Humane society buys, closes large puppy mill

Humane society buys, closes large puppy mill

Jul 30, 2008
By staff
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Milwaukee, Wis. - The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) agreed to purchase the assets of one of the nation's largest dog-breeding facilities, then shut down the operation and tried to find homes for more than 1,100 dogs currently housed there.

Wallace Havens, owner of Puppy Haven Kennel in Markesan, Wis., about 90 miles northwest of Milwaukee, agreed to sell all assets of the business to the society at a discount. The exact amount was not disclosed, but a society board member said it was for "pennies on the dollar."

Havens, 72, is retiring and not interested in pursuing another dog-breeding business, according to the society.

A sale of this nature is unprecedented nationally, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Puppy Haven sold about 3,000 dogs a year to pet stores and dealers in the Midwest. Breeds include pugs, beagles, poodles, miniature Schnauzers, Shi Tzus, American Eskimos, Yorkshire terriers and "designer" mixed breeds.

All 1,100 dogs are being evaluated by WHS veterinarians and will be spayed or neutered, then transferred to Milwaukee gradually over the next several months as they become more accustomed to human contact and homes for them are found, according to Victoria Wellens, WHS executive director. About 300 dogs were transferred since February in anticipation of the sale.

Havens was suspended and fined by the American Kennel Club in 2006 for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and lack of veterinary care, and the HSUS says it also received complaints about the operation.

The society says PetSmart Charities donated some equipment and supplies for the dogs, but that contributions are needed to help cover remaining needs.

For more information or to donate, visit the society's Web site.