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CLEVELAND (WJW)– A local animal rescue group says it is saving a record number of dogs from what the Humane Society of the U.S. calls puppy mills, and the Puppy Mill Rescue Team gives some of the credit to the FOX 8 I-Team.

“People see the stories on FOX 8 and many told us they didn’t know this problem was in their own backyard until they saw the stories,” said Jamie Runevitch, of the Puppy Mill Rescue Team. “That has helped us rescue dogs out of the mills literally by the bus loads.”

Runevitch said the organization brought in more donations than ever before and got enough to buy a bus. That bus helps rescue 50 to 70 dogs at a time.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said there are more than 400 large-volume breeders in the state.

An investigation by the I-Team found inspection reports show many breeders were cited in 2019 for keeping dogs in cages that were too small or stacked. Other inspection reports showed some dogs not getting medical care.

“There are hundreds of dogs living in inhumane conditions for the purpose of mass production of puppies,” Runevitch said.

“What makes it worse is what happens to the extra inventory? Often they die. They are killed off, culled. This is why we are The Puppy Mill Rescue Team. Our humble beginnings started with a single veterinarian advocating for discarded mill dogs. Dogs that formerly would have been disposed of via euthanasia, instead were surrendered to the veterinary clinic, who would provide medical care.”

The Puppy Mill Rescue Team partners with over 55 rescue organizations in seven states.

“Over 100 dogs, many referred to as Christmas rejects because they didn’t sell, were rescued in December alone,” Runevitch said.

Past I-Team investigation have shown pictures of the so called puppy mills.

The Puppy Mill Rescue Team and the Humane Society of the U.S. said they are working to make sure dogs are treated better .

“We also want to put bad breeders out of business and convince people to stop buying,” Runevitch said.

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