OHIO (WJW) -- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating what state inspectors are finding at high volume dog breeders, what the Humane Society of the United States calls ‘puppy mills.’
A year ago, Ohio officials announced a new law to help make sure high-volume breeders are keeping dogs in better conditions.
The I-Team filed a public records request to obtain some of the latest inspection reports from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. We received several reports that showed many breeders were cited for not following the new mandates, including stacking dog cages . According to the inspection reports, many of the breeders cited were given additional time to correct the violation. If they don't, they could be fined and possibly face other civil or criminal penalties.
So we went to visit some of the breeders to find out if the violations were fixed.
Usually, the breeders want nothing to do with talking to the I-Team or showing us around.
At one operation in Columbiana County, we saw no trespassing signs. We stood at the end of the driveway and called. A man on the phone told us, “No, you are not welcome on my property. I don’t go to your business or your house.”
Records show that business was cited for numerous violations including keeping dogs in cages stacked on top of each other. The man on the phone told us all the violations have been corrected but, again, he wouldn’t let us in for a look.
In Millersburg, we met another breeder. We were able to talk to the man running the operation but, again, we didn’t get far.
He’s been cited for several violations including stacking dog cages. He told us he has corrected some violations, and he’s still working on others. He also said he’s had health issues which has delayed his work.
Speaking of the state inspectors he said, “They were real nice to work with. They are working with me.”
He told us the dogs are “fine.” But he said for “security reasons no one’s allowed in there.”
Still, we pressed and asked, "What security reasons?" He responded, “I don’t have to answer that.”
The state defines high-volume breeders as breeders that keep, house and maintain six or more breeding dogs. And they sell five or more adult dogs or puppies in a year to dog brokers or pet stores. Or, they sell 40 or more dogs or puppies to the public in a year. State officials say there are currently more than 400 high-volume dog breeders in Ohio.
Last year, the I-Team exposed sometimes horrific conditions - some dogs not getting proper medical care, others kept in cages stacked and more.
Corey Roscoe, the Ohio director of the Humane Society, says she is hoping that with the stricter laws and more state inspections dogs will have better living conditions.
"The law can only get us so far," Roscoe said. "We still have hundreds of high-volume breeders. The best way to stop having puppy mills is to stop buying puppies online, or buying from breeders you have not met or screened. "
Several animal rescue groups stress that before anyone purchases a puppy from a breeder they should ask to look at where the animal is housed and also ask for medical records.