Ten breeders and brokers, 473 USDA violations
BY OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007
5/11/08 at 11:38 PM
For more: Search a database of U.S.D.A. inspection reports, watch videos and a slide show and read the other stories in the series.
Network rescues animals in need
Investigation finds issues in industry
The violations include
fouled or improper housing
and inadequate veterinary care.
Substandard conditions at Oklahoma
kennels have forced dogs to live in filthy
conditions while others suffer with skin
infections, parasites and diarrhea without
veterinary care, a Tulsa World investigation
The World has identifi ed 10 dog
breeders and brokers with the highest
number of violations during a three-year
period. Combined, they have amassed 473
violations from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, records show.
Through the Freedom of Information
Act, the World obtained inspection
records that shine light on Oklahoma dog
breeders and their violations.
Between October 2003 and October
2006, 19,304 animals lived with feces underfoot
or suffered with diseases or health
complications without receiving proper
veterinarian care, records show. Other
animals were housed in rusty pens or kennel
buildings that lacked adequate upkeep
among other items found by the USDA.
The neglected animals included some
cats and other animals. The records do not
include breeders selling directly to the public
and therefore exempt from USDA oversight.
USDA inspectors issue violations to
commercial breeders and brokers who
violate the federal Animal Welfare Act of
1966. A licensed broker is an individual
who purchases animals from a breeder or
other source for resale in the wholesale or
retail market. Some brokers also provide
animals to research facilities.
Shelia Gamblin recorded the most
USDA infractions among Oklahoma’s 645
commercial breeders between 2003 and
2006, records show.
The USDA cited Gamblin’s kennel
— S&W Kennels in Atoka — with 77 violations.
Gamblin appears to have voluntarily surrendered her USDA license.
The USDA assessed a fine of $3,187
against Gamblin on Oct. 25, 2006, as part
of a settlement agreement. The maximum
penalty for a violation can be $3,750 per
count per day in some cases, said Andrea
McNally, USDA spokeswoman.
Gamblin could not be reached for comment.
Gamblin’s violations include: sick animals
without proper veterinary care, urine
and feces in dog pens, expired medicine
and dog pens that needed painting and
upkeep, inspection records show.
USDA records show that Gamblin’s
kennel was inspected in August 2006 and
found to be deficient in several areas. The
USDA instructed Gamblin to correct the
errors. A follow-up inspection in October
2006 found repeated violations and additional
Specific examples of Gamblins’ USDA
October 2006: Fecal matter and urine
were standing on concrete runs. The dogs
were having to walk around or through
the waste. 59 dogs affected.
October 2006: Excessive number of
flies outside the enclosure and inside the
building. Fly spray was being used but the
flies were not under control. 213 adults
and 69 puppies affected.
August 2006: Dog #266 had hair missing
all over face. The skin was crusty yellow.
No vet had looked at the dog. Dog needs to
be taken to the vet for proper treatment.
August 2006: Staph infection has been
diagnosed on puppies and some adult dogs.
Dogs need to be re-examined by vet and
written documentation of the diagnosis and
treatment made available upon inspection.
Henry Lee Cooper, owner of C&C
Kennels, recorded the most infractions as
a commercial broker. Located in Wewoka,
Cooper received 48 violations during the
three-year period examined. He declined
the opportunity to comment.
Cooper’s USDA infractions include lack
of veterinary care, feces in animal pens
and lack of attention to facility upkeep,
For example, a USDA infraction in October
2006 states: ‘‘Dogs #8355, #8381 and
#8366 are very thin, have bloody stools
and have tucked abdomens. All need to
be seen by a veterinarian to assess their
health and receive proper treatment.’’
Reda Ratliff had 23 USDA violations
between 2003-2006 including sanitation,
veterinary care, facility upkeep and feeding
and watering violations. Ratliff is No.
6 on the top 10 list of breeders with USDA
violations, records show. Her kennel is
located in Jones.
Ratliff is the president of the Southeast
Chapter of Oklahoma Pet Professionals, a
group of dog breeders seeking to improve
kennel conditions for animals while changing
the public’s perception about commercial
Ratliff did not return calls made by the
Fellow dog breeder Gary Phillips said
Ratliff is working hard to comply with all
USDA regulations. Phillips is the president
of Northeast Chapter of Oklahoma
‘‘Anyone who knows Reda knows her to
be very dedicated to the pet industry and to
the education of new breeders into the pet
industry,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘She is conscientious
and tries to better industry standards.’’
USDA inspectors make unannounced
visits to breeders and brokers in their area,
said Jim Rogers, a USDA spokesman.
Noncompliances can add up and land
a breeder or broker in USDA administrative
court. The USDA has 105 inspectors
nationwide. Oklahoma has seven inspectors
assigned to the state with five of those
living in the state.
Regulations include ensuring proper
cage size, protection from the weather,
sanitary conditions and adequate veterinary
care for the animals.
In addition to inspecting dog kennels,
the inspectors are responsible for inspecting
facilities that use animals for research.
‘‘It’s kind of like a restaurant inspection
in which deficiencies are flagged and the
person can be given a chance to correct the
noncompliances,’’ Rogers said. ‘‘It becomes a
problem when there are repeat defi ciencies.’’
While this dog pen meets the USDA requirements of adequate cage size, the sanitary
conditions are a violation of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act.