GREENPORT — A Columbia County dog breeder whose kennel was cited as one of the worst puppy mills in the state said Tuesdays he is working to fix some of the violations.
Hudson Labradoodles, 329 Church Road, Greenport, was among seven kennels listed in New York on the Humane Society of the United States' “The Horrible Hundred 2019” puppy mills and puppy sellers in the country. Hudson Labradoodles is owned and operated by Curtis Rist.
The sampling of problem puppy mills and puppy sellers across the U.S. has been published annually by the Humane Society of the United States for the last seven years to “warn consumers about common problems at puppy mills, and urge government oversight.”
Kennels like Rist’s must be registered with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which regularly conducts on-site inspections at registered kennels.
Rist has been cited several times in the past two years, according to the inspection reports.
Prior issues included dodging inspectors, according to the Horrible Hundred report.
"On Jan. 13, 2019, a state inspector arrived to conduct an inspection and gave the owner, Curtis Rist, a 'non-compliance critical' violation for refusing the inspection: 'Mr. Rist was present and denied entrance to do an inspection,'" according to the report. "Mr. Rist spoke with Ms. Colon and understood the consequences of not allowing an inspection.'"
Although the dogs appeared healthy during site visits, the kennels were unsanitary and Rist failed to show up for several inspections, earning him a “non-compliant critical” violation.
“In March 2019, the facility was found to have poor ventilation, excessive feces, dirty conditions and a ‘toxic smell,’" according to the Humane Society report. “These issues were repeated problems that had also been noted earlier in 2019 and in 2018, as well.”
Rist said he is working with state Agriculture and Markets to bring the kennel up to speed.
Rist houses 24 Australian Labradoodles in large kennels. Australian Labradoodles are a mix between a Labrador retriever, a poodle and a cocker spaniel while non-Australian Labradoodles are poodle and Labrador mixes, according to the Australian Labradoodle Association of America.
On Jan. 31, 2019, the inspector noted that some issues had been addressed but that there was a heavy odor of feces and urine inside the kennel run area and that the facility needed better ventilation.
The smell, Rist said, was caused by urine seeping into unsealed concrete. The concrete has since been sealed, he added.
“The kennel was built in 2011,” Rist said. “They had built a good building; did not seal the concrete inside or outside. They said they didn’t need to be sealed.”
Rist, a former journalist, started breeding Australian Labradoodles, which he called great family dogs, about a decade ago after he quit his job. He loved the Australian Labradoodle because he is allergic to dogs, he said, adding the breed is hypoallergenic and his allergies are not affected by them. He was introduced to the breed after a coworker brought his own Labradoodle to work.
Rist who started the business with a partner, today runs it alone.
“On Jan. 18, 2019, an inspector was permitted inside the operation but found a critical violation for two dogs that did not have rabies vaccinations,” according to the report. “The inspector also noted one dog was in need of grooming and there was no veterinary plan or exercise plan available, which is a requirement under the state law.”
The two dogs received their initial rabies vaccination but did not have their booster shots, Rist said. But, since January, the vaccinations for all the dogs are up to date, Rist said.
Rist also has veterinary plans and exercise plans for the dogs, but did not have them on hand the day the inspector arrived, he said.
The inspectors will be back in the coming weeks to reinspect the property, Rist said.
“I appreciate their [Agriculture and Markets] patience, suggestions and guidance to fix the problems they identified,” Rist said.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.