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Puppy Mill Article

Recently the Marshfield News Herald has run editorials on the issue of puppy mills.  Please read the editorials shown below.  Then let the Marshfield News Herald know that we agree with their efforts and appreciate their support very much!

Editorial: Increased oversight needed for animal breeders

Posted March 18, 2008

Authorities recently took possession of more than 80 dogs from a breeder near the Pittsville area.

What happened at this particular breeding facility is a matter for investigators to determine, and it's unclear what steps, if any, will be taken. What isn't unclear is the condition in which a few of these dogs were found.

Some people expressed outrage; others, pity; and still others took the opportunity to show their generosity by donating food and supplies to the South Wood County Humane Society, where many of the animals were taken.

In a letter to the editor, Veterinarian Dave Wickersham described what he saw when he did a check-up on one of the dogs.

"The poor young dog that I examined had one of the worst cases of skin disease I'd ever seen. ... She cried when we tried lifting her legs and head to examine her. There were open sores and putrid, crusty debris covering her entire body."

One of the people who retrieved the dogs from the farm, Chuck Wegner, executive director of the Clark County Humane Society, told a reporter that the scent from the barn where the dogs were living made his eyes water.

"It's pathetic; either the greed is so overwhelming the people don't actually see the filth, or at some point they just stop caring," Wegner said.

That's a disturbing picture to say the least.

Authorities visited the farm after a tip, but it wasn't the first time this particular breeder had been investigated, according to Wood County records.

That operation isn't the only one that concerned local animal shelter workers. Wegner was among the protesters at an auction in Thorp last week. Opponents of the sale said the event is heavily tied to puppy mills -- mass breeding businesses which authorities say can be unsanitary and inhumane.

Numerous people are doing what they can to help these dogs. The question is, how can abuse be prevented?

Active enforcement of current laws is an important step, and perhaps it's time for the state to increase the oversight of animal breeders, to require better transparency so buyers have an opportunity to get the information they need to make a responsible purchase.

This isn't a new problem, but with the attention it's now receiving, perhaps there's a better chance for new solutions.


Editorial: Your choices can shut down puppy mills


Posted March 12, 2008

Animal lovers in Central Wisconsin are outragedd-- and rightfully so, it would appear -- over last week's investigation of a "puppy mill" uncovered in Wod County. 

As of this writing, authorities still are looking into the operation at the Dexter home of Darlene Reno, who twice before has been the subject of investigations by humane officers.

Last week, Reno surrendered 84 dogs after the South Wood County Humane Society ( got an anonymous tip that she was keeping animals in unsanitary conditions. Authorities found 75 dogs in a barn that was so littered with excrement that a humane officer's eyes watered when he walked inside, according to Chuck Wegner, Clark County Humane Society director.

One of the dogs since has been euthanized because it was too sick to be saved. The others -- mostly toy breeds -- are being nursed back to health.

"It's pathetic," Wegner said. "Either the greed is so overwhelming the people don't actually see the filth, or at some point they just stop caring. Normal people can't do this, you just can't do it."

Thankfully, there are scores of people in Central Wisconsin who do care and who don't do it. They volunteer at area humane societies, caring for animals at shelters and fostering them at home when shelters are so crowded that kennels are bursting with cats and dogs.

And that's the real problem here. There are simply too many animals and not enough people to adopt them all.

Puppy mills -- facilities that essentially are assembly lines for popular dog breeds -- only exacerbate the problem. They cater to pet stores and unwary customers who are looking for a cuddly friend but who don't know enough to investigate a breeder before buying.

Too often, the dogs purchased directly or indirectly from puppy mills turn up at humane society shelters. Because they're often overbred, improperly socialized and in poor health, puppy mill dogs get surrendered by owners who got more than they counted on when they saw the cute doggy in the window.

That's where this problem must be attacked. Authorities can and should continue shutting down puppy mills in which animals are kept in inhumane conditions. But as long as there are customers, the mills will keep churning out dogs.

The Humane Society of the United States ( offers tips ( on how to avoid buying a mill puppy. They include advice on how to research a breeder, how to choose a breed and how to see through claims made by shady dealers.

(A word of advice if you visit that Web site: Don't click on the "Inside a Puppy Mill" links. Your heart will be broken and you'll have to resist the urge to adopt dozens of abused animals.)

And then there's the most pragmatic solution: Visit your local animal shelter.

There's nothing wrong with purebred dogs. The hundreds of dollars you can spend on one at a reputable breeder will get you a healthy, well-bred dog with the characteristics you're looking for. And breed-specific rescue organizations abound on the Web if you're looking for something particular.

But if you want a loving companion, a friend for the kids or an all-round great pet, shelters are full of prospects looking for homes. Some are purebreds. Some are the product of a chance meeting on a street corner or back yard.

Most are mutts of the first order that will give unconditional love, obedience and companionship in return for a blanket in the corner, some kibble and the occasional scratch behind the ears.

Give them a home.


Photos and Material Copyright © 2008 - 2015 by Clark County Humane Society. All Rights Reserved.