Shady Michigan Kennels

Michigan is not considered to be a big puppy mill state with only nine commercial breeders and 4% of the licensed breeders having less than 50 dogs. For comparison - Elkhart County in northern Indiana has 16 commercial breeders in just one county. Iowa has 400 commercial kennels in the entire state. 

Michigan dog breeding kennels may be licensed by the county or/and the USDA, however, many breeding kennels are not licensed at all. 

Kennels licensed by the USDA are considered “commercial” and may sell wholesale to pet stores. We usually refer to these as puppy mills because they house and bred a large number of different types of breeds for profit. Dog inventories for Michigan’s nine commercial breeders range from 40 to 135. A Detroit area puppy-buyer may not likely stumble across one of these facilities as they are not located in Southeast Michigan.  Reference chart below.

If a breeder is not selling wholesale, they may obtain a county license, which are not always required. There are approximately 600 county licensed dog breeding kennels in Michigan with the majority of them located in Montcalm and St. Clair counties. Most counties do not have a cap on the number of dogs allowed.  Of these licensed kennels, only 34 may have over 50 dogs. See the Michigan Kennel Study for more details.

We often struggle with the difference between a puppy mill and a backyard breeder – which Michigan is more familiar with. Smaller backyard breeders could certainly be called a puppy mills if they are putting profits first.  Below is a list of Michigan kennel busts that could certainly be called puppy mills. 

2011 – 29 cocker spaniels (dumped)
Salem Township
Washtenaw County

2010 - over 75 dogs seized
Roxanne Webster
Livingston County

2010 – 37 dogs seized
Mostly Whippets
Washtenaw County

2010 – 24 dogs seized
Laura Springborn
Livingston County

2009 – 70 Animals Seized
Kim Koss
Genesee County

2009 - 69 dogs seized
Joan Skillman
Ingham County

2009 - 33 dogs seized
Ackley Kennels
Washtenaw County

2008- 67 Dogs seized
Lorri Nichiow (Lornich Kennels)
Macomb County

2008 - Almost 60 animals seized
Patrick & Dixie Plunkett
Sanilac County

2007 - 232 Dogs
John & Suzette Jones
Barry County

2006 - Over 80 dogs seized
Virginia Lawrence
Calhoun County

2005 - 79 dogs seized
Pamela Keehbauch
Isabella County

Is this a Puppy Mill?

Puppy-buyers “shopping” online are bound to come across either a shady kennel or dog flipper. Any breeder advertising online with a surplus is bound to be focused on profits. By visiting your local shelter, you can eliminate the chances of supporting the puppy mill pet trade. 

If you know someone who is determined to find a breeder, please direct them to these helpful resources. 

Is this a Puppy Mill?

Questionnaire (Red Flags) 


Kim Koss (Davison, MI)

Koss has a history with law enforcement going back to 2003 allowing her dogs to run loose. In 2009 she was charged with a felony for abandonment and cruelty of more than 10 animals (approx 70 animals were seized). Her charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and she has been under court supervision. 

While on probation, Koss was in trouble with the law again. On November 6, 2010 a passerby stopped at Koss’s home and noticed approximately 7 small poodles and shih-tzus running loose. The dogs appeared to be underweight, matted, dirty, had runny eyes, patchy fur, long hair and patches of hair missing. All dogs were un-groomed. There were stacks of cages housing dogs inside as well. When the dogs followed the car out into the busy road, the police were called.

(See all photos)

Officer Haynes stated there were approximately 8 dogs, 2 cats, 10 ducks and multiple farm animals. The police report also stated the dogs were in need of grooming and had an odor. One dog had a visible cyst. Not seeking vet care and allowing the dogs to run freely on the property is a sign of neglect.

For updates on this case go to the PMA Message Board.

Cherie Lane, My Puppy Paradise (Mt. Morris)

On June 8th,2010, Cherie Lane of My Puppy Paradise sold a very ill Pomeranian puppy. It was reported that the puppies from that litter looked lethargic. The pom was later diagnosed with parvo – a deadly virus. The township was notified of the situation and investigated the facility.

On June 29th, local Animal Control found over 50 dogs on the property.
Cherie Lane was ticketed for not having them licensed. This meant that they likely did not have their rabies vacations. Vet information was not provided. The Zoning Officer cited her for having more than 3 dogs violating the township ordinance.

In July, Cherie not only lost her small claims court case over the parvo puppy, but she was evicted from the rental property in
Mt. Morris Township.

On Monday July 26th,
Cherie Lane, paid her $300 to the Mt. Morris Township Zoning Board which would allow her to seek approval to keep more than 3 dogs. The Township notified the neighbors who showed up for the review meeting on August 12th. We had already reached most of them with our petition.

Just after paying her fine, she was evicted by the rental property owners: Claudine & Wilson Desilva for not paying her rent. This meant she no longer needed to speak with the board. We took the opportunity to let the board know that the neighbors did not want dogs left out in kennels for breeding. We have asked the property owners to ban pets from the kennel for a year to protect them from the virus still on the property.

On August 7th, the kennel operation moved out in a hurry leaving the house filled with debris, filth and property damage.

On August 16th, the Zoning Board heard several neighbors concerns regarding the welfare of the animals housed in this kennel. They were concerned about the cleanliness, leaving them out at night subject to weather conditions and the smell. One neighbor was worried about how many times the dogs are bred and did they have air conditioning. The Board also received a letter from the commercial property owners across the street opposing the request. On top of our petition the board made the right decision.

Her motion was denied.

Going forward the owners or renters of this kennel will have to plea their case to the Zoning Board.

Mt. Morris says no to Puppy Mills!

For updates on this case go to the PMA Message Board.