Feds Find Neglected Dogs at Vernon County Puppy Mill; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe


For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2024

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Vernon County, Wis. – Armed with a damning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing that two dogs were denied veterinary care and another dog died at a puppy mill near Hillsboro operated by David A. Miller, PETA rushed a letter today to Vernon County District Attorney Angela Palmer-Fisher asking her to investigate the facility and file applicable charges against those responsible for the animals’ neglect.

According to the just-released report, on February 23 a USDA veterinarian found a dog whose teeth were covered in tartar and plaque and whose upper front teeth were “loose to the touch”—a possible sign of advanced dental disease. Another dog was discovered with discharge around both eyes, and her right eye was hazy and red. Though the dog didn’t want her mouth to be touched, the federal veterinarian was able to observe that at least one tooth was loose and covered in plaque. Neither dog had received veterinary care. The veterinarian also found that two months earlier, on December 22, 2023, a small dog died after apparently jumping into an enclosure that confined larger dogs.

“Neglecting obviously sick dogs is standard procedure in miserable puppy factories like this one, where animals are treated as nothing but commodities,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is urging local authorities to prosecute those responsible for these dogs’ suffering and neglect and calls on everyone never to buy animals from breeders or pet stores, which keep operations like this one in business, and to adopt from animal shelters instead.”

PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no federal criminal or civil penalties.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Palmer-Fisher follows.

April 1, 2024

The Honorable Angela Palmer-Fisher

Vernon County District Attorney

Dear Ms. Palmer-Fisher:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your agency (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting dogs at a breeding facility operated by David A. Miller at E16604A St. Hwy. 82 near Hillsboro. PETA urges investigators to visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in dog health and welfare so that he or she can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 73 animals there.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinary medical officer documented neglect at the facility in the attached report. On February 23, he found that a dog had “tartar and plaque build-up on all of her teeth” and that “[h]er upper front teeth … were loose to the touch.” The federal veterinarian noted that this could be “a sign of a more advanced dental disease.” He documented that another dog had “some dried and wet discharge by her eyes” and that “[h]er right eye was hazy on the surface and the white part had some redness to it.” He also noted that “[h]er left eye had some discharge on the surface and around the eyelids.” The same dog “wouldn’t allow dental observation,” but the veterinarian saw one tooth that was “plaque covered and loose to the touch.” Neither dog had received veterinary care for these conditions.

The veterinarian also found that on December 22, 2023, a dog had died from injuries after apparently jumping over a wall into an enclosure that confined larger dogs.

These findings may violate Wisconsin’s prohibition against mistreating animals, Wisc. Stat. § 951.02, and its prohibition against depriving animals of proper shelter, Wisc. Stat. § 951.14. The USDA’s action renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, carries no criminal or civil penalties, and doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of animal neglect. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see the contact information for the office in Riverdale, Maryland, here. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let us know if we can assist you.


Elise Fisher

Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department



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