Puppy mills are an issue that I care deeply about, so when I saw Sidewalk Dog‘s post about The Horrible 100 list of the worst puppy mills in the U.S., I had to check it to see if any Ohio breeders made the list. Unfortunately (but not to my surprise) Ohio did make the list with three different breeders. According to the ASPCA, Ohio has one of the largest number of puppy mills in the country, after Pennsylvania, Missouri and New York.
Only 16 states had breeders on this list, so it’s definitely not a good list to be on. The breeders on this list are the worst of the worst. The report found conditions at these breeders such as puppies on the verge of dying, dogs with gaping wounds or infections, dogs living in freezing conditions with only solid ice to drink, and many other horrible, inhumane conditions no animal should have to endure.
Here are the Ohio breeders on the list:
Marvin Burkholder, Berlin Kennel, Millersburg, OH – An inspector found that Burkholder had sold at least two litters of underage puppies, one litter of dogs was only 46 days old. Puppies are required to be at least 8 weeks before being sold, as taking them away from their mother at this young age can lead to problems with their immune system as well as behavioral issues. The conditions at his kennel were also found to be unsanitary and several dogs had health issues.
Alvin Hershberger, A&E Kennels, Sugarcreek, OH – Dogs with this breeder were found left outside in 19 degree weather with only a plastic barrel for shelter, which some of the dogs couldn’t even fit into. Dogs were also found severely underweight and sick. His USDA license was revoked in February so he couldn’t sell to pet stores or online, but he was still able to sell to the public through his state license.
Andy Yoder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, Millersburg, OH – Several dead puppies were found spread out on the grounds, with no explanation as to how they died. Other dogs were in severe need of veterinary care, including one dog who had a severely embedded collar that could not be removed.
It’s hard for me to read, let alone, write about this stuff, so I spared you some of the gorier details. I think we all by now know that you should NEVER buy from a pet store, as this is where those dogs come from, but I know that people still do buy from breeders so it’s important to be educated. Some of these horrible breeders do attempt to sell these dogs online, so you really need to know what you’re getting into and do your research before getting your dog from a breeder online.
Marilyn’s Voice, a local rescue group that takes in many puppy mill dogs, has a great article about finding a reputable breeder: http://marilynsvoice.org/finding_resp_breeder_article.html
Some key takeaways from that article:
- Search the Internet for breed clubs near you – NOT breeders near you
- Attend a dog show
- Ask local dog groomers, boarding facilities or other pet service providers
- Know that a reputable breeder will never sell dogs through a pet store or in any other way that doesn’t allow interaction with buyers to ensure that the puppies are a good match for the families
- Don’t ever buy a dog without personally visiting where he or she was born and raised.
If you don’t need a specific breed for the pedigree or whatever the case, my advice would be to ADOPT. And even if you are looking for a specific breed, there is probably a rescue group that specializes in that breed. Just to name a few in Ohio: Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue, Ohio Valley Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club, Ohio Fuzzy Paws Shi Tzu Rescue, Adopt a Husky Ohio, Greyhound Adoption of Ohio. Many times you can get puppies from these rescue groups as well, so it’s not just older dogs available for adoption.
Let’s hope soon this won’t even be an issue. Last year, the state of Ohio passed stricter laws regarding puppy mills, requiring high volume breeders to get a license and abide by certain standards of care. And, Goddard’s Law, a bill named after Dick Goddard that will make animal cruelty a felony, overwhelming passed the House and should hopefully get approved by the Senate sometime soon.
Also, visit: http://www.thepuppymillproject.org/take-action-now/ or http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/tips/what_you_can_do_stop_puppy_mills.html for more information on what you can do.