Minnesota Breeders Named on National Worst Puppy Mills List

In May of this year, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released their annual “The Horrible Hundred” list, which lists the names and locations of the 100 worst puppy mills in the United States. Only 16 states had mills on the list — and horrifyingly, Minnesota was one of those states, with three breeders listed. 

This is who they are.

1. Renner’s Kennels in Detroit Lakes

Dogs were found with fleas and skin disorders at Renner’s Kennel (Photo: USDA)

Dogs were found with fleas and skin disorders at Renner’s Kennel
(Photo: USDA)

From the report: “During three separate visits since our last report was published in May (May 2014, Sept. 2014 and Nov. 2014), USDA inspectors found sick or injured dogs at Renner’s Kennel. The issues included dogs with swollen areas of red skin, a husky with a ‘reddened and cloudy right eye,’ and a Greyhound with signs of severe dental disease that ‘can make it difficult for the dog to eat’ and ‘can be painful,’ according to the USDA inspector. In July 2014, the USDA gave Renner an official warning for violations of federal regulations for the failure to maintain adequate veterinary care for several animals. In February 2014, four dogs were found with injured paws, and two of the buildings had such strong odors that the inspectors said they felt ‘a burning sensation in our throats,’ and in the puppy nursery, ‘our eyes also felt a burning sensation.’”

This is Renner’s Kennels third time on this list.

2. Clearwater Kennel, Inc. in Cushing

From the report: “The complaint alleges that Clearwater Kennel, Inc. willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act by failing to establish and maintain a program of adequate veterinary care, failing to provide the proper cleaning, maintenance and sanitation, and failing to maintain enough employees to carry out the level of care needed by the enormous number of dogs at the facility. Clearwater Kennel, Inc. is one of the largest puppy mills in the country, with more than 1,000 dogs. February 2014 violations at Clearwater Kennel included a strong ammonia (urine) odor, rodent feces near the dogs’ food, and excessive dog feces in the enclosures that left ‘limited areas for the dogs to walk or stand without coming into contact’ with their own wastes, according to a USDA inspection report.”

Clearwater Kennel is one of the largest puppy mills in the country and has made this list three times.

3. Michelle Sonnenberg in Detroit Lakes

From the report: “In June 2014 an inspector found the same standing water issue in three different barns that contained a total of 306 dogs and puppies, and noticed that the standing water was buzzing with flies – yet the same issue was noted again in October 2014, when the inspector noted that the water was ‘dark, dirty and mixed with excreta’ and presented a ‘risk of odors, insects and disease hazards.’ In February 2013 an inspector noted an ‘ammonia level strong enough to make the inspector cough and feel a burn in the back of the throat’ and other problems.”


While it’s horrifying that Minnesota breeders made this list, there’s also reason to hope that these breeders will be shut down (or forced to improve conditions drastically) in the years to come. Since the passage of the 2014 MN Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill, standards of care for commercial breeders have become more strict. [Related Story: MN Breeder Bill Passes!]

This law, which decreed that all breeders must allow the MN Board of Animal Health to inspect their facilities to enforce laws and ensure animal care standards are met, went into effect on July 1, 2014. It stated that all breeders had to register with the state before July 1 of this year.  Then by July 1 of this year, all breeders must be licensed and inspected by the MN Board of Animal Health with annual inspections thereafter.

Unfortunately, the USDA inspectors have noted that Clearwater Kennel “has a history of temporarily coming into compliance, only to be found with additional severe violations at subsequent visits,” so this may be a long battle.

20 thoughts on “Minnesota Breeders Named on National Worst Puppy Mills List

  1. shelly

    These breeders need to be shut down permanently, this is horrible, the dogs do not deserve to live like that. I am ashamed they were found in minnesota….lock them up!!

      1. Marina

        These breeders need to be shut down permanently, this is horrible, the dogs do not deserve to live like that. I am ashamed they were found in minnesota….lock them up!!

  2. Barbara Mares

    They were given how long to register? What happened if they didn’t register by the deadline? Probably a meaningless slap on the wrist as usual. And the inspectors were given 2 YEARS to do the FIRST inspection?! That’s ridiculous to say the least! And what are the consequences? A written reprimand (or several of them) isn’t going to do squat because clearly they don’t care. They need to be slapped with heavy fines and jail time (with no work release like Kathy Bauk got) after the second offense for the same thing. And temporarily correcting a situation to pass an inspection should constitute intentional fraud. There needs to be zero tolerance for people who knowingly mistreat a living being.

  3. Wendy

    There should not be puppy mills, let alone a list of “National Worst Puppy Mills”? If you care enough to keep a list, care enough to shut them down. Dogs are NOT livestock!

