Shame On You Gorham, New York!

I read the article in the Canandaigua Messenger A with disbelief. It appears that the town of Gorham, New York is rolling out the red carpet for a large-scale puppy mill expected to house 500 breeding dogs (yes, you read this correctly, there will be 500). The proprietors, Curtis and Jolene Martin are not new to puppy milling. In fact, they have been previously cited for their work- busted by the USDA for violations such as rodent droppings in whelping boxes, sick and injured dogs on the premises, and inadequate staffing.

Mr. Martin maintains that he is not into mass breeding just for the money. He states:

We don’t just produce as many puppies as we can, that’s not our goal. Yes, we do have to do that but it’s not the main reason we’re in it. We’re in it for the animals.

Have a look at the minutes from the December 19, 2012 Town of Gorham Planning Board Meeting. Be forewarned, reading these minutes made me feel sick inside. There was plenty of discussion

Photo Credit: Diana Gerba

about numbers of dogs (not to worry, puppies don’t take up much room), noise prevention (not to worry, the dogs will be housed completely indoors with plenty of sound-proofing), and composting and burying of dead dogs (not to worry, there will be enough containment so as to prevent water contamination in the neighborhood). Never once during the lengthy discussion did a single board member question how the dogs would be exercised, how they would be fed, what size cages would be provided, or how the emotional needs of the dogs would be met. Was there not a single dog lover in that boardroom?

I’m not naïve enough to believe that what’s happening in Gorham, New York isn’t happening in many other towns throughout the United States. Perhaps this situation strikes a particularly sensitive nerve because it is happening in the state where I attended veterinary school and received an extraordinary education. On the one hand New York trains veterinarians to care adeptly and compassionately for dogs. With the other hand they welcome the abuse of dogs. I suspect that the Gorham town board members have their eyes focused on the prize. Can you imagine the tax revenue stream from the sale of thousands and thousands of purebred puppies?

What can you do to help stop such madness? If you happen to live in the vicinity of Gorham, New York please contact city and county officials there to find out what would be needed to change their minds about welcoming the Martins or any other puppy millers into your community.

If you don’t live in or near Gorham, but feel fired up about what is going on there please put that energy to good use. Puppy mills exist throughout the United States. Learn more about what is happening in your neck of the woods and begin a letter writing campaign, organize a peaceful protest, educate a classroom of children about puppy mills, counsel a friend or relative who is ready to purchase a purebred pup on how to find a reputable breeder or rescue organization. Never ever purchase a pup from a pet store or online site and sight unseen. Feel free to share this blog post. Every little bit helps. One less purchase from a puppy mill brings us one step closer to their eradication.

How do you feel after reading the minutes from Town of Gorham Planning Board Meeting?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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32 Comments on “Shame On You Gorham, New York!

  1. Website to Gorham NY is unavailable. Must have crashed! Or they’re trying to hide.
    I will also mention that the way the Planning Board works in my county is that, unless it’s blatantly illegal, they kick everything up to the county commission for approval/disapproval.

  2. Gorham officials are pathetic, ruthless, heartless and relentlessly evil. Maybe you should try a little harder. Try creating more jobs by creating somewhere these dogs can be raised and taken care of. something where the community and youth can volunteer and get together and make a difference.

  3. Thank You Dr. Kay and thank You Vivian for the petition website. We all need to sign this and write letters and postcards to the politician’s in Gorham. Big money has to be involved in this decision. What a SHAME is right.

  4. This situation cannot be allowed to progress. No more puppy mills. Is the town so greedy, they would let more dogs be brutalized and mistreated. When I read this or see images of the poor animals going through all this misery, my first thought is put the humans in cages that are too small and filthy. Let them be mistreated and have baby after baby. Couldn’t we pass a low that permits it?
    Shame on Gorham is not stated strongly enough, shame on all concerned. This should not be allowed to continue.

  5. Just what we need is another puppy mill that only has the best interests of the animals in mind. What a joke…..If that is what they really thought they would never have a puppy mill they would help get all the homeless animals out of the shelters and rescue groups.

  6. I won’t be spending any money in Gorham, New York. I wonder how much the politician’s are getting?

  7. What happened at the January 23rd meeting? I found it interesting that they publsihed the address wrong so very few people came to this first public hearing.
    Hopefully the regional office of the HSUS has been notified so that they can attend the next hearing.
    At least one person seemed to be on the ball – Ms. Brewer. She wanted the exact number of dogs including dead dogs (what is up with the dead dogs?) and sort of micked the guy for not knowing. If he has run a business for 8 years he sure should know.

  8. This is horrible. We need state and federal level laws to govern the breeding of companion animals so that humane treatment can be ensured, and violators prosecuted.

  9. It is time the public was made aware the USDA treats puppy mills as “crops” and actually SUBSIDIZES some of these “farmers”, who are in it strictly for the MONEY. They certainly don’t care about the animal welfare, and using dead dog bodies for COMPOST is a health hazard and disgusting! When are we going to STOP this, by Federal Law. Puppies are not PRODUCTS, and should not be MASS PRODUCED, like a rows of crops planted int the ground. Dogs have FEELINGS, and these owners of Puppy Mills have not conscience, ethics or concern for the animals welfare. They are the Animals!

