I-Team investigation: Hidden camera look at so-called puppy mills in Ohio

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CLEVELAND – An exclusive FOX 8 I-Team hidden camera investigation digs into the world of dogs for sale.

Animal rights activists say in some cases dogs are in cages and housed in conditions they call horrific.

The Humane Society of the United States puts out an annual Horrible Hundred list and Ohio has the second most of the so-called puppy mills in the country. The list names the large volume dog breeders that were cited by federal or state inspectors for non-compliance issues.

So we used hidden cameras and SkyFox, and went kennel to kennel looking for answers. We wanted to look at those on the Humane Society’s Horrible Hundred list as well as other kennels.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said there are close to 300 large volume dog breeders in the state and more than half are located in Holmes County.

Most of the breeders we found said they would be willing to sell us a puppy, but they wouldn’t show us where the dogs were housed.

We went to one breeder in Holmes County and found a big complex of cages, including. some cages with multiple dogs. We also found a few dogs inside a darkened barn.

A photo from a 2015 Ohio Department of Agriculture report shows a dog from this breeder with a head injury. A 2014 USDA report states seven dead puppies were found on this breeder’s property.

The state, however, said this breeder did not have any compliance issues in 2016, 2017 or this year.

A man, who said he was the owner’s son would not let us go back in the kennel area.

We also went to Daniel Miller’s property in Ashland County. Miller said he has a five-star rating online, but also refused to show us the dogs. He said he did not know why he was on the Humane Society’s Horrible Hundred list.

Miller’s kennel has been cited several times in the past. This August, state officials cited him for selling puppies under 8 weeks old. In September, state agents went back and said they found he was in compliance.

The Better Business Bureau website states there have been several complaints against Miller, including that the dogs people receive are sick. Miller told us this isn’t true.

We went to several other breeders, but time and again, the only dogs we got to see close up were dogs brought out to us.

Ohio considered one of the worst in the country for so-called puppy mills, but the I-Team found big mystery surrounding some of the kennels and big money too.

“I was asking $1,100,” one breeder told us. “Make me a good offer that I can’t turn down.”

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