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Note: This article is part two of a four part series investigating the links between the United States Department of Agriculture and radical animal rights organizations.  These articles were written by Philip Christofanelli, with The Cavalry Group, a national organization which defends the Constitutional rights of animal owners and breeders.  Visit the previous article here.


The bottom line is that the contemporary “animal rights” movement and its various factions are not what they seem. For every legitimate concern, there are dozens of front groups operated and funded by extremists with radical agendas. For instance, over the past several years, the ASPCA, PETA, and HSUS have been waging a war against so-called “puppy mills.”  They lead Americans to believe that their focus is on rogue, unscrupulous dog breeders, but in a recent interview, the ASPCA admitted that they consider even law-abiding dog breeders to be “puppy mills.” Animal rights activists hold the belief that bringing new, pure-bred dogs into existence is unethical so long as there are dogs in shelters. Thus, they seek to put every law-abiding dog breeder permanently out of business by any means necessary.  


Their public relations war against dog breeding has raked in countless millions from unsuspecting donors who are unaware of the fact that almost none of this money actually goes to the care of dogs. The numbers of abused animals are inflated and exaggerated to the point where you would think that puppy mills were an epidemic. In reality, all most all dog breeders are hard-working, rural Americans, who take very good care of their animals.  


Recently, the activists have turned to a disturbing, new tactic of singling out individual breeders andpublishing their names, their addresses, and photographs of their breeding establishments. Where do they obtain such information, one might ask?  The answer: None other than our own government, courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.  The USDA, once tasked with protecting American farmers and breeders, has crawled into bed with the most anti-farming elements of the Left.  Despite the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) explicitly granting a protection through Exemption 6 for any personal information that can be linked to an individual, the USDA decided to respond the ASPCA’s FOIA request by handing over the personal information and inspection photos of dog breeders from all over the United States.


As part of the inspection process, the USDA takes these photographs of breeding facilities in order to ensure compliance.  Many breeders report being told that these photos are to be used only for the purpose of inspection.  Several contactedThe Cavalry Group, an organization which defends the rights of animal owners, horrified to find pictures of their homes and businesses on the ASPCA website.  Many of the photos were over 10 years old, and some included pictures of businesses that have changed owners.  In several notable cases, the breeder in question had been deceased for many years.


The ASPCA wants people to believe that these photos depict a day-to-day reality of all dog breeding facilities.  The photos, however, were taken out of context in order to support an exaggerated claim of widespread animal abuse and to renew calls for widespread regulation of the dog breeding industry.  In reality, the breeding facility in question corrected any areas of non-compliance with the law shortly after the inspection.  Yet today, their businesses are being perpetually smeared by an organization that seeks to bring about an end to pure-bred dogs in favor of adoption from shelters, all with the help of our own government.

The ASPCA is well within their rights to advocate for adoption, but using out of date information to smear the reputations of individual dog-breeders is going a step too far.  Most importantly, the USDA should not be skirting FOIA exemptions in order to accommodate the agenda of radical activists.  However, when the USDA is essentially bought and paid for by these very same groups, we should not expect anything less.  A once-sensible objective of animal welfare has been corrupted by today’s activists, who exploit government in order to put animals ahead of humans at any cost.

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  1. Ann says

    Someone who wrote this article is clueless. I live in a rural area and I can tell you for a fact, rural people have no conscience as to their treatment of animals. Most of them are living hand to mouth and barely vet their animals, only in cases of emergency. Dogs – well forget dogs. They won’t spend money to get them spayed or neutered, they keep them outside in all kinds of inclement weather, they leave them to roam free to fall prey to other animals or to get hit by automobiles. Before, you write such falsehoods, check your facts. I, for one, am very happy the USDA exposed these people. For once, I am in complete agreement with our government.