  10. We need to be able to organize petitions and letter writing to this board.
    Perhaps get breed clubs on board, anyone who cares..Call for sanctions, economic and otherwise. Yes, This cause needs to be mobilized.
    Credo. org will allow the starting of petitions and delivery, I believe.

  11. 425 square feet for 500 breeding dogs (this doesn’t include the ‘puppies that don’t take up much space’).
    i just want to cry :-(


  13. EVERYONE—we must educate all of our friends, relatives, business
    associates of the horrors of puppy mills. I encourage everyone to read
    the book, “Saving Gracie,” by Carol Bradley. A true story of rescuing Gracie, a Cavalier brood bitch from Mike-Mar Kennels a disgusting, filthy
    puppy mill in Chester County, PA. The vivid ugliness of these deplorable puppy mill conditions and cruel treatment of these puppy mill dogs will open your eyes to this cruel, inhumane treatment of these poor dogs takes place in puppy mills across our country. WE NEED to educate everyone about these cruel practices to stop people from buying any puppy or dog off the internet or from pet stores as they are usually puppy mill dogs from these deplorable, retched puppy mills that all should be shut down. Do write your legislators, help get your local pet shops who sell puppies shut down get the word out to help shut down these puppy mills. This is a true story how the Chester County, PA SPCA finally convicted Michael Wolf (a former professional show handler) and his cohorts with over 330 dogs and shut them down. It does explain with graphic detail of how badly treated these purebred dogs and puppies are confined in filthy cages, very sick and almost dying (many die young from all the disease) for the duration of their lives(with a good ending). The more people we inform the more we can get done to help put a stop to this. I will contact the Gorham, NY town board members and suggest they all read this book. Hopefully, if we all take a stand, we can help prevent this puppy mill and mistreatment of thesepoor dogs from ever happening.

  14. What were the city commissioners, board , whoever was in charge thinking— well they weren’t thinking— or were they thinking, money kick back. . SHAME
    Was this done behind close doors and without media coverage or townspeople input??????

  15. Going on Net to find Gorham’s e-contact and give them a hint of why they should not want this ‘industry’ in their town.

  16. No matter who this board is or what this board decides, this is one more blatant example why no-one should support puppy mills or backyard breeders. Dog buyers should do their homework. People should be informed and see where their dog is coming from, and for heaven’s sake, consider a shelter/rescue dog first! There are “purebreds” there too.

  17. I have always thought of New York as a progressive state. So I am surprised, for all the reasons Dr. Nancy discusses, that the proposal is being entertained. Also surprising was the vague manner in which Mr. Martin responded to questions: “it depends” figured in his replies a couple of times. He did not offer any hard and fast figures about the business. And the Board mostly accepted that. Even the number of jobs associated with the plan was vague so you had to wonder how much the community even stands to benefit economically.

    Who is this veterinarian that condones and compliments the Martins’ operation? And perhaps the biggest surprise, again, echoing Dr. Nancy, is that no one thought to ask about the welfare of the dogs. I guess we aren’t getting the word out there about puppy mills so that the average citizen understands just how horrific and under regulated such places are. If the Martins are “in it for the animals,” it would be interesting to hear from them just how they see their operation benefiting animals.

  18. Why would you al;low Puppy Mills there?
    Shame on you

  19. Mary Ann, that’s BS and you know it. If you’re elected, you have a responsibility to know what’s going on. Yes, the State is at fault for not having any or good laws in place to protect the animals. However, in each town there are elected officials that are there to do the job. Not once did anyone care enough to ask how often or until what age a female would be bred. Not once did anyone ask if they would comply with state regulation for rabies vaccines.

    Since you obviously seem to know about these officials, if you care, then I would suggest you get going and help educate these jerks. And yes, I’m a native New Yorker. If I were in your position, I’d be working day and night to make sure this facility never sees the light of day. And if it does, you can bet I would be organizing for weekly inspections of every dog in that facility.

  20. “Shame on New York” is a little broad, espcially considering the public outcry against this puppy mill. Even the Town Supervisor has been influenced to see the error of his ways and has now proposed a moratorium on such facilities. While the fight isn’t over yet, a battle has been won. That supervisor admits “bowing to public outcry” suggesting that New Yorkers have objected strongly and effectively. No shame on NY or New Yorkers except as NY regulations and enforcement are largely toothless. Both NYS (Agriculture and Markets Dept.) and USDA have had staff cut to bare bone levels. I live 40 miles from this town, am heavily involved in breed-specific rescue both locally and nationally and have been very, very concerned about this mill since it was proposed in December.

  21. I think this is the same “company” that tried to open a puppymill south of Gorham near Penn Yan about a year ago. (I’m going to check on that.) They were defeated in that area. Just imagine where they are going to get their “breeding stock” – from dog auctions – terrible places. I will mobilize my friends and family in that area to do everything they can to get this stopped.

