HOLMES COUNTY, Ohio-- The FOX 8 I-Team is giving you a close-up look at how a growing number of dogs are being saved from so-called puppy mills.
Rescue groups along with the Ohio Forum For Companion Animals, formerly known as the Ohio Professional Dog Breeders Association, tell the I-Team that large volume dog breeders surrendered about 2,000 dogs in 2018.
George West, who volunteers with the Puppy Mill Rescue Team, has been going to the rural areas in Ohio just about weekly the last few months picking up dogs and taking them to rescue organizations in several states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
West says if rescue groups didn't take the dogs, they would have been put down.
"The breeders get rid of all of these because they don't fit with their plans or there are several younger puppies that simply didn't sell and when they got to be 20 weeks or more old, they don't like to keep them around," West said.
Jamie Runevitch, of the Puppy Mill Rescue Team, says their organization rescued 497 dogs in 2018 and so far this year they rescued about 100.
Last year, the I-Team investigated some of the large volume dog breeders in Ohio.
The I-Team revealed local breeders cited in the past by inspectors, found dogs in a large complex of cages, and exposed a lack of state oversight with just four inspectors for close to 300 breeders. We also showed how the state has taken steps to keep closer watch on breeders and make sure puppies are not suffering.
Runevitch says the new state law, enacted in September, is most likely one of the reasons more breeders are getting rid of the dogs. The new law limits the number of lifetime litters a female can produce and also calls for tighter regulations on the living conditions of the dogs.
Lisa Kime, of Golden Retrievers In Need, says they too have seen an increase of dogs being dumped by breeders.
"One breeder told us he was getting out of the business that there were too many regulations and he wanted the dogs gone before cold weather hit," Kime said.
Ginny Csider, of The Rescue Inn, Inc., says often the dogs they rescue from mills have medical issues.
“When they come to us they are typically very matted, very long claws that are often curled into their paws,” Csider said.
The rescues say they are always in need of donations and volunteers, and the need is getting greater.
“We have a lot of dogs that deserve a good life, “ Runevitch said. “ We want to do whatever we can to help them.”
State Senator Kenny Yuko says while the new law is helping, he would like lawmakers to do more. He says more inspectors need to be hired and more inspections need to be done.
“These dogs don’t deserve to spend their lives in a tiny cage,” Yuko said. “We need to be their voice.”