Last week WCCO aired an investigative report about a Minnesota puppy mill owner who appeared to be shipping dogs to a meat market in New York City’s Chinatown. Through a miscommunication that will likely be cited in journalism classes for years to come, WCCO reporter James Schugel asked a worker at the Chinatown meat market if he sold dog meat. Thinking Schugel was asking about duck meat, the man answered matter-of-factly, “Yeah, we sell dog meat.”
After the New York state agriculture department searched the meat market for dog meat (and found none), the New York Post ran a story that was picked up by dozens of blogs and newspapers across the country, and WCCO’s epic fail was even given the Taiwanese animation treatment. This week, Minneapolis Star Tribune gossip columnist C.J. reported that WCCO staffers are concerned “that heads could roll,” and the SPJ and the AAJA publicly urged the CBS O&O to issue an apology.
All the while WCCO has tried its best to ignore the publicity and criticism, apparently hoping that the story will just go away (the station has scrubbed all details of Schugel’s report from its website, even as commenters ask for an explanation). When reached by phone today, the station’s communications director stuck with a “no comment.” Since WCCO continues to ignore the issue and much of the public outcry has been based on hearsay, TVSpy has decided to run a transcript of the story…
The below transcript is based on video captured by the media monitoring site TVEyes (the original report ran during WCCO’s 10 p.m. newscast on October 31st). It is likely not 100% accurate but it at least gives a detailed account of how WCCO reported its findings.
Anchor Frank Vascellaro: The owner of Minnesota’s largest dog breeding operation sold hundreds of puppies illegally despite being convicted of animal cruelty. That’s what we discovered and when we kept digging things got more disturbing. We went undercover to see the Canine Culture Center for ourselves and found a meat market in the same address. And as the I-Team’s James Schugel learned, a worker there says he only sells dogs to eat.
Schugel: Dogs walking in their own feces and the smell of urine throughout the building. That’s what an investigator with Companion Animal Protection Society found during an undercover visit to this Long Island, New York pet store.
>>[Undercover video of pet store owner] “We’ve been doing business like 40 years. I look for dogs online, they come with veterinary checks.”
Schugel: The pet store’s owner told CAPS president Deb Howard that his pups are privately and family bred.
>>”Where do you get the dogs from?”
>>”Four different breeders and they’re randomly inspected by the state. No puppy mills.”
Schugel: But that’s exactly where the I-Team discovered he’s gotten nearly 600 dogs. Federal and state documents say the supplier is Kathy Bauck, accused of running the largest puppy mill in Minnesota. Bauck was convicted of animal cruelty and torture two years ago. In 2008, an undercover CAPS agent recorded her dunking some dogs in insecticide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it caused the animals trauma, behavioral stress, or discomfort. Bauck pleaded guilty to practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The USDA determined she was unfit to provide humane care for her animals and terminated her license temporarily for two years. But the USDA did not take away the dogs. She kept selling wholesale despite that court order telling her not to.
>>”We were only going in for one, we ended up with two because they were the most pathetic.”
Schugel: Julianne Furl and Keith Moshey [names may be misspelled] bought two pups in that Long Island pet store last spring. One’s face is crooked, both have parasites and show aggression.
>>[Shugel speaking with the couple via Skype] “How much have you spent on vet bills?”
>>”Probably around two grand.”
Schugel: The couple researched the dogs they bought and found they came from Kathy Bauck. One was at the pet store two months, the other five, but it’s not clear when the problems with their pets started.
>>”The dogs there when we bought these two, they looked worse and I had to get out of there. I couldn’t stand looking at them. It was pathetic. It was terrible.”
Schugel: The I-Team found Kathy Bauck’s dogs ended up in pet stores in New York City and Long Island. The I-Team obtained Minnesota certificates of vet inspection that vets signed once they inspected animals that will be shipped to another state. Between August 2010 and August of this year, Bauck shipped and sold nearly 1400 dogs to pet stores in a half dozen New York cities. And she did this without that USDA breeders license that she needed to legally sell and ship wholesale.
>>[Undercover video of a person asking workers at the meat market about the Canine Culture Center] “Do you know anything about it?”
The biggest surprise to the I-Team came while looking for the Culture Center. It’s listed on those veterinary inspection certificates as 36 East Broadway in New York City. We just so happened to stumble upon the Dak Cheong Meat Market at the same address.
>>”I’m looking for the Canine Culture Center at this address. A pet shop. Do you know anything about it?”
State inspection certificates show she sold and shipped nearly 170 dogs, mostly huskies, to this address and that’s where we found the Chinatown meat market.
>>”The Canine Culture Center. Know anything about it?”
We searched both levels of the building…
>>”Canine Culture Center?”
>>”No. No, this is a law office.”
…but found no sign of dogs until we called the market directly.
[Schugel dialing the phone].
>>”Do you sell dogs?”
The man told us, “Yeah, we sell dog.” So we questioned him more: “Dogs for people to eat?” “Uh, yeah,” he said. “We sell many kinds of meat.”
>>”Dogs for people to eat?”
We questioned the man again, just to be clear. He told us he does not sell dogs for pets, he only sells them for food.
>>[Schugel on the phone] “Hi, Kathy? Hi, James Schugel with WCCO…”
The I-Team confronted Kathy Bauck about this but she firmly denied that she shipped dogs to the meat market.
[Bauck's statement] “I never sold a dog for anyone to eat them. Trust me. Never.”
She said the person she shipped to must have given her the wrong address, even though there were a dozen shipments to that address.
Bauck’s veterinarian, Dr. Kathleen Marcussen, also told the I-Team she knew nothing about shipments to a meat market.
Schugel [stand-up]: In a conversation I had with Dr. Marcussen, she said she’s never been to Kathy Bauck’s farm. In fact, she went on to tell me that Kathy Bauck always brought her dogs here [pointing] to the veterinary clinic in Staples [MN] to be examined before they were shipped. In this case, shipped to pet stores in New York City that Kathy Bauck claims she co-owns.
Schugel: Bauck told the I-Team, “I was a ghost owner, it’s like a secret owner. All I did was supply pet stores with puppies. They paid for them on a contract, and that’s it.”
The I-Team pulled the license certificates from the state of New York for all those pet stores but found none as listed in Kathy Bauck’s name. The state also has no listing for the Canine Culture Center. So that begs the question: if she didn’t own the stores and wasn’t allowed to sell wholesale to pet stores because her license was temporarily terminated, how was she able to get away with it for a year? We posed that question to the USDA. A spokesperson told us, “Those things don’t happen lickity split. These are legal things set in motion that are not going to be instantly remedied.”
Coupled with Bauck’s cruelty convictions and other violations at her facility, the USDA revoked her license last month. It’s permanently taken away. The USDA says Bauck obscured who truly owned her business and ran it under various fictitious names and shipped to those pet stores without a license. The USDA fined her and demanded she sell and/or donate her animals.
Bauck recently told the I-Team workers tore down her barns. She says she is done breeding and selling dogs. “I gave them what they wanted, I gave them my life.” She emotionally said by phone. “You just have no idea, none whatsoever, how much I love these dogs.”
Bauck told us she couldn’t even hurt a fly and for her dogs to be gone she said, it is just not right.
The last time we talked with Kathy Bauck, she changed her story. She said she was partnered with a Long Island pet store owner who wanted her to send puppies to the address where we found the meat market, just to pick up. But when James talked with that owner today, he said he hasn’t done business with Kathy Bauck in more than a year. If you have a tip for the I-Team, contact us at 1-800-444-WCCO.