Avoiding Puppy Mills and Finding Established Breeders

They say a dog is a man’s best friend but after nearly 300 dogs were seized from a Madison County puppy mill many Northwest Arkansans are left wondering where their best friend comes from. 
Rescuing is a great way to find a pet and KNWA is proud to support our local shelters. But, what about when you want a specific breed? It’s the reason we have breeders but is also why puppy mills are an ever growing problem in Arkansas.  
Breeders get licensed through the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA. They have to pay for their license, and follow a strict set of rules for their kennels. Regular inspections are conducted and if there are any issues, the license can be suspended or revoked. 
“Arkansas unfortunately is one of the top ten states when it comes to puppy mills in the country,” Greg Leding said in a March interview. “We have anywhere from 700 to 1,000 of them here in the state.”
700 to 1,000 puppy mills just here in Arkansas. It’s a problem that launched our investigation we first reported weeks ago, and a far cry from the number of actual by the book licensed breeders.
In the state of Arkansas there are 124 licensed breeders. Only 16 in Washington, Benton, and Madison counties combined. We wanted to see how a breeding operation is supposed to run.
“I really enjoy my dogs,” breeder Jerry Willett said. “I love them.”
Jerry Willett has owned Little Doggy Ranch in Canehill for 33 years. She’s sold different kinds of dogs, but now focuses solely on Yorkies. 
Willett is licensed by the USDA. 
“The regulations are things you should do anyhow,” Willett said. “It’s not anything that’s 
One of those regulations is limiting who is allowed around the dogs. Before I was allowed to pass the gate I had to put boots on and step in clorox water. 
“If you’ve been where there’s been a sick dog and you’ve stepped you may not even know it,” Willett said. “And anyhow, this keeps my dogs safe. You don’t carry in the germs.”
Willett says the USDA has strict guidelines on kennel size. She tells me Little Doggy Ranch has much larger kennels than what is required and all dogs can go outside or inside. 
On the inside, they have air conditioning or heat, depending on the weather. 
“I can just say for myself: I want a nice, clean, kennel,” Willett said. “I want to raise a nice puppy. I want people to come back to me all the time and buy another puppy from me. And they do!”
Glen Brammer of Brammer Pets in Prairie Grove agrees the dogs need even bigger kennels than what is required. So, that’s what he gives his pugs. 
“They have to be a certain size,” he said. “I think the size they require is too small.”
Brammer is also licensed and says anyone running a puppy mill gives his business a bad name. 
“If they ain’t taking care of dogs they ought to be arrested,” Brammer said. 
Tougher laws are part of new legislation being written by State Representative Jim Sorvillo in Little Rock for the next session. 
The language will be specific to dogs and pets. He will create a low cost registration to identify where breeders are and he will demand harsher penalties.
To find a licensed breeder in your area, click here. 
You can also find information for the breeders in this story here: 
  • Click the “Advanced Search” tab
  • Under “Optional Criteria Items” click “Licensee/Registrant” – “Breeder” will come up. Click “Add Criteria Item” 
  • Also Under “Optional Criteria Items” click “USDA Certificate Status” – “Active” will come up. Click “Add Criteria Item” 
  • Select any city or county you are searching and add that criteria item as well. 
  • When ready, under “Selected Criteria Items” click “Start Search” on the bottom left. 

Breeders names and information will be at the bottom! 

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