    M. Heisel, Northern VA Sheltie Rescue

  22. Hummm, did these people move out of Missouri to get away from our Puppy Mill Bill?

  23. There is absolutely no excuse for this. I wonder if they were kicked out somewhere else and had to move to Gorham (or anywhere ewlse) after they did the research for a location where the officials are either indifferent to the suffering they allowed into their commuity or just too stupid to understand what they have wrought. Ignorance is no excuse. When the matter came up, it behooved them to do some studies and research before they invited or even agreed to this.
    Shame on Gorham! Shame on the State of New York! Shame on people sho buy from per shops and on line!
    Emotional on my part? You bet! First, we are emotional beings, and second, what is more emotion-laden than the desire for the welfare of animals?
    When will they learn?

  24. Aside from wanting to throw up weeks ago when I first read of this…as some of the above letters indicated: first, since there are NO LAWS prohibiting puppy mills, the Board may not legally have been able to refuse a permit for a legal business, as long as all permits and legal requirements are met :-( Not that I would have ever voted for a puppy mill if I were on a Board, but being an animal lover is not a requirement.
    We need to educate, but we also have to stop wringing our hands and throwing up, and STAND UP and WORK to pass the laws we need, and as soon as possible, which will still take too long, but must be done, and NOT left to others.
    In California, we have been working for years to pass a mandatory spay/neuter law. The law was filled with every bona fide loophole imaginable; but the puppy millers and backyard breeders put their money up, and bought politicians, and lots of misleading advertising. The law was not passed; but we are still working and fighting for it.
    The other question that was not asked while visions of tax dollars danced in the Board’s eyes, was :who pays when the majority of these dogs are dumped at the pound? Who pays to feed them and kill them? Who pays for the puppies when they get sick? The answer is the taxpayers pay; but it will be spread out all over the country, not just in Gorham :-(
    And unfortunately, the USDA has oversight, not any Board.
    And there are NO LAWS preventing businesses who have been sited from starting up again; no laws preventing animal abusers from adopting dogs or moving next door to you. We need to work for these laws.

  25. Sorry, but ignorance is no excuse for bad voting behavior on the part of our elected officials. Before these two folks voted, they owed it to the people who elected them to educate themselves on the issues or at least out of respect for their constituency, they should have confessed their ignorance of the issue and abstained from voting. If elected officials who grant such permits that end up imposing unnecessary rescue costs on their communities/local shelters are not responsible, then who is? it is time for people who run for public office to either do their homework or refrain from running for office.

    The reputable pure-breed breeder (in contrast to the volume breeder) has in her sales contract that the parents of her puppies are health certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (e.g., a specialist examines and certifies the health of hips, elbows, heart, eyes, etc. of the mother and father of the puppies) and that those certifications are public for all to see ( In addition, the sales contract for puppies from a responsible puppy breeder makes it clear that the breeder is the rescuer of FIRST resort, not by default the local community.

    I urge the citizens of this community to ask for the contract that is offered by this “breeder” who has just been granted approval by the public officials. I will bet the parents are not OFA health certified and I will also bet that the breeder does not offer to take her pups back and rehome them AT ANY TIME IN THEIR LIVES. If the owners cannot keep the dog for whatever reason (divorce, health, loss of a job), the responsible breeder states in her contract that she will take the dog back and place it in a forever home (not euthanize it, as many volume breeders do — if they take any responsibility at all).

    To the extent that local communities want to manage the number of unwanted dogs that come into rescue in their communities, they will insist that their elected officials perform due diligence before approving permits for these volume breeders (who sell but do not take life-long responsibility for the pups they breed and carelessly place them with buyers, thus increasing the likelihood that they will come into rescue situations).

    All that I can say is shame on these ignorant (or stupid or political) local officials for placing the burden of rescuing these dogs on the local community instead of preventing an obvious problem in the making.

    Sadly, the citizens of this community deserve better from their elected officials.

  26. Dr. Nancy, I think the remarks about the town board are unfair. At least two were just elected and had no idea this application was in process. They were blindsided by the decision. They have now voided the approval and are considering a moratorium on these kennels in the town.

    Lets put the blame on New York State which has NO LAWS about commercial wholesale kennels. Its law and enforcement on kennels and pet stores selling to the public are a joke.

    That is where the problem comes from. States with effective laws do not have surprises for their local officials.

  27. I suggest that you are, um, barking up the wrong tree. Planning boards are granted certain powers, and ensuring animal welfare is not one of them. I get your outrage, but going after the planning board is not constructive. Planning board members are volunteers who work for the betterment of their community, but there is only so much they can do legally.

  28. Gorham is a Finger Lakes town, and as such, dependent on tourist dollars.

    Let the town’s politicians know that you will not be visiting Gorham or spending any money there when you take a vacation in the Finger Lakes, as so many northeasterners do.