  2. Ariviste says

    There is a big difference in ethical breeders who do genetic and DNA testing on their breeding stock and the USDA breeders. Ethical breeders have small numbers of animals, test for genetic problems, neuter those animals who have and will transmit those problems, and keep their dogs as part of the family. They are loved and cared for. Puppies are given prenatal care and all shots and veterinary care after they are born until they are sold at 10 to 12 weeks. USDA breeders keep their stock as livestock, often in small cages in very unsanitary conditions. No testing is done because it is expensive. Dogs are bred who are often closely related, and puppies are taken from their mothers at a very young age, typically 5 to six weeks. They are given little care before and after birth. Mothers are bred over and over, and when they can no longer conceive, they are euthanized or otherwise disposed of. There is no socialization, and pedigrees are unreliable because dogs are allowed to free breed and the breeder has no idea who the sire of the puppies is. The term breeder is tossed around liberally. Be sure you buy from someone who tests, has cared and socialized his puppies and has the goal of improving the breed. If you aren’t willing to do that, then adopt from a shelter. Shelter pets are as reliable as USDA puppies, and sometimes more so because they have survived.

  3. Amber says

    In defense of dog breeders, I have bought 3 dogs directly from the breeder as puppies. I have obtained three dogs from animal shelters. The dogs I bought from the breeders never gave me any trouble and were very healthy. The dogs I got from shelters all had problems which was probably why they were in the shelters in the first place. I am certainly not advocating not getting a dog from a shelter or the SPCA, but people do need to be aware they may have some problems.

  4. juansantiago says

    Very good articles, Mr. C. – I have raised GSD’s and Eng. Mastiffs and purebred cats but am quitting everything since the money involved is not enough to compensate for all the hoops you must jump through and then you still get labeled as a bad breeder if one ornery person doesn’t get compensated for hundreds of dollars of vet bills that could have been avoided by not changing the pet’s food suddenly, or by bringing the pet back temporarily, as per instructions. Is there anything more unrealistic than expecting a pet to never get sick, when all animals and humans get childhood diseases as part of their normal growth? It is as silly as suing your OBGYN doc when your toddler gets a cold! Remember, for a pup or kitten, between 8 weeks to 6 months of age is their “toddler” stage and they are being moved from one environment to another, which is similar to us vacationing in Mexico. Don’t be surprised if diarrhea shows up temporarily. But ignorant new pet owners think there is something wrong with the pet due to the breeder’s neglect. Good. I hope they are happy when they run all the conscientious breeders out of the U.S.A. and pets (which will still be much in demand) are all smuggled in from Mexico where there are no regulations that require air conditioning, proper vaccines, or parasiticides. And as far as the HSUS goes, they do not realize that the people that need to be faulted are not the purebred breeders, which are by and large animal lovers who keep the standard up on their wonderful breeds, but the millions of irresponsible pet owners who allow their animals to have litters and then have no requirements of those that get the offspring. Nearly all for-profit breeders require spay/neuter and check the new owners out before placing a pet. Lastly, there is a huge and growing number of pet breeders who are being slandered and ruined by anonymous and slanderous reports on the online boards that field complaints without necessarily letting the breeder know from whom. There are thousands of complaints against cat and dog breeders. Are all the breeders in the country that bad, or is it just that all of them occasionally place a pup or kit that then comes down with a cold or worse disease? I think these boards are horrid and that in this country, we are supposed to be able to confront our accusers, which is disallowed by this process, as it is run by an overseas group which apparently requires thousands of dollars to give you the name of the person who made the complaint. I wonder how many of these complaints originate in a group like HSUS or ASPCA or PETA (or their employees?)

    1. Ariviste says

      I am willing to take a puppy back at any age and refund the money if for any reason the owner is not happy with it. A reliable breeder is always around for the new owner with help and advice, and the puppy goes home with a supply of the food he is used to and detailed instructions on care. I bred and showed purebred dogs for 35 years, and made a profit of $2.00 on one litter once. If I almost broke even, I was happy, but I never made a profit on a litter. The objective was to get a nice puppy to show and getting one of my babies was like adopting a child. The kind of owner you described was turned down because I got to know them before they got one of my babies. If I didn’t care for the person, I didn’t sell to them, because profit was not my goal.

  5. Mommamia1 says

    This must be happening on behalf of muslims who hate dogs! Follow the money.

  6. joshuasweet says

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the Muslims consideration that dogs are unclean and the very pro Muslim agenda of the Obama administration?

  7. winki says

    Bottome line. If you want a purebred puppy buy from a breeder. Visit their facility, ask to see the parents, ask to see their kennels. That way you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Then if you don’t like the way they run it, don’t buy. Don’t take the word of online articles that talk down about the breeders. Especially if it comes from ASPCA or PETA.

