top of page

Dog Auctions and Protests!!

Dog auctions are probably one of the toughest things we've ever experienced, both as animal lovers and as professionals in the field of Humane Welfare.  These events broke our hearts and were the biggest motivation to work together to ensure legislation was passed and restrictions were put in place to end this misery.  We are so very proud of everyone who helped us to protest.  We made a difference!!  We are incredibly happy to say that the Thorp dog auction was discontinued and at this time there are not other dog auctions in Wisconsin.  

We feel it is important to share the history of these events and was has been accomplished.  We don't ever want to forget how far we've come, and we must always remember the things we've learned from the past.  

The most recent dog auction was held on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009, in Thorp.  We were there to protest!  The weather was extremely cold, with an incredible wind chill that reached 30 below zero.  About thirty hardy souls joined us to continue our message that puppy mills and dog auctions are just wrong!  We most certainly appreciate the efforts of everyone who participated in our protest, and we hope that they've all thawed out by now!   We were very pleased to have Channel 18, WQOW, cover the event.  We were also very excited to have Representative Jeff Smith at the protest.  Rep. Smith addressed the group of protestors and rescuers prior to the auction, sharing information about possible legislation that he is working on and hopes to introduce soon. 

There were  236 dogs sold at the dog auction.  There were many buyers at the auction, including other puppy millers  and breeders.  In addition, a number of rescue groups attended the auction with the purpose of saving as many dogs as they could.  While the policy of CCHS is that we do not purchase dogs at the auction, we are willing to help any dogs that need assistance after the auction.  As a result, we received 24 dogs that had been purchased by rescue groups or individuals at the auction.  The rescues know that we will do everything possible to help the dogs, both medically and socially, and so gave the dogs to us to care for and rehome.  We are delighted that we are able to assist in this manner.

We now have lots of dogs at the Shelter!  Our new rescue room, built specifically for this type of situation, is full!!  The 24 dogs that we received are all doing well.  They have all been vet-checked and bloodwork has been sent to the lab to test for brucellosis.  We should have all results back shortly.  We started to spay/neuter the dogs on Tuesday.  We are thrilled that several of the dogs have made wonderful progress and will be available for adoption shortly.  Sadly, other dogs in the group are not quite as social and have more issues.  As expected with puppy mill survivors, they simply aren't used to the human touch and are pretty scared.  They need to learn that people won't always hurt them and that they can be their friends.

We would like to invite everyone to come to the Shelter to meet our rescue dogs and spend time with them.  Socialization is critical to their progress, and we love having people hold the dogs, talk to them, and walk them outside.  Each day they are getting a little bit better, but it takes lots of time and patience.  In addition, we are placing the dogs most in need into foster homes.  They simply require more intense attention than we can provide at the Shelter.  If you're interested in providing foster care, please let us know.  You can submit a foster care application through the foster care tab on the left side menu of this website.

We are also in need of donations and supplies to help care for all of the dogs.  We especially need paper towels, soft doggie treats, bleach and pinesol.  Monetary donations are also most welcome as we are incurring expenses for medical care beyond our normal budget. 

Please come and see our rescue dogs at the Shelter!  They are sure to touch your heart, and we know that we can help them to have a happy future!



Rep Jeff Smith addresses protestors and rescuers prior to the auction.

CCHS Executive Director Chuck Wegner is interviewed by Jamie Paige, anchor for WQOW, Eau Claire.

One of the rescue groups visits CCHS after the auction, bringing several dogs to stay at CCHS.

Two Cocker Spaniels rest together after bring rescued from the auction.

The Dog Auction Protest on Saturday, September 22, 2007, was a huge success!!  We had over 100 people in attendance!!  We would like to thank everyone that helped with this event.  We are so pleased that we had such a great showing of support. We really feel that we were able to make a public statement that dog auctions and puppy mills are just wrong.  We had people in attendance from all over Wisconsin and Minnesota, and from as far away as North Dakota!  We also had fantastic coverage from the media, including 5 TV stations.  If we did not get a chance to thank you personally for being there on Saturday, please know that we are grateful and we truly appreciate your help.  A protest such as this does not happen without each and every person there.  An individual may have a hard time making a difference, but as a group, we know that we can!!  As Chuck Wegner, CCHS Executive Director recently stated, “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand silent”.  We are proud of everyone that stood with us and did not remain silent!


