Iowa's Black Friday wasn't just for the shoppers. Last Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., educational demonstrations took place in front of Dyvig's Pet Shoppe. Protesters for the organization Bailing Out Benji were at the store talking to citizens of Ames about puppy mills and the dangers of buying dogs when people know nothing about the breeder.

The pet advocacy organization will be protesting outside of Dyvig's Pet Shoppe in Ames every Saturday through Christmas Eve.

Iowa has nearly 300 USDA-licensed, large-scale commercial dog-breeding facilities, the second largest number in the nation behind Missouri. Each year, approximately 100,000 puppies are born in Iowa breeding facilities, with many of these puppies being exported to pet retailers across the country.

Nearly 4 million shelter dogs and cats are euthanized annually. Dyvig's Pet Shoppe has disclosed that the puppies they sell come from Century Farm Puppies, a large USDA-licensed breeding facility in Grundy Center, Iowa. The center carries as many as 578 dogs on the premises per recent USDA inspection reports.

"Our ultimate goal is to get Dale Dyvig to recognize that partnering with a breeder is detrimental to the well-being of the homeless animals in Ames," said Mindi Callison, the founder of Bailing Out Benji. "We are asking that he start partnering with local animal rescues and shelters instead to offer adoption events."

Callison continued to explain that although there are great breeders out there, none of them would sell through a pet store, online or in a newspaper. Reputable breeders care where the dogs are going and would do extensive research on the family.

"Pet stores are not allowed to ask where the pets are going. The breeders are just in it for the money," Callison said. "These dogs are not 'purebred' and the only reason the price tag is so high on them is because the consumer doesn't realize what they are paying for. It costs next to nothing for these breeders to breed the dogs."

Dale Dyvig, owner of Dyvig's Pet Shoppe, says the protesting doesn't affect the workers because the store knows they buy from a good breeder.

"We are trying to get along the best we can," Dyvig said. "I'm not sure what they want, but I get to be the victim."

Dyvig added that there are two sides to everything because there are good breeders out there and they are trying to meet somewhere in the middle with the protesters.

"We provide the choice to adopt a dog from a shelter or buy one from our store," Dyvig said. "We simply don't have a big enough store to have adopted dogs."

However, Callison emphasizes the importance of adoption, especially with regards to the potential fate of the animal.

"When you buy from a shelter, you are actually saving a life," Callison said. "You are giving an animal a second lease on life."

(14) comments

Mindi Callison

Thank you for this very well-written article! I do want to add that we have talked to Mr. Dyvig about what we want many times and this was the next logical step. While we hate demonstrating outside of a local business, it can all stop if he just replaces his puppies and kitties from the breeder and focus on having adoptable dogs in his store instead! There are many rescues that would gladly have small breed dogs in the store so they, too, can share the spotlight.

I also want to thank the volunteers that aren't from Bailing Out Benji. We have many volunteers from student organizations on campus, volunteers from local animal rescues as well as those animal lovers that just care enough to donate their time. Thank you all!

Ruth Keezer

Mindi Callison needs to visit a USDA facility and see THE TRUTH instead of slandering licensed dog breeders. At a kennel, you don’t just put in your 8 hours and then go home. It is a round-the-clock endeavor raising healthy puppies and caring for the breeding dogs. Raising dogs is a very labor-intensive job of feeding, watering, cleaning up dog-poop (yes, dogs do that, a lot!), maintaining facilities in proper condition, sanitizing, laundering, vaccinating, worming, grooming, scrubbing floors (and walls, etc), transporting puppies/dogs to vet when needed, ordering supplies, checking dogs for any problems, recordkeeping (for USDA, registries, state, etc), supervising the birth of puppies, etc. That is in addition to any unexpected and unscheduled events needing attention and visits from USDA, state, AKC, etc. Who in their right mind would think that breeders do all this just for money? There are much easier ways to make a living!
Callison also says "These dogs are not 'purebred'. Really? Breeders spend an awful lot of money on registration to certify their dogs ARE purebred! Many kennel dogs are DNA’d also to prove parentage. Professional breeders spend a lot of effort selecting the right combination of dogs to get those cute healthy puppies! Even purposeful hybrid breeding involves selecting the proper parents to achieve a desired result.
Now the BIG lie: Callison says ‘It costs next to nothing for these breeders to breed the dogs." What a joke! Feed, vaccines and preventative medicines, veterinary fees, licensing fees, employees, kennel repairs, electric bills, plus all the essential items for grooming, cleaning, housing, etc cost a LOT of money. That isn’t even counting the cost of the breeding stock or initial investment of the facilities. Try paying the kennel bills for just one month! Kennels do not get donations to help defray costs like rescues and shelters do. They rely solely on puppy sales to cover costs of maintaining the kennel.
Another lie: “although there are great breeders out there, none of them would sell through a pet store, online or in a newspaper.” How else do you think they facilitate sales for their puppies? MOST great breeders use at least one of those avenues of advertisement, AS DO RESCUES AND SHELTERS! Truth be told, the rescues and shelters want to be the ONLY way people can get a dog. They want to take away the free choice of customers to get a well-bred, cute, healthy puppy.