  4. Brenda Blomquist

    Shut them down permanently! Inspect the breeders who registered last minute now. What about the ones who don’t register? I have concerns about a breeder near me in Blaine. They put signs out at the end of their driveway. So far they have had Berners, Greyhounds, shepherds, Boxers and Great Danes. It’s a long driveway and from what I can see when the leaves have fallen are several big rig trailers. The neighbors post signs for white Shepherds. Are my concerns valid? What do you do? How do you become an inspector?

      1. JDW

        Here they are. Found on Google. Contact your elected officials regardless of where you reside and tell them about these locations. Dogs are considered the equivalent of children in the majority of households–ask them what they intend to do to protect these lives. Demand accountability.

        1)Renners KennelRenners Kennel in Detroit Lakes, MN
        30706 179th St., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
        (218) 847-6438

        2) https://www.facebook.com/michelle.sonnenberg.92

        3) Clearwater Kennels Inc.

        (320) 749-3060
        24302 Highway 10, Cushing, MN 56443-2723
        – See more at: http://www.bbb.org/minnesota/business-reviews/pet-boarding-and-kennels/clearwater-kennels-in-cushing-mn-96091346#sthash.K8Pt2AgG.dpuf

  5. Suzanne Sutton

    Why are these breeders allowed to continue on with their business? I don’t understand – if you break the law, you are put in jail – in this case – put out of business – what’s wrong with the “inspectors” — are they animal haters??? Do something good and get rid of the people who are causing so much harm and pain to these selfless animals. Get them out of these HORRIBLE conditions – They would be better off dead than living the way they are now.

    That’s what’s wrong with our government – all politics – This makes me sick!

  6. Marilyn

    Sooo…. are any of these violations followed up on? Are the rules EVER ENFORCED?? Why should one kennel be cited for the same violations over and over again? I think we need new inspectors. People with a backbone.

    1. lynn christopherson

      What the —- is going on! How does a person become an inspector? If you have been on this list 3x they should be shut down for good!!

  7. Lindsey

    To say that the inspectors are at fault is REDICULOUS! They have to work a system…do you really think they can just go in and shut them down? Of course they are animal lovers, but they have to follow procedure. If you want that to change you’ll have to work on changing the law by contacting local and national lawmakers. If you want to help with something tangible and with instant gratification, foster, adopt or volunteer at a shelter. Don’t throw those trying to help the situation under the bus. With repeated inspections, and moreso a societal shift in our value of ‘purebred dogs’ hopefully these puppy mills will be shut down. Adopt don’t shop!

  8. Jennifer

    There are other terrible breeders that arnt on this list. When i was looking for a sugar glider i came across Terri’s Petting Zoo and saw her inspection report and talk to others in the Minnesota area. Heard she uses her husband as a fall back person and has a tiny house with her son and other kids with all of her pets. She breeds sugar gliders, hedghogs, and a thing called a kinkajou that she plans to breed, in which I am unsure if they are ven legal in Minnesota. As far as her gliders goes she has over 50 cages in the small house and some have seen and smelled the condition her gliders are in. Terrible. I wish someone would put a stop to people like her!

  9. JC

    I’ve decided to start fighting crime and all I’ve ever done was martial arts. I love all animals and seeing anything like this makes me want to puke. So here’s the message to all these mn puppy mills. Shut down your mills, or watch everything you own (trailer) get destroyed, then shut down. And if anyone wants to defend this stance, I will let you come meet me.

  10. Sue

    Want to do something about it?
    Contact : Underdogrescue.org
    They are going to a puppy mill auction to try
    Purchase as many puppy mill dogs & puppies
    2 huge mills are going out of business and selling
    The dogs. The rescue is bidding against other
    Puppy Mill owners! If the rescue doesn’t get them
    the dogs continue hell in a different mill Please Foster and SAVE A LIFE!

  11. Jane

    It is ridiculous that this goes on in this state and this country. Breeding dogs needs to be monitored. There are too many homeless dogs in this country of ours because people like the Renners are allowed to stay in business. This is sick and these so called “breeders” need to be shut down along with all the other puppy mills.

  12. Wendi Jawish

    why aren’t these places checked into monthly? so many people need jobs I would be happy to do it, why are these poor puppies and Momma paying the price for these idiots, this should never be allowed, they have a heart and feelings just like you and me, they feel pain and neglect and hunger, please do something about this now!!! there are enough unwanted animals already we do not need this, then the animals suffer with health issues and people get rid of them because they can’t afford it, please help the ones that can’t talk now!!!

  13. Jen Strang

    There’s someone named Meg Margaret that says she sells Westies, but she’s a fraud! Unable to get more information on her! Bad news!


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