Watch as the I-Team uncovers more so-called puppy mills in Ohio

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KNOX COUNTY, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-Team investigating even more local large volume dog breeders.

Our first two reports sparked so many tips from you, we decided to do more digging.

We found more dogs in the hills of Ohio Amish country as well as more state inspection reports, with breeders cited in the past for how they are raising the dogs they sell.

So we continued to ask tough questions and tried to get a look at the kennels.

One FOX 8 viewer sent us a video he took in May when he was on the property of a large volume dog dealer in Knox County. The video shows dogs in cages that are stacked. The cages are housed in trailers on the breeder's property.

We went to that breeder, who was cited by the state Department of Agriculture in 2016 for failing to keep the enclosures cleaned and disinfected, asking why he kept the dogs in that condition.

"That was two years ago and you're coming to me now to find out about 2016?" the breeder asked. He said he corrected the issue long ago.

The breeder, who has sold about 210 puppies in the last year, told us he did not have anymore citations.

Inspection reports, however, from the Ohio Department of Agriculture show that this breeder was cited in 2017 for having multiple primary enclosures that were lacking protective coating on the open metal floors. When the inspector returned a few weeks later the breeder had corrected the issues.

In 2018, inspection reports show the breeder had no proof of physical examinations of each dog and puppy. When the inspector returned the next day, the breeder "had complied with this issue."

The breeder would not let I-Team cameras inside the kennels.

"No, I am not showing anybody," the breeder said.

We asked him about the video we were sent, and asked if the dogs were still kept in the same facility. He said yes.

We mentioned a new state law that went into effect in September which bans the stacking of cages.

He disagreed.

"No, no because there are wash downs between the dogs," the breeder said. "I made my point, that I want you to leave."

John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States' Stop Puppy Mills campaign, has been keeping a close eye on the new Ohio law.

"That's illegal under the new law," Goodwin said, about the stacking of the cages. "The language says that a dog's primary enclosure is not stacked on top of another primary enclosure. It is not in the least bit ambiguous."

State Senator Kenny Yuko, who helped sponsor the new law, says the video and information the I-Team found out has him even more concerned about some of the large volume dog breeders. He says the state Department of Agriculture has four inspectors who are assigned to inspect the nearly 300 large volume breeders.

"I am very concerned about enforcement," Yuko said.

Officials with the state Department of Agriculture, however, say they believe they have enough inspectors.

The Humane Society of the U.S. says Ohio is ranked number two in the country for the worst conditions among large volume breeders.

We wanted to check if the large volume breeders are following Ohio's new stricter laws but every large volume breeder we went to refused to let us look at the dogs.

"No, the USDA said don't let any strangers in there," one breeder told us.

The USDA also inspects large volume dog breeders.

We would like to show you what federal inspectors saw when they visited but the majority of the federal inspection records are blacked out. The USDA keeps most of its records secret, citing privacy concerns.

The Humane Society of the United States filed a federal lawsuit against the USDA in March for failing to release animal welfare public records. The USDA has filed a motion for summary judgment, asking that the case be dismissed. The judge is expected to rule on the matter sometime in the next few months.

Ingrid Nelson, a dog trainer, who works with dogs that have been rescued from so-called puppy mills, says many of the animals she deals with have a majority of physical issues.

"They are not handled; they are not socialized," Nelson said. "Often times they are taken away from their mothers way too young."

**See more on these investigations, here**

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