Lisa Kuehl

USDA-licensed dog breeding facilities, commonly known as "puppy mills," vary immensley in the quantity of breeding dogs kept (some kennels keep a handful of parent dogs on site, while others house more than 800 dogs) and adherance to the federal Animal Welfare Act minimum care standards. Data and photos from recent USDA inspection reports document many Iowa kennels in non-compliance with these minimum standards. The dog breeding industry is often fraught with misrepresentation, making it difficult for consumers to make informed choices when shopping for a puppy. Buyers are urged to carefully research their breeder or ask many detailed questions of their pet retailer. And to consider adoption as an alternative to purchasing. Millions of cute, healthy, often well-bred adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are put to death in our nation's shelters every year. Choice in pet ownership is nice to have, but the social costs and ethical ramifications need to be considered. For more information, please visit

Kathy Carter

Just to keep the discussion going, I imagine Mindi would visit a USDA approved facility if she could (and see the entire operation.) From what I understand, most often the public (and customers) simply are not allowed. And I wonder too about the pictures taken of some of the "USDA approved" facilites. How are they to be explained, when the stench of urine is enough to run the inspector out of the faciltiy? I might add, the "facility" appeared to be a semi trailer, stacked high with cages without bottoms, so the urine and feces just dripped onto the dogs below. Really, HOW CAN THIS BE EXPLAINED? AND HOW CAN ANY "GOOD DOG BREEDER" AGREE TO THIS?

And as far as the USDA goes, their approval means little as they are understaffed as most government entities are, with jurisdiction and work loads spread thin. Those breeders who truly care should join in the fight and put those breeders who operate out of semi trailers out of business (it would seem they are giving "the good breeders" a bad name.) And of course open doors and show the public (and customers) their facilities and put the controversary to rest. I simply cannot help but believe something is hidden behind closed doors.

And finally I also find it hard to believe that someone who keeps 578 dogs (!) is not in it for "the money."

I applaud Mindi, she's tireless in her efforts to make a difference in the lives of dogs (and cats) in the state of IA.

James Sampica

"Truth be told, the rescues and shelters want to be the ONLY way people can get a dog. They want to take away the free choice of customers to get a well-bred, cute, healthy puppy."

Maybe it's because millions of dogs and cats are already euthanized every year?

It's pure selfishness that drives this. Animals aren't a consumable.

Jeff Verner

I believe some who have replied here have a distorted view of things, the impression the USDA is involved everything must be ok and puppy mill operators take the best care of dogs, and are not in it for the money, what?!?!? If everything is so rosy breeders would be inviting the public to view the facilities, which doesn't happen. The disgusting photos you have seen are very real and there are dogs living in those conditions now. There are those who choose to ignore it.
The puppy mill industry has had the benefit of concealment for all too long and now information and photos are getting out, people are becoming informed, laws are changing. There is still much to be done. Thank God for people like Mindi Callison

Agape Fosters

Let's face the truth here, reputable, high quality breeders are rare especially in the Midwest.
You know who they are by the fact you do not see their ads in newspapers, (they don't need to do that), they have genetics tested and only use those dogs that pass EVERYTHING including temperment test.
They have high quality setups and ALL the dogs are HIGHLY SOCIALIZED and EXERCISED and raised as part of the family.
They have a very small number of dogs as to keep the focus on GENETICS, EXERCISE, SOCIALIZATION and a HUGE amount of work is done to screen potential homes. In fact there is no breeding done unless approved homes are in place, the criteria is high as is the price tag.

