Hundreds of dog breeders uncovered in new puppy mill law

7-Knox

6-Richland

2 – Fulton, Darke

1 – Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Licking, Preble

DEEP COVERAGE

This journal has analyzed documents received through Open Records Law requests to bring you in-depth insight into the high-volume dog breeders and retailers doing business in our state.

DEEP COVERAGE

This journal has analyzed documents received through open records law requests to bring you in-depth insight into the high-volume dog breeders and retailers doing business in our state.

A new law meant to give the state teeth to punish unsafe puppy mills has found more than 250 high-volume dog breeders and retailers have been operating, likely for years, in the state, including some in the south -western Ohio.

Prior to this year, Ohio’s agricultural dog breeding market was largely unregulated.

But a state law signed by Gov. John Kasich in 2012 required dog breeders who sell nine or more litters each year to register with the state by Jan. 1 and obtain safety and security inspections. kennel health every year. Dog retailers, those who sell dogs to pet stores, are required to register with the state now, but are only inspected if someone complains about their operation.

The new laws will help the state weed out puppy mills from good, high-volume dog breeders, said Linda Tucker, a regular volunteer with the PAWS Adoption Center in Middletown, a pet shelter. She said dogs raised in puppy mills are often the result of inbreeding, are not socialized with pets or people, and carry disease.

“We’re not claiming this is going to change everything or fix everything,” Tucker said. “But, especially since there is money involved, allowing the (State inspectors) to come out and see that there is application of the code, it is a real plus for us. .”

Prior to the program, Taylor had been one of many critics of Ohio’s lax puppy mill laws. Now she’s just happy to see regulations in place.

Ohio Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) called the state one of the “worst” in the country for puppy mills when the legislation, which he proposed, passed the Senate in 2012.

Dairy, beef and puppy farms

The new law produced a group of dog breeders and retailers working in rural northeast Ohio who registered with the state.

According to state records, a large majority of currently registered puppy mills come from Holmes County, which identifies itself as the Mecca of Ohio’s Amish County. Nearly 90 dog retailers and 60 dog breeders were enrolled in the new program.

“This area is a very deeply rooted region in Ohio state agriculture,” Simmerman said. “I think it’s a natural progression that we have a lot of dairy farms, beef farms and now a lot of kennels.”

Only two dog breeders, including a dog retailer that sells to stores, have registered in Butler, Clark, Darke, Greene, Preble, Montgomery or Warren counties, according to state records. The state is also still processing licenses for the remaining 55 applicants, but none of the pending applications appear to be working in any of those counties, a spokeswoman said. So far, high-volume dog breeders and retailers have only been identified in 13 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Donald Landes, owner of a high-volume dog operation in the village of Eldorado, Preble County, said he believes state law and new requirements such as animal inspections state would help Ohio dog breeders take good care of the animals.

“I think so, it’s a lot more expensive than what we’re used to, we haven’t been used to an inspection,” Landes said. “But I honestly think it’s a good thing. In the long run it will help (the industry) do a better job.

Landes said he has been selling small dog breeds from his farm since 2005. He uses word of mouth and places ads in local newspapers to sell his dogs. He said he never sold his puppies to a pet store.

“We don’t see ourselves as a puppy mill,” Landes said. “We thought it would be fun and decided to give it a try. We feel like a dog breeder trying to make a lot of people happy. Every person we sell to, we know exactly who they are and work directly with them if they have any problems”

Another operation in the village of Arcanum in Darke County is registered as a high-volume dog breeder and retailer.

Tucker agrees that some high-volume dog breeders do well at producing healthy puppies.

“We understand that there are many different types of breeders out there,” Tucker said. “There are wonderful people out there doing a great job breeding dogs. When you walk into a pet store, unfortunately, most of the time you are dealing with animals that come from a factory, a puppy mill.

Under the new law, dog breeders who violate the new standards face a $100 fine. Some animal advocates called the state fines and penalties low when the bill was first passed in 2012.

State officials, however, say the law supports agricultural businesses while keeping pets healthy.

“This law strikes a very good balance between allowing this outgrowth of agribusiness to be able to stay in business in the State of Ohio and thrive, while also putting in place certain standards that provide for the proper care of animals in these facilities,” said assistant state veterinarian Melissa Simmerman of the new law.

Dog breeders are also required to show proof of a veterinarian who will care for the dogs when they are registered with the state and pay fees ranging from $150 to $750 for the license.

The state has budgeted $900,000 this year for the High-Volume Dog Breeding and Retail Program, which is managed by officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Those costs include start-up costs for the new program as well as salaries and benefits for a supervisor and dog breeding inspectors, a ministry spokeswoman said. Currently, the state has three inspectors and will likely hire a fourth soon.

Work in progress

Although only two high-volume breeders have registered with the state in many southwestern Ohio counties, there are bound to be more dog breeders still operating unlicensed, despite the new law, a said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.

Kumpf said the law requires breeders to self-report to the state, and some breeders, including those who might operate in southwestern Ohio, might just skip the new requirement.

“Until (the state) receives a complaint, it’s very difficult to find these people,” Kumpf said. “Is it conceivable that someone has dogs in kennels? Absolutely. If you have 200 acres, it’s very easy to set up a kennel operation that no one will see, hear or smell, no matter how close they get to your property line.

Simmerman, the state’s assistant veterinarian, said she knows there are dog breeders in Ohio who haven’t reported their activity, but state officials are willing to work with them. anyone who would come forward, even after the January 1 deadline of this year.

“We thought this process would be slow to develop,” Simmerman said of the entry requirements. “At the moment, I am very satisfied with the number of applications. There is no doubt in my mind that the number will not increase and will continue to increase as new people enter the business.

Inspections of dog breeding operations began in early February and no major violations have yet been found, Simmerman said late last week.