The Humane Society of the United States reports that Iowa is one of the top 10 "puppy producing" states in the country, with many of those coming from puppy mills.
Breeders abuse their licensed right to breed by breeding too many dogs in unclean and abusive conditions.
The HSUS announced a new incentive that officials hope will encourage more people to keep an eye out for problem puppy mills: up to $5,000 for a tip that leads to an animal cruelty arrest and conviction.
Genae Stoops, co-owner of Hooves and Paws Rescue in Glenwood, IA said, "This is incredible, maybe we can shut down some of these puppy mills."
Stoops has taken in a handful of puppy mill puppies, all of which, have significant issues.
9-year-old Victoria is a rescue dog that came from a puppy mill in Nebraska. Stoops rescued Victoria when she was 8-weeks old from a puppy mill she suspected had a problem. The owner would not allow Stoops inside to pick out a puppy. She would only send Stoops puppies that looked healthy, even spruced up with a decorative bow.
"We went in several times to see if we could see what was going on and one of the times we went in there was a momma there. She actually had died and they were letting puppies nurse on this momma," said Stoops.
Stoops said due to the bad breeding, Victoria has bad teeth. Her teeth are also ruined from the time she would chew on her metal cage at the mill.
Stoops says many people in rural areas obtain breeding licenses. That's what she credits some of the problem to.
"I think it's too easy and they're out in the country a lot of times where nobody really sees them," Stoops explained.
Victoria will never be adopted out as she has behavioral issues to this day associated with the mill. But Stoops knows life at the rescue is much better than it could have been elsewhere.
The incentive is only awarded if an arrest and conviction is made.
If you suspect a problem, contact the HSUS anonymous tip line at 1-877-MILL-TIP.
You can also contact your local rescue group or shelter.
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