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

For Immediate Release:
August 1, 2023

Brittney Williams 202-483-7382

Tuscola, Ill.

Armed with a damning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing dogs with severely matted hair and with overgrown nails at a puppy mill near Tuscola operated by Raymond Hostetler, PETA rushed a letter to Douglas County State’s Attorney Robert Kosic asking him to investigate the facility—which recently confined over 60 dogs—and file applicable charges against those responsible for the animals’ condition.

According to the just-released report, on June 13 a USDA inspector found five dogs with “numerous” mats down to the skin covering their “bellies, feet, back of the thighs and face around the ears or eyes” and a sixth dog with mats covering his hindquarters. The report notes that such mats pull on the skin and can cause pain, discomfort, and even sores. Five dogs had overgrown nails that reached up to 1.5 inches in length, which “caused their toes to twist to the side, or not lie in a normal position when standing” and put both them and the other dogs housed with them at risk of injury.

“In miserable mills like this one, dogs are treated as nothing but commodities—housed in filthy conditions, denied proper care, and bred until their bodies give out,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Douglas County authorities to prosecute those responsible and urges everyone to adopt and never buy an animal from a breeder or pet store.”

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.

Although Illinois banned the commercial sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores in 2021, many puppy mills continue to operate by selling animals online or out of state. PETA notes that around 70 million companion animals are homeless in the U.S. at any given time and that all breeders contribute to the overpopulation crisis and deny animals in shelters a chance at finding a loving home.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Kosic follows.

August 1, 2023

The Honorable Robert Kosic

Douglas County State’s Attorney

Dear Mr. Kosic:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office (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 Raymond Hostetler at 425 E. County Rd. 675 N. near Tuscola. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in canine health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 60 animals there.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector documented neglect at the facility in the attached report, which was just made public. On June 13, she found that five dogs had “numerous” mats “down to the skin” near their eyes and ears and on their abdomens, legs, and feet. A sixth dog had mats on his hindquarters. The inspector noted that such matting “can cause unnecessary pain.”

The same day, the inspector found that two of those dogs—and three others—had overgrown nails that were up to 1.5 inches long. The nails caused the dogs’ “toes to twist to the side or not lie in a normal position when [the dogs were] standing on a flat surface.”

These findings may violate the state’s cruelty-to-animals statute, 510 ILCS § 70/3.01, and/or 510 ILCS § 70/3, which requires individuals to provide animals in their care with “veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering” and “humane care and treatment.” The USDA renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, and these reports carry no criminal or civil penalties and don’t preempt criminal liability under state law for neglecting animals. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see the contact information for its office in Riverdale, Maryland, here.

Thank you for your time and consideration and for the difficult work that you do every day. Please let us know if we can assist you.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department


Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.