As is being reported on several TV stations, there was a violent episode at the protest.  Lindsey, a young girl who was helping with this protest, was accosted by two members of the general audience after taking a picture.  According to Lindsey, she was pushed to the ground and hit with a cane.  We also learned that there were two other members of our group attacked by the same individuals.  After extensive conversations with the police officers on duty at the protest, we learned that charges could have been brought against the attackers, but charges would also have been brought against us.  As the officer told us, “Because we were there to protest, take pictures, and interrupt the auction, we were actually the instigators of the attack.”  In the best interest of those involved, no further action was pursued.


We are sorry that this incident marred what was otherwise a peaceful protest.  We are happy that Lindsey is OK.  We respect the law and we understand what the officers were telling us.  We are, however, saddened that the women from the “other side” were able to hurt our members with no consequences.


Thank you for taking a stand on this very important issue. Because of you the future for the poor dogs stuck in the milling system may be just a bit brighter today.


Please watch the videos below!  They show the dogs that were sold at the Thorp dog auction prior to the sale starting.  There are two parts to the video, so be sure to watch both.  Just click on the start button in the center of each.

A Few Random Thoughts About the Infamous Thorp dog auction

by Chuck Wegner, Executive Director, Clark County Humane Society

First of all, you will no doubt notice that the words dog auction in the heading of this article are not capitalized as words in a title normally would be. That is by design, not oversight. The reason is that capitalization is used to lend significance or importance to a word and the Thorp dog auction is of absolutely no importance or worth to humane-minded people.

I would like to make it clear that anything written here is my own opinion.

Now, down to the real stuff. I attended my fourth Thorp dog auction held at Horst Stable on Sat, Sept. 22, 2007. It was a typical dog auction, not differing much from the first three they held during the past year. This time there were 250 dogs originally billed for sale and once again they had an addendum sheet for dogs that came in later. All-in-all there were a total of 270 dogs up for sale to the highest bidder. We can only estimate, but I believe that there were around 400 people in attendance.


Among the crowd you could find people from breed rescue. These are people who are dedicated to a particular breed of dog. They are usually there to bid on and rescue as many of their particular breed as they can afford to. You will also find people from Humane Societies who are very similar to breed rescue but instead of focusing in on one breed they may intend to rescue any breed from a miserable future. Another segment of people attending will be the public in general. They may be looking for a pet for themselves or the family and figured that the large numbers of “purebred” dogs would make the prices cheap on what would normally be expensive breeds. The majority of the people in attendance seemed to be puppy millers who are looking for new breeding stock. They may also be selling some or their dogs at the auction so they are increasing the “gene pool” at their mill.


Whatever the reason for being there, the end result is that a lot of dogs get bought and sold. The humane-minded people who are first-time attendees almost always say the same thing when asked what their thoughts are about what they saw… “I can’t believe it!”, “I am going to have nightmares about dogs and the way they are treated”. “The faces of the dogs and puppies are burned into my memory”, “All I could do was cry for them”, and on and on.


So many people say they can’t go there again. I feel like that a lot of the time, but you know what, I will go back every time. I have to, for the dog’s sake. There need to be witnesses to this event. We can not ignore it or avoid it. It goes on whether we are there or not. Human beings tend to be comfort-seekers. We like to eliminate from our lives the things that are uncomfortable, hard or painful for us. What we need to remember is that if each and every one of us doesn’t stand up and bear witness to the bad things in life, they will not only exist, they will grow until there is no stopping them. Instead of avoiding these events, which are difficult to view, we must be united against them. We have to go in with open eyes and be a witness and then tell what we see and what is happening there. The poor dogs suffering every day for profit and greed must be our motivation. We do it for them. If you’ve ever had a pet, you owe it to that animal. They can not help themselves so we have to help them.