    1. Ariviste says

      Buy from a breeder who has several females and no males preferably. Pick a breeder who chooses a stud from show dogs over the country, and can show you on a pedigree and tell you exactly why he chose the male he chose to be the sire of the puppies. Every litter bred for show will usually only have one or two show prospects and the rest will be beautiful pets. Your breeder can tell you which are show and which are pets. Find a breeder you can trust and get to know him before you buy a pet that will be with you for the next 12-14 years.

    2. Cathy Cee says

      I would never buy a puppy from a facility. *If* I were to buy a puppy, I would find a reputable breeder who raises puppies in their home, Where they have 24 hour care. Where the pups learn about normal household noises. Where they learn to interact with other house hold members. I would expect to meet the mother and see her interacting with her pups. If she is uncomfortable meeting new people, then her pups could learn that behavior also. I have little care about whether the sire is there, his behavior would have little effect on the pups if he lived in another state. I would expect for the bitch’s owners to use the best stud for their dog as possible, even if they have to import sperm from another area.

  8. blair152 says

    There might honest dog breeders but there’s a sizable minority who have the reputation, justly earned, of being “puppy mills” and having the USDA’s seal of approval means nothing.

    1. Ariviste says

      You are exactly right. I would not buy a dog from any USDA breeder. There is no telling what you will get.

    2. Ann says

      Blair152, you are absolutely right. They are understaffed and subject to bribery and simply put just don’t give a damn.

  9. Alan says

    The main clue here is regulation. Regulation = another way for government to persecute someone while picking our pockets to do it.

    1. Cathy Cee says

      It seems the government wants its hands in our pockets any way they can, over and over again. I feel that too many government employees are over paid for the amount of work they do. There is too much middle management for the number of people who actually do the work. It’s not uncommon for managers to manage only 2 people who themselves manage only 1 or 2. These paper pushers are making the big bucks, while the person doing the actual work makes much less. I know, I was one of the little people, while middle management did little other than to report my output to their manager.

    2. Ariviste says

      Government regulation on dog breeders means exactly nothing.

  10. Reggie M. says

    Isn’t this the M.O. of the Obama administration? Seem only those whom they disagree with have problems which are caused to bully them back in line.

  11. junkmailbin says

    The San Diego SPCA just won their vendetta against pet stores selling puppies. Only shelter dogs or dogs from rescues can be sold. Just a few more unemployed people again. I have had a round with rescues. They want a couple of hundred for the dog, remain the owners, inspect you home, and can take back the dog. Where do they get the dogs, they clean out the shelters. A little collusion goes on where the civic shelters let the rescues know if a certain type of dog comes in. I use mini Schnauzers for my service dogs and adopting one is a huge pain. I have to get up at 5 am and drive to the shelter to be there when it opens.

    The San Diego ordinance wil do nothing. People will just drive to the next town( 3 miles) and use Puppy World.

    What is really urksum is the fact I have to use the spca to get my dogs their CGC cert. To comply with some regulations

    1. Cathy Cee says

      Not all rescues retain superior title. Mine does not. Our adoption fee is often half of what we’ve spent to get them altered, up to date on vaccinations, resolve any health issues etc. The rest is made up from donations. We’ve spent $4000 on dogs to get them healthy and ready for adoption. But that dog goes for our standard adoption fee. We do a home visit so we can get to know the family, find out what dog would best fit with them, to answer any questions they have and to make sure a dog would be safe there (no holes in floors, broken windows, accessible swimming pools etc. We are not there to count dust bunnies, we have plenty of our own.

      1. Joseph A. Nagy, Jr says

        I won’t consider adopting from a rescue that retains superior title. When I adopt a pet, it should be mine. Not the organization I just paid for the animal.

    2. Ariviste says

      Check with the AKC Kennel Clubs in your area. They give CGC test, and the cost is minimal. San Diego has a Kennel Club.

  12. Bandit says

    This is why I will never send money to the aspca or the hsus because of the way they treat dog owners in general.
    This is a group that has committed any number of crimes against people this includes Vets, they even screamed when one person took his dog in for cancer treatment to help save the family dog peta came in and stole the dog from the vets office.

