Steve Kruse’s Stonehenge Kennels in West Point, Iowa, has been repeatedly cited for failure to provide adequate veterinary care, and the USDA recently suspended Kruse’s license. The two dogs pictured here were suffering from bleeding foot injuries and an eye disorder, according to federal inspectors. (Aerial photo courtesy of Bailing Out Benji. Inset photos taken by USDA inspectors courtesy of Bailing Out Benji.)
Federal officials have suspended the license of a major Iowa dog breeder with a long history of regulatory violations.
Steve Kruse, whose Stonehenge Kennels is located at 2345 Highway 16 in West Point, was notified March 30 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was suspending his license for 21 days. In its notice to Kruse, the USDA said it was taking the action because the agency had reason to believe he had willfully violated Animal Welfare Act regulations and was failing to “meet the minimum standards for animals.”
Kruse operates one of the largest dog-breeding businesses in Iowa. As of March, he had 718 dogs at the rural Lee County location, according to federal inspectors. In recent years, he has been cited for numerous violations and repeatedly appeared on the Humane Society of the United States’ annual list of the nation’s 100 worst dog breeders.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
In December 2015, Kruse received a 21-day USDA license suspension after throwing a bag containing two dead puppies at a USDA inspector.
“Steve Kruse has been in hot water with the USDA for years and, sadly, this isn’t the first time his license has been suspended,” said Mindi Callison, founder and executive director of the animal welfare organization Bailing Out Benji. “It is time for the USDA to officially revoke his license and put an end to this cruel dog breeding facility once and for all.
“Kruse has been given so many opportunities to do better for the animals in his care and it is clear that he has no intention of upgrading his standards to meet the USDA’s regulations or Iowa’s animal cruelty laws,” Callison added.
Using the federal Freedom of Information Act, Bailing Out Benji has collected photos and videos shot by USDA inspectors during their visits to Stonehenge Kennels.
The USDA says that last month Kruse failed to provide appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries to animals, and failed to document and disclose information after a problem with disease, injury or illness was identified.
The 21-day suspension has no effect on Kruse’s ability to own and house animals, although he and his employees are barred from buying, selling, transporting, exhibiting any animals during the suspension.
During a March 7 inspection of Stonehenge Kennels, inspectors cited Kruse for several violations, including a repeat violation for providing inadequate veterinary care. “During the inspection at least five dogs were identified with matted hair coats and five dogs were identified with poor dental health,” inspectors reported. “(Kruse) was unable to produce any medical records that indicate the last time the dogs had received hair coat grooming or dental care.”
“Each of the affected dogs is actively bleeding and most of them have several bloody toes ... Significant amounts of blood are located in the washdown beneath the enclosures, on the enclosure floors and fencing.
– USDA inspector's report
Among the specific issues reported by inspectors that day:
— A female Bernese mountain dog had a bleeding abdominal wound, with “a large amount of blood” emanating from the wound, which appeared to be related to a nearby incision that was marked by skin sutures. Records indicated the dog had recently undergone a surgical, artificial insemination performed by a veterinarian. There was blood collecting on the floor of the dog’s enclosure, inspectors reported. The inspectors also noted a heavy buildup of a hard, thick, brown material encasing most of the dog’s teeth on both sides of her mouth. The dog’s gums were swollen and red. “No treatment was being provided or has been planned,” the inspectors noted.
— A female poodle mix was seen intermittently limping and appeared to be unable to bear any weight on her right front leg. Inspectors found a wound on the right front leg, marked by swelling as well as dried and fresh blood. “No treatment was being provided or has been planned,” the inspectors reported.
— A female Boston terrier was observed squinting out of a reddened left eye that had been left untreated. In addition, more than half the dog’s teeth were encased in a hard, thick, brown material.
— An Australian shepherd dog was seen limping as it walked around its enclosure. Closer examination revealed two untreated wounds on the left front leg, both of which contained blood that had adhered to the dog’s coat.