There is no question that legislation is the key to regulating puppy mills and banning dog auctions. The mills and auctions claim that it’s not illegal for them to operate the way they do. I say, “It should be!”  Remember hearing “Just because it’s not illegal, doesn’t mean it’s right”? Well that’s true. We don’t have to look in law books or statutes to know that the way dogs are raised in puppy mills is just wrong. Anyone with compassion can see that. Maybe humane-minded people just have a little more compassion than your average person. I think that compassionate people are born that way. There is something extra in them that makes them empathetic. We can’t ignore someone or something in need of help and the dogs in mills need our help, all of us.


It is not up to the Humane Societies or breed rescue. They can not change things alone. It falls onto each and every one of us to fix this horrible treatment of man’s best friend. There is no excuse for sacrificing proper care for profit.


Please contact your state senator or representative as soon as possible.  (Please go to this site,, if you don't know who your legislator is.  It will walk you through the steps to get their contact information.)  I know that many organizations will provide you with a form letter that you can send, but your letter to them is better off being original and in your own words. Think about the issues, study the sites: or Read all you can about this issue and then write the legislators. You can’t go wrong if you speak from the heart.

Please do this for the animals who suffer every day in the name of greed.

If you'd like to see exactly what a dog auction is all about, please watch our auction videos.  Please note there are two parts.  They will show you what goes on at a dog auction.  Just click on the button in the center of each to view the video.

A Letter About the Dog Auction...

Hi all dog lovers,


Here is my input on the puppy mill auction in Thorp, Wisconsin.  I attended as a protester and was very proud to do so. Despite telling myself over and over that I would absolutely, positively not come home with any dogs, I did come home with two dogs.  Their conditions and story will be at the end of this e-mail.  I can't remember when I have had such an emotionally draining day as yesterday.  Even now as I am typing this, I still can't quite comprehend the fact that there were over 200 dogs there and not one wagging tail. This pretty much sums it up doesn't it??? What I witnessed was a group of 250 dogs who were depressed and broken spirited.  They were all without water, with several either standing or laying in their own feces. How I wish i could have gotten those pictures. I did manage only one before I was stopped by one of the God-fearing Mennonite or Amish men.  Several also were totally covered in wood chips and even in their little eyes. I took one puppy out and tried to clean her off the best I could. It broke my heart to put her back in her metal prison which was shared by 8 others.  The most depressing of all though were the two adult cockers who were so broken that they wouldn't even come to the front of their cage for a kind pat.  Why should they though. They have never known human kindness and to them we are one of them.  Two other things stand out:  The first being the dogs inability to even stand on the table. The girl always tried to prop them up but the majority had to be held as I am sure it was too embarrassing to them that the dogs were so weak and couldn't sustain their own weight. And those precious little ones would cringe every time that damn gavel came down.  Very sad also to see the Rottweilers, Boxers and Mountain Dogs carried to the tables. Oh so tragic isn't it.  I personally don't know what it will take to try to permanently ban these acutions but for the life of me I can't understand why the Amish and Menonite people can get away with this criminal activity much longer. And yes, it is CRIMINAL.  If our state allows this to continue, it will be a black eye on our state forever.  Action needs to be taken YESTERDAY!!!!  Our state is so progressive in so many ways but way behind other states in how they react to these despicable puppy mills.

My two precious ones aren't without problems but are probably young enough to be able to handle socialization.  Both came with choking collars on and my this I mean that they were so tight on their necks that they almost had to be cut off. The little cock-a-poo came with a metal chain collar. Can you even imagine that??? The Mountain Dog has a bad eye and will most likely require surgery. She is in pain with it and doesn't even want to open it at times. She will be at the vet in the morning.  Neither dog will eat out of a dog bowl. They are afraid of them. So for two days I have had to put their food on the floor. Hopefully this will change in time with patience and understanding that the bowl won't hurt them.  To see both of them run in the grass yesterday for the first time in their lives was worth every penny I spent.  So this is pretty much what I want to share at this time. The words despicable and abhorrent don't begin to cover what I saw. I hope to never have to attend again.

Thanks for listening and hopefully our state can get something done even if it means the re-call of legislators who don't comply with what we want. We can be a huge voice for those who can't speak. 

Caryn Quella

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

This "Letter to the Editor" appeared in the Marshfield News-Herald on September 29, 2007:

Puppymills irresponsible, inhumane

Editor: Last Saturday I attended the Horst Dog Auction in Thorp. Over 250 dogs and puppies were auctioned off to the highest bidders. These were dogs that local puppy millers bred continually until they slowed production. They no longer earned their owners big money.


