In Ohio, the nation’s second worst puppy mill state, The HSUS steps up

By on February 28, 2018 with 14 Comments

The HSUS and partner groups are supporting a ballot initiative in Ohio to improve conditions for tens of thousands of dogs held in commercial breeding facilities in the state. A recent puppy mill rescue in the state highlighted, once again, the great need for such protections.

On January 3, the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office pulled out 23 dogs, most of them beagles, including five puppies, from a mill in Kirby, Ohio. The rescue happened amidst freezing temperatures and a “bomb cyclone” that had blanketed Ohio and other parts of the country. It was already too late for one dog – a necropsy revealed he had starved to death because he had zero percent body fat and no food in his stomach.

The beagles were living in rabbit hutches with wire flooring, and the only thing protecting the dogs’ feet was frozen solid waste that was as thick as two inches in some spots. One lone pit bull on the premises was chained. The dogs’ water bowls were frozen.

It looked like many of the females were pregnant, but a complete health check determined that these animals were too malnourished to produce babies, and their tummies were swollen because of worms. All animals had scars and wounds on their faces, possibly from sparring over their limited food supply, and many suffered from kennel cough. One dog had a limp from a leg break that had never been treated by a vet.

It is difficult for those of us who love animals to imagine such cruelty, but unfortunately this is something that happens each day in thousands of facilities across the country that breed puppies indiscriminately for sale. And Ohio is one of the hotspots for such mistreatment. These dogs have now been moved to the Wyandot County Humane Society, which is taking care of them, returning them to good health, and adopting them out as they recover.

The need for a comprehensive law in Ohio is great, because it is second only to Missouri in the number of federally licensed commercial breeding facilities, and is a major importer of puppy mill dogs from other states for sale in retail stores. Twelve breeders from Ohio with egregious animal welfare violations were listed in The HSUS’s 2017 Horrible Hundred report concerning problem mills in the United States – more than any other state, except Missouri.

But the state’s current law falls way short of protecting animals and is severely in need of an upgrade. It includes standards of care that do not adequately protect dogs and uses a threshold that is difficult for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, charged with enforcing the law, to verify. This allows some breeders to completely escape oversight and regulations.

The amendment we are backing would ensure that breeding facilities like this one, that have more than eight breeding female dogs, be subject to greater oversight. The measure also includes other common-sense standards for breeding dogs. It would require basic, humane standards, like consistent access to water, access to nutritious food at least twice a day, protections from extreme temperatures, and regular veterinary care and socialization.

The dogs would also have unfettered daytime access to outdoor exercise areas and all enclosures would have solid flooring, would be cleaned at least once per day, and would not be stacked on top of each other.

Finally, the measure would exempt hobby breeders (those with fewer than eight breeding females), allowing the state to focus its resources on the larger and most problematic breeding operations. It would protect Ohio families who unknowingly support cruel puppy mills and end up with sick puppies, because commercial breeders, regardless of where they are located, would have to adhere to these humane standards when they sell dogs to Ohio consumers.

The Stop Puppy Mills Ohio campaign is a grassroots effort to improve conditions for tens of thousands of dogs trapped in puppy mills. An army of more than 3,000 volunteers has been working to collect 500,000 signatures to get the amendment on the November ballot this year. We also have nearly 370 endorsements for the campaign, with Ohio dog rescues and shelters, local businesses, veterinarians, public figures, and national animal welfare organizations all joining in to fight the scourge of puppy mills.

The dogs rescued from the puppy mill in Kirby now have a chance to regain their health and find forever homes where they will be loved and cherished for the rest of their lives. Many of the dogs have already been adopted. Our puppy mills policy coordinator, Meredith Blanchard, visited the dogs at the rescue in Ohio recently and reported that the dogs she met are looking healthier already, with some jumping up for attention.

But thousands of animals still suffering in puppy mills in Ohio need our help. If you live in Ohio, please sign up to gather signatures to put the Ohio Puppy Mill Prevention Amendment on the ballot this November. You can also follow the campaign on their Facebook page. Those who are not residents of Ohio but would like to contribute to the effort can still help by donating to this cause.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Brian O'Neill says:

    How are the prosecutions of these animal abusers going? I want to hear about the prison sentences for those who abuse animals. Please keep us all apprised of the success of law enforcement against these detestable criminals.

    • Lorene Bryant says:

      They don’t get prosecuted- just like all the abusers in all the states.There is no punishment for the most vial people in the world

  2. Erin Volkman says:


  3. Frances Leard says:

    This is another outrageous problem because the inept unjust judicial system won’t put these sick cowards behind bars. Until these monsters are put away for a long time, the horrible abuse against our animals will continue. What will it take to make these courts uphold the law?

  4. Selina harris says:

    Thank you to the humane society for everything you do.

  5. Kelly says:

    One sight of one of these puppy mills should spurr anyone , to sign the petition! These puppy mills are inhumane and i cannot believe anyone can stand to see any animal suffer so much .

  6. Mary says:

    This Continued greed and pervasive abuse of animals has got to stop. We can only do so much as civilians. Legislators have responsibilities to their constituents to enact laws to prevent abuse Of animals and people. Some companies under the guise of research are breeding animals to sent to laboratories where they endure cruel torture. Please write to your legislators. Thank you.

    • K says:

      The issue should be these breeders not paying the taxes in the $$$$ they are making. The records are supposed to show number of litters, we can ask what they sold for each per puppy….$1000 online w see. 25% is the tax. Improve the inspections too. Measley 7 inspectors not enough and they r poor inspections w min reinspections. Local communities support these breeders too…amish stick together as do the community and the breeders.

  7. Debbie Williams says:

    Why don’t you put a petition on every website for everyone to sign to stop this and take it to Missouri and Ohio?

  8. Ellen Wilson says:

    Unfortunately our legislators won’t push for more humane treatment of animals unless their constituents demand it. We need to educate those who are unaware of the conditions in #puppymills, the lack of punishment for those who torture animals, and other animal issues. Find out when your #HSUS #HumaneLobbyDay is and bring a friend or two!

  9. Jodi says:

    The worst offenders are the Amish farmers in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Coshocton counties. Go the the puppy auction house on CR10 outside Chili, Oh. farmer friends in the area describe these puppy breeding facilities as large hog or chicken barns w giant fan blowing a horrendous urine oder 24/7. When my friends deliver hay they say the dogs never bark but only whimper. The conditions are horrific but they’re back in the hills so nobody ever sees what’s going on. It’s a nightmare that these unfortunate creatures are born into and I can pretty well guess whathappens to the dogs when they’ve outlived their usefulness. Sadly to many of these Amish farmers dogs/any animal is just a widget that man in his rightful dominion can exploit.

  10. Norma Hurt says:

    Bless all of you that work for this great origination , please keep fighting for all these wonderful animals. sure wish we could get rid of puppy mills and pet stores deal in rescues instead.

  11. Faith says:

    Its obvious there is enough laws on the books. They are not being used. There is no way when some has hundreds of dogs stacked in cages on top of one another that someone doesn’t know. Local animal control and Humane society’s etc should correct ,,better yet eliminate these places. Anyone knows that those places are inhumane and should not be tolerated. Time is being wasted in offices or boardrooms talking about what we all know. In the meantime the animals suffer unimaginable pain and neglect. Use the laws in place already,,increase penalties and follow up and all offenders. It doesn’t matter that some of the guidelines are weak these mills are beyond anything a civilized society should accept for a minute. Excuses are not getting the job done and these animals a decent life.

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