    1. SCOOPNJ78 says

      Peta has one of the worst records with pets. Over 94 % of the pets that come into Peta DO NOT GET OUT ALIVE. ASPCA is not as political as HSUSA

  13. crookedstick says

    As if having only 50-100 puppies is a puppymill! I mean ,if you had 2 or 3,000 THAT would be a Puppy mill! I can fit 50-100 right in my living room!

    1. SCOOPNJ78 says

      the 50 to 100 might be the breeding dogs, literally thousands are sold at pet stores every year. You should read the complaints people have buying these dogs. NO I am not a member of Peta, I am politically conservative, help out with a cat rescue organization, have 12 cats myself, 3 of which were feral when I got them. Most shelters dont even adopt them out, they just put them down. I will not donate to the HSUSA but do to the ASPCA

      1. Switzerland says

        I dont understand why putting down an overpopulated animal is bad.

        1. SCOOPNJ78 says

          Death is forever. I have 3 former ferals and all 3 are loving pets. One is a total nut job that keeps us laughing all day. All these animals need is a chance to be loved. I am pro life for both humans & pets.

        2. Hoodoo H says

          Bro, use your same exact sentence, but replace the word animal with word America. Now…reading it that way will point out to you what OUR Gov’t has in mind for us.
          Get a clue, and fight for the privacy of genuine breeders, not help the Gov’t advance their angenda.
          You see…the only way Big Gov’t can get us is to whittle us down little by little. DON’T FALL FOR IT.

      2. Cathy Cee says

        You know the ASPCA is an animal shelter in New York City, right? Money you donate to them goes towards their business, it doesn’t trickle down to your local animal shelters, humane societies, or SPCAs. Why not donate to your local shelters, so that animals in your area are cared for? (unless, of course, you live in New York City)

        1. SCOOPNJ78 says

          Cathy, ASPCA is more than just one shelter in NYC. This is a nationwide organization, they go to disasters investigate fraud animal fighting & hoarding situations. Yes I do know there is a shelter in NYC, Yes I do know that donations to them do not trickle down to local shelters. Each shelter / rescue group finds its own funding. If you want to help shelters you can go daily to help to Yes you will get emails from them to buy things you are not forced too. There is NO cost to you to click to help shelter pets ALSO please do not confuse humane society from ASPCA 2 different organizations

    2. Ann says

      Criookedstick you sound like a hoarder. If you can fit 50-100 puppies in your living room, I’d hate to see your living room. I doubt seriously if you bet them or even feed them properly, let alone clean up after them.

  14. Legend1776 says

    I got an ad for dvor knives.

    1. Hoodoo H says

      Good…KBARs are wonderful.

  15. crookedstick says

    Cavalry Group is really a covert Group. They are garnering your names and funds to turn them over to HSUS! Do NOT trust Cavalry Group!!

  16. Philip Christofanelli says

    Unfortunately, I have run into this problem with every article I have written about HSUS online. Website’s like Joe’s do not choose the ads, nor do they recieve money directly from the advertisers. The ads are provided by a service which tries to pair the ad with the content of the article via a formula.

    1. Brandy Arena says

      Okay. I was very curious and found it very odd. I just wanted to make sure because I have run into situations in the past where people said one thing and accepted money from another. Thank you for the clarification.

      1. SCOOPNJ78 says

        Most ads are run by the browser you use, they target ads to where you visit on the net.

  17. Brandy Arena says

    I find it very interesting that at the bottom of this article is an HSUS banner ad? Do you accept advertising money from HSUS or were you just unaware?

    1. Switzerland says

      Ads are based on your cookies. Most web pages just sell the space and the ads are generated based on your own web searches and history. I have NO ads on my page as I block them all, clear my cookies and clear my history regularly.

    2. Cathy Cee says

      Find a browser that allows you to use an ad blocking software.

  18. Guest says

    I find it very interesting that at the bottom of this article is an HSUS banner ad? Do you accept advertising money from HSUS?

    1. fearnot says

      no people have no choice on what shows up..

      1. Rose says

        It depends on who you do business with. Some companies let you block certain types of ads, but not specific companies/organizations.

    2. Shorty Stuff says

      Ads? I don’t see no stinking ads!! Install Adblock+ and Ghostery on your Firefox browser and get rid of those ads.

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