March 26, 2023

Nearly 170 dogs rescued from horrific Iowa Puppy Mill

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By: Laura Goldman From Care2

Months ago, animal rescue groups in northern Iowa notified the Worth County Sheriff’s Office about a commercial breeder who was keeping dogs in terrible conditions without proper care.

“We have tried to work with the individual in addressing the growing concerns about the welfare of her animals over the past several months and unfortunately met resistance,” Sheriff Dan Fank said in a press release.

They finally issued White Fire Kennel a search warrant earlier this month, and investigators made a shocking discovery that’s sadly all too common in puppy mills. Dozens of dogs, mostly Samoyeds, were languishing inside overcrowded, filthy and dilapidated cages with no protection from sub-zero weather or access to clean water.

The ASPCA stepped in to help gather evidence. It removed almost 170 frightened and unsocialized dogs from the property and took them to a temporary shelter. The dogs ranged in age from puppies to nine-year-old seniors.

After the dogs receive medical exams, experts with the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team “will be evaluating each dog and implementing enrichment protocols” at the shelter, according to the ASPCA. This includes dog treats, toys and stimulating activities.

“The dogs definitely are settling in at the shelter,” ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider told the Des Moines Register. “It’s amazing to see them enjoying the treats and kennel space we’re giving them.”

Iowa consistently ranks as one of the worst U.S. states for animal protections. Ten of the worst puppy mills in the country are located in the state, according to the 2018 “Horrible Hundred” report from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Dozens of dogs in these facilities have been found dead, injured or suffering from diseases with no medical treatment.

“Many commercial breeding operations prioritize profit over the well-being of the animals, often producing puppies that suffer from health and behavioral problems,” Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA, said in the press release.

The HSUS bases its Horrible Hundred rankings on inspection data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Unfortunately, the names and owners of these facilities have been a mystery ever since Donald Trump took office in 2017 and all identifying information was quickly removed from the USDA website.

There could be hope, however, that Iowa may strengthen its notoriously weak animal welfare laws. Earlier this year, bill SF2181 (previously known as SF421) was introduced. It would, among many other much-needed improvements, provide a better definition of minimum standard of care for companion animals, enhance penalties based on the severity of an animal’s injuries, and make animal torture a felony.

Meanwhile, adoption offers have been pouring in for the rescued puppy mill dogs, but they won’t be available until a court determines their custody.

As for the breeder, which  the Des Moines Register identified as Barb Kavars, criminal animal neglect charges are pending based on the evidence that the ASPCA collected.


For information about how you can help these rescued dogs, visit the ASPCA website.

Please sign and share this petition urging Iowa lawmakers to toughen the state’s animal welfare laws.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

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