Paul and Sheila Haag have run the Valley View Kennel for decades. It's situated on Highway 55 in Eden Valley, behind their popular petting zoo, A maze'n Farmyard.
But as FOX 9 reports, a group of anonymous activists are trying to shut down the Haags' operation, ginning up support with a Facebook page called "Shut down A maze'n Farmyard." The group, which has more than 2,600 likes, says the kennel is a puppy mill that mistreats the animals and is a well-known offender when it comes to inspection violations.
The Haags tell FOX 9 they're not a puppy mill, and have enlisted help from an animal owners rights organization to defend their business.
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The five most recent Valley View Kennel USDA inspections can be seen here, by searching for "Haag" and click the "Inspection Information" tab.
The anti-kennel Facebook group cites two reports from 2012 – one on Feb. 14, the other on July 24 (both link open a .pdf file) – that each resulted in eight violations. Both cite a lack of veterinary care, listing some health concerns with specific dogs. For example, a white and greyshi-zu with a grey, hazy film covering one eye; four dogs with a "swollen pink growth" in a front paw, three of which had ruptured; excessive nail growth; a red ulcer-like mass in one eye.
The kennel was also cited for small or improper enclosures, old chewed-up food receptacles and a build-up of feces, food waste and dirt.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent out a warning following the inspections.
The group also points to the fact that the Humane Society named the Valley View Kennel on its list of "101 problem puppy mills." The Humane Society notes it could be one of the larger "puppy mills" in the country, and probably the second-biggest in Minnesota.
The St. Cloud Times found some similar violations back in 2004 and 2005.
However, the kennel's most recent USDA inspection – July 2, 2013 (click to view the .pdf) – came up spotless, without one violation. A report about two months earlier had counted three violations, only one involving immediate health concern with a dog (swelling and a limp in one leg).
An inspector who has seen the kennel on more than one occasion tells FOX 9 that, while the number of dogs is very high (the most recent inspection counted 510 adult dogs, and 291 puppies) and the kennel has some violations on its record, it is "far from a puppy mill."
The owners tell the station they believe the Humane Society is targeting them because of their kennel's size, not the conditions, and the Humane Society has never sent a representative to their kennel.