— A female poodle mix had a reddened right eye that was discharging green, thick fluid. The dried discharge had become crusty and was covering the inside corner of the eye and the eyelid, forming matted clumps. In addition, more than half the dog’s teeth were encased in a hard, thick, brown material. As with the other dogs inspectors examined, her condition “had not been noticed” by Kruse or his staff and no treatment was being provided or planned.
— A female bulldog had two reddened eyes that each were discharging a green, thick, mucus-like fluid. Inspectors also noted the dog’s left front leg was hairless, swelling and draining fluid. A second female French bulldog had an abrasion on the inside of one ear that was discharging fluid. A third female bulldog had a right rear leg that was hairless, reddened and so swollen it “appeared it was about to burst.”
— A male wheaten terrier was seen with a large, matted area, marked by a crusty dark discharge of some kind, on his back. “Records indicated that the cause of the matt(ing) was a mass, with the last treatment taking place on Feb. 16, 2023,” the inspectors reported, adding that the dog’s condition had not been rechecked over the following three weeks.
Inspectors returned to Kruse’s property one week later, on March 14, and again cited him for inadequate veterinary care. The inspectors reported a female Shiba Inu had thick, hard tartar covering most of her teeth, and a male poodle had two front teeth that were loose and moved easily when touched.
Veterinary care repeatedly cited in 2022
Kruse was also cited for several violations in 2022.
During a March 2022 inspection, inspectors observed a female golden doodle with an abnormal skin condition that resulted in large hairless areas “along both sides of the dog from the shoulders to the hind legs, as well as across the top of the shoulders and on the top and sides of the neck.” Kruse and his staff had not noticed the dog’s condition or provided any treatment, inspectors alleged.
At the time, Kruse was cited for inadequate veterinary care and for improper handling of the dogs. While there, the inspectors observed an employee clipping the nails of 16 dogs so short they caused extensive bleeding. The inspectors reported: “Each of the affected dogs is actively bleeding and most of them have several bloody toes, and in the case of two Pomskys all four feet are bloody. Significant amounts of blood are located in the washdown beneath the enclosures, on the enclosure floors and fencing, and on the walkway outside of the enclosures. Trimming toenails too short can be extremely painful to the dog.”
During a June 2022 inspection, USDA officials observed a female Pomsky that was lame in both hind legs and appeared to be in pain as she moved around her enclosure. “The dog often held one of the hind feet off the floor as she moved, or would rock her weight back on the heel of the foot with the toes held off the flooring when standing,” inspectors reported. “Closer inspection of the dog revealed a raw, red, open lesion on the pad of one toe on each hind foot … The condition of the dog has not been noticed and no treatment has been provided.”
During that same visit, the inspectors reported that a female Boston terrier appeared to have a “very painful” left hind leg and was holding her foot in the air to keep it from coming into contact with the floor. “While moving around the enclosure, the dog showed signs of severe lameness and often failed to bear weight on the leg,” inspectors reported. “Closer inspection of the leg revealed a raw, red, open lesion on the pad of one toe. The condition of the dog has not been noticed and no treatment has been provided.”
Injuries were noted with four other dogs during the June 2022 visit, and Kruse was cited for providing inadequate veterinary care.
Inspectors returned two months later, in August 2022, as part of a relicensing inspection and again cited Kruse for failing to provide adequate veterinary care. At that time, the inspectors found a female Pomsky unable put weight on her right hind leg due to an open lesion on her foot, and a golden doodle that was lame due to two open lesions on the bottom of one foot.
In December 2022, inspectors returned and cited Kruse for providing inadequate veterinary care, unsanitary feeding devices, and enclosures that had dangerous elements such as exposed sharp edges and wood screws. Inspectors observed one small dog whose legs repeatedly fell through openings in the floor of its enclosure. At least eight dogs had medical conditions requiring attention, including a French bulldog with swollen areas on both front paws, with one of the areas appearing “ready to burst,” inspectors said.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.