That is why I will drive it home until my dying day to ADOPT instead of SHOP unless you can find that rare breeder that does it ALL the right way.
Breeding dogs/cats is a money making scam, talk is cheap about the care and love the majority of animals receive in and out of kitty/puppy Mills.

I clean up the messes physically, emotionally and financially with these animals due to those that ride on the backs of them for a $, including selling them off to any degenerate whom opens their wallet or hands over a credit card.
While Mills and far to many breeders chuckle all the way to the Bank.
It's criminal and completely immoral.
And until the so called "reputable" breeders step up and start cleaning house on those that are giving all a bad name, you have to live with that negative label "Breeder" as it is more and more becoming a bad term.

And don't blame the Rescues and Shelters, blame your fellow breeders and help us put a stop to those that are doing it wrong.

Go ahead, try and kill the messenger (message) all you want, we are coming out in record numbers to say no more, and it is too bad some quality breeders have to be clumped in with those that have no business having their hands on any animals much less mass producing them but until it's cleaned up that's the way it is.

And us small Rescues get few donations, and we do what Traditional Shelters, Puppy Mills and Breeders won't, we save those with medical issues just for starters when no one else will and we do it for no paycheck, in fact we help fund it our of our own pockets.
There are also some Rescues that have no business handling animals, and like bad breeders I am more then happy to call them out too.

I'm part of the solution not the problem, are you?

My Dyvig, wake up and smell the carcasses, you sir are part of the seedy business of pet brokering, shame on you. Educate yourself!

Jeff Verner

"We are trying to get along the best we can," Dyvig said. "I'm not sure what they want, but I get to be the victim."

umm WRONG Dyvig the dogs languishing in puppy mill cages are the victims, THAT is the point

Janet Schminkey

I am so glad to see someone actually print this and state the facts on Iowa's problem with puppy mills. Dyvigs are selling mill puppies regardless of who their wholesaler is. Our state shelters, rescues, etc.. are over flowing and animals are put down needlessly. If one less person bought a pet store puppy one less of these would have been put down. If Iowa could follow suit with Canada, California and others who are closing pet stores, it would be more than a blessing. It only makes sense. It's only that simple! ADOPT and don't shop

Janet Schminkey

After reading into the comments deeper I had to comment further in support of those who are stating the truth per investigations, reports and all. Puppy mills are a high market operation and the goal is to rake in alot of money for as little as possible being put out. These breeders will purchase the minimum USDA required medicines in bulk, thus is wholesale to vaccinate the pups themselves and/or they have a contract with a vet., the cages are not kept clean, the puppies are not healthy by living in the conditions that are neglected. Shelters, fosterers, etc.., have their pets vet. checked and vaccinated, clean cat boxes and feces daily while also exercising and interacting with the animals. Their hearts are in the right place and it's a hard place when your heart is breaking with each animal that comes in. This is work and then.. having to place them is a hard job. They are not paid to do this and depend on their own money KUDO's to every fosterer, shelter, rescue and all. These animals learn to love and appreciate when mill puppies are sadly enough cut off from exercise and interaction. The list goes on and on. I know, I talked with each concerned and heart broken customer who bought a sick and many times died a young age puppy from a store shut down in my city. Puppy mills are in the business to make alot of easy money. Why else will they not allow the customer the ability to see where the puppies come from.? Mindi's dedication is astronomical and I'll bet she sleeps alot less because of it.

Pam Said

After reading the article what I didn't understand was that Dyvigs Pet Shoppe felt like a victim. I really didn't understand that. He is selling puppy mill puppies for a hugh profitt. In my opinion the victims are the puppies and the unsuspecting people purchasing puppies that could be very sick coming from an environment of filth and cruelty.

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