Many were stoic, having given up all hope. Others crawled over each other trying to get into the farthest corner of their packed cages. Two of the adult Rottweilers needed to be carried up to the auction table and then cowered, making themselves as small as possible. Many of the normally longer-haired breeds, like Westies, Cocker Spaniels and Bichons were shaved and barely recognizable as their respective breeds.


It's hard to keep them looking nice when they live their lives in their own, and their neighbors' urine and feces. Deformed feet from walking on the wire floor and untrimmed nails is not unusual. Neither is severe dental disease from general ill health being fed cheap, low quality food.


Puppymills sell their products to pet stores and through advertisements in the newspapers usually naming several breeds including the latest trendy mix breeds. These puppies are not bred and raised by people who love the breed and insure their health and well-being. They are shipped in airplanes or trucks like regular cargo with as many in a crate as possible. It's hard to believe, but these people are operating within the law.


Don't buy puppies from pet stores or advertisements listing multiple breeds without seriously researching them. Check out local shelters or reputable breeders who breed responsibly and humanely. Spread the word about puppymills. Many people don't know Tell your legislators you are concerned about the inhumane conditions of these breeding factories and want laws to address these problems.


For more information about puppymills go to or





This Editorial appeared in the Marshfield News-Herald on Wednesday, October 3rd:


Editorial: Puppy mills in Clark Co. sell agony

The cocker spaniel puppy, a tawny ball of fur, cavorted with its litter mates on the floor of the kitchen in a Mennonite family’s farm home in rural Clark County.

It captured the hearts of the three children, who had begged for a dog, their first pet.

The seller offered papers, but not a visit to the barn to see the puppy’s mother.

The family bought the puppy — it was so cute — anyway.

Over the passing months, Chino — inbred and maladjusted — turned violent, barring its teeth and snarling viciously at the slightest provocation, snapping unexpectedly and biting every child and adult in the family. Often, it drew blood.

An animal behaviorist who came to consult with the family said he knew what he’d do if he owned Chino, and it didn’t involve a pat on the head and an “atta boy.”

When Chino bit the youngest boy in the family on the face, the dog had to go away.

Sadly, hundreds of dogs bred by puppy mills along the Highway 29 corridor in Clark County are flawed as family pets by the circumstances of their birth, in small, crowded, feces-ridden cages to unsocialized adults kept solely for their ability to turn out litter after litter, then sold at auction when they’re not productive enough.

By then, they cower, afraid of the human contact they’ve been denied.

Clark County is the epicenter of largely unregulated dog breeding operations in Wisconsin. It is home to 26 of 53 known USDA licensed pet breeding facilities, according to the Clark County Human Society.

That group organized protesters at a recent auction of more than 250 dogs at an auction at Thorp that drew the attention of television stations and newspapers. Yet, at the puppy mills it’s still business as usual.

Animal activists pin their hopes on legislation that would control animal breeding in Wisconsin, requiring inspections of facilities and record-keeping to detect abuses. It has faltered in the Legislature.

Until there’s effective oversight by the state, dogs raised in horrible conditions will continue to be a cash crop in Clark County, sold at dozens of farms that post “puppies for sale” signs out front.

But caring, compassionate people can make a difference.

The information campaign conducted by the Clark County Humane Society helps get the word out to unsuspecting buyers that the dog sale that they’re about to attend isn’t the place to purchase a family pet. And that a purebred dog advertised at a bargain price won’t be the animal you want for your kids.

The family that bought the cocker spaniel puppy was heartbroken when it had to get rid of Chino. It took several years before it was willing to open its home to a dog again.

The family’s new pet is an American Water Spaniel-Labrador mix — a mutt — adopted at a humane society shelter.

If you really want a dog with pure blood lines, get it from a reputable breeder known in the breed-specific community who supplies other buyers’ names and phone numbers. Visit the kennel. See how the dogs are kept.

On the other hand, if you just want a dog that’s a good fit in the family, maybe one that gets along with the cat as well as the kids, stop at a humane society shelter like the one in Neillsville. They’ll match you up.

bottom of page