed retail restrictions: Eastpointe, Fraser and New Baltimore. Therefore puppy stores are not be shut down due to local ordinances.

The bills undermine legislation passed last session.
Rep. Mike McCready (R) updated Act 287 of 1969 just last session. New regulations went into effect January 2017. McCready’s bill was championed by the Michigan Humane Society and supported by the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association and the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers. The Michigan Department of Agriculture provided supportive testimony.  
The real problems lie at the commercial kennels and happen long before the puppies arrive in the stores. Poor breeding practices and lack of veterinary care are two of the biggest problems that are not easily fixed with more state regulations. Unless all breeders make huge investments and agree to higher standards, some kennels will simply be used as “showcase” kennels while the pet stores continue to source from sub-standard breeders.

Michigan pet store owners, local law enforcement and the MDARD have no control or oversight of USDA commercial breeders --the only way to protect families to end the puppy mill pipeline to our communities.

Please do not support these bills which would overturn all the progress we have made to protect families and pets from the cruel pet trade.

Thank you for your time in this matter.
Pam Sordyl
Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan
Founder of Michigan Friends of Companion Animals
8758 Deerwood Road
Clarkston, MI 48348
cell: 734-718-7100
(1)   The state no longer regulates or inspects pet stores. 

(2)         The USDA no longer provides inspection reports online. Reports are fully redacted and take months to receive.  

(6)         Petland sold sick, worm-infested puppies, lawsuit claimsDetroit Free Press Published March 19, 2018

(7)         Novi Petland sued for allegedly selling diseased and sick puppies The Oakland Press Marcy 14, 2018

(8)         Lawsuit says Novi Petland sells unhealthy puppies Local 4 March 16, 2018

(9)         Couple says Novi Petland sold them sick dog that had to be put down FOX 2 Detroit MAR 16 2018

(14)     Puppies are shipped with genetic abnormalities on their health certificates and the store continues to purchase from the breeders

Kennel Name
Veterinary Inspection Date
Abnormality Noted
Cloveridge Kennel
Luxating Patella Grade 1 L Latfral

Small open font.

Open font  

Moderate open font (all 3 dogs)

one of the three female cockapoo had mild underbite

Puppy 174655-04 has a moderate open font

Puppy 174656-06 has a mild open font
Oakridge Kennels
Unilateral Crypt Orchid

Crypt orchid neuter done 1-31-18
Shadow Valley
Not provided
Left knee grade 5 patella not in trochlergroorse

Open Font ~ 3mm

Double inguinal hernial repaired

Castrated, double inguinal hernia repaired


Very small double inguinal hernia

Unbilical hernial repaired by Dr. McClintock

Umbilical Hernia and double inguinal hernia

Umbilical hernia repaired by Dr. McClintock

Castrated by Dr. McClintock

Neutered by Dr. McClintock had an abscess on right side of chest – healing

Right testical not fully descended into scrotum

Very small open font, left knee grade 2 patellar luxator, right knee grade 1 patella lux

Umbilical hernia repaired by Dr. McClintock

Grade 1 right knee, small open font

Umbilical Hernia repaired Dr. Mcintock, Umbilical Hernial repaired Dr. McClintock

Double inguinal hernia, open font ~ 4mm, extremely small underbite 1 mm
Walnut Ridge Kennel
Puppy has a moderate overbite
Ervin Lee Mast

Grade 3 knees right and left
David Troyer
Castrated by Dr. McClintock

Umbilical Hernia..small amount of fat on the outside.
Melvin Nisley
Puppy had crypt orchid neuter done 1/10/18

(15)     Missing vaccinations at The Barking Boutique. Warning letter sent, yet the store continues to import without required vaccinations

(18)     Petland Novi’s lawsuit outlines negligence, yet the store continues to sell puppies.

Link to “Ten Reasons Petland Novi is Michigan’s worst store” blog

Learn more about The Family Puppy’s breeders:

The Family Puppy’s breeders had serious direct violations to the Animal Welfare Act.

1) Marlin Bontrager, from Rome City Indiana, was The Family Puppy’s top supplier of puppies. According to a federal inspection, Bontrager was caging 177 adult dogs and had two serious direct violations including not seeking veterinary care for a sick puppy. Suffering was prolonged by not taking the puppy to the veterinarian. In addition, the inspector also cited Bontrager for housing dogs in temperatures in the 90’s. Dogs were observed heavily panting and puppies were stretched out on the wire floor trying to stay cool.  Bontrager has a history of violations going back to 2008 related to housing, shelter, primary enclosures, cleanliness, feeding and vet care.  

2) Devon Schrock, another of The Family Puppy’s breeders, was cited for accumulations of grime and hair in the primary enclosures. This harbors diseases. In addition, Schrock’s drainage system was cited as the upper washdown was draining into a pen on the bottom where two dogs were exposed. There was hair and sludge accumulating.

Learn more about Michigan’s newest puppy store: The Barking Boutique (Grandville, MI)

The Barking Boutique (Grandville, MI) features “showcase” kennels on their website, yet sources from 82 different Midwest breeders. Cloveridge is one of the “showcase” kennels that changed their name and business license for a clean inspection history.

Many of The Barking Boutique’s suppliers have violated the Animal Welfare Act.
One breeder with violations, Shady Oak Frenchies owned by Jonathan Detweiler (Princeton, MO), housed 177 dogs in 2014 and was not disclosed on the store’s website.

  • A Golden Retriever was observed limping on his right front leg. Applicant said "he may have been in a fight." (April 23, 2013).

  • Multiple Animal Welfare Act violations related to attending veterinarian and inadequate veterinary care program. (April 11, 2013)

  • A Bulldog with a bottom jaw sticking out 2 inches more than her top jaw causing her tongue to stick out and be exposed, dry, wrinkled and reddened (April 11, 2013)

  • Two adult Golden Retrievers were seen wet and shivering in the outdoor enclosures with no way of getting inside unless the breeder propped the door open. (April 23, 2013)

Another supplier of The Barking Boutique, Melvin Nisley of Seymour, IA, was cited for not having a complete program of veterinary care (April 2013). This kennel is not disclosed on The Barking Boutique’s website.

Link to USDA photos.

The Barking Boutique owner stated he only works with breeders with no violations in the last two years – which is the new requirement outlined in HB 5916 -- yet breeder David Nisley (Drakesville, IA) was cited for a direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act in 2016.

Link to USDA records.

  • DIRECT VIOLATION: A Boxer was extremely emaciated, very little fat covering her frame causing her flanks to sink behind her rib cage. (August, 2, 2016)

  • Note, this USDA report was available online before the 2017 “record black out”. 

Learn more about our Daniel Hochstetler, a USDA Licensed Kennel:

Daniel Hochstetler, a Michigan breeder, testified at the May 2018 House Committee meeting. He did not mention his USDA violations, or how large his facility was. He was cited for expired medications and a poodle was observed with a wound on her shoulder. Daniel Hochstetler’s adult dog inventory:

Inspection Date
# of Individual Licenses
Compared to USDA Inventory