Humane Society's list, social media slam hits big Minn. breeder - KMSP-TV

Humane Society's list, social media slam hits big Minn. breeder

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Thousands of social media activists say they want a dog breeder based in central Minnesota to be shut down and the Humane Society already has it on a watch list, but do they have a case?

Along Highway 55 in Meeker County, the A Maze 'N' Farmyard Petting Zoo can be found -- but what can't be seen from the road is the Valleyview Kennel in back, which is where Paul and Sheila Haag breed hundreds of dogs.

There are designer breeds to choose from -- a Morkie for $950; a Shih poo for $750 -- and the Haags have been in the business for 29 years. Now, an anonymous Facebook page is trying to make sure they don't hit 30.

The Facebook group cites USDA inspection reports with repeat violations for veterinary care -- inspectors counting more than 800 dogs and puppies. This month, the Humane Society of the Unites States identified the Haags' kennel -- and 7 others in Minnesota -- as among the 101 worst puppy mills in the country; however, the Haags told Fox 9 News the organization has never sent a representative to their kennel.

The Haags would not talk on camera, but they did provide a tour of the petting zoo. It was very clean and the animals looked healthy. Additionally, an inspector who has seen the property several times told Fox 9 News that while they do have a lot of dogs and an occasional violation, they are far from a "puppy mill."

Fox 9 News didn't see the kennels, which is what really counts; however, the owners believe they are the victims of cyber bullying and that the Humane Society is trying to run them out of business simply because they're one of the largest breeders in the state, not because of their record.

In response, the Haags have enlisted the help of a group called Calvary, which is defending breeders against the Humane Society. They also say that the Facebook page against them never provided their latest inspection report from last July, which was absolutely spotless.

On the other hand, the Haags won't let Fox 9 cameras -- or apparently anyone but inspectors -- see their kennel.

"If the breeder says, 'I'm sorry, we can't show you the conditions,' that's a pretty good indication that they're not being raised humanely," Howard Goldman, Minnesota's representative to the Humane Society of the United States, said.

There are many different organizations calling themselves the “humane society,” but the Humane Society of the United States has had its own legal problems recently and was among other animal rights organizations that paid a $15.75 million settlement to the owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In a complicated decade old maze of lawsuits and countersuits under the RICO statute, the groups were found to have paid a former circus employee $190,000 to be a plaintiff in the case. A judge found the employee subsequently lied under oath.

NEW BREEDING LAWS

On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton signed cat and dog breeding regulations into law, and breeders will be required to get a state license and annual inspections. The Haags say they are already fully compliant.

NOTE: This story has been edited to clarify the terms of the lawsuit settlement stated above

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