The Puppy Mill Terror

November 2, 2011

Here is a strong example of the horrific treatment of dogs at a puppy mill, and why the animals require our help.

Turkey Hill Kennel in East Earl, Pennsylvania, has been under close watch for persistent violations. Owner Marlin Zimmerman, licensed to have a kennel since 2003, has been given ten state citations between last September and June for inadequate sanitation, eight of which were dismissed, and two to which he pleaded guilty.

The kennel has a CK6 license, which means it sells or breeds over 500 dogs per year. It sells puppies to pet stores in Philadelphia and South Jersey, many of which receive complaints from customers regarding the health of their pets. Amy Worden of the Philly Dawg blog for the Philadelphia Inquirer notes in a post that “[w]ith sales of nearly 600 puppies a year, Zimmerman’s income from his dog breeding operation is easily in the six figures.”

The list of atrocities is lengthy. There is inadequate ventilation in the barn where the dogs are kept, but fans are outside pointing towards the field. The stench of ammonia was so strong when inspectors arrived this past winter that they required respirators.

With the passing of Act 119, the new Dog Law in 2008, many dog breeders in Pennsylvania were allotted three years to clean up their acts. 2011 came around, and Turkey Hill Kennel still did not meet the standards. The kennel inspection performed on Jan. 28, available here, yielded detestable results, finding diseases among the dogs, dirt and rust in the food and water receptacles, enclosures with “an accumulation of food waste, cobwebs, hair, dirt, dust, and debris along tops and corners,” and rat droppings. Conditions had not improved by March 10, nor by June 17, when the kennel was revisited.

Owner Marlin Zimmerman’s gruesome facility won’t be closing at least for another year. His license is extended up through October 2012.

Pennsylvania is considered the “Puppy Mill Capitol of the East.” As a Pennsylvanian, I am disgusted by the lax regulatory sanctions and lack of shut downs of flawed dog facilities such as this one. Thankfully, there are groups that work towards curbing the inhumane treatment of dogs in mills. United Against Puppy Mills  (UAPM) and Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR) are two organizations based in PA that advocate for corrective legislation against the breeding mills and help to inform the public of their malignancy to dogs’ health and happiness. Their commendable work, however, is far from complete.

A CBS Lancaster news story about Turkey Hill Kennel included an interview with Jenny Stephens of the North Penn Puppy Mill Watch. She mentioned that the dogs’ water was frozen, indicative of a lack of proper provisions of warmth from the facility and from the owner himself. She stated: “These dogs can’t speak for themselves.” That is exactly why it is vital we remain aware of the problem, so that we can strive towards correcting abuses to the dogs’ rights.