Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are high-volume dog breeding facilities that force dogs to reproduce in inhumane living conditions. They profit off selling purebred puppies, which frequently carry diseases or have hereditary conditions resulting from inbreeding. According to The Humane Society of the United States, most puppies sold in pet stores and through online realtors are born in puppy mills.

Breeders disregard the health of their dogs to keep costs low and maximize their profits. They force mother dogs to overbreed in unsanitary living conditions, often without proper veterinarian care. Animals need socialization to avoid developing unnecessary fearful or aggressive behavior. These dogs are crammed into unsafe wire cages and given very little attention. This neglect creates detrimental health effects for the mother and her puppies.

There is no retirement for breeding dogs. These animals are overworked and forced to reproduce until their death. If a breeding dog can no longer provide offspring, it is abandoned or killed. Large-scale puppy breeders see their dogs as business property instead of loving family members.

Puppy mills cause health risks for the public. In this study on Campylobacter jejuni infections, scientists found that extensively drug-resistant C jejuni strains have emerged as a cause of illness among pet store customers, employees, and visitors. This strain is incredibly dangerous to the public’s safety as oral antibiotics cannot remedy this infectious strain.

Learn about the plight of puppy mill dogs. In an effort to spread awareness about the plight of puppy mill dogs, the Humane Society of the United States releases an annual Horrible Hundred report. This report showcases the country’s worst hundred puppy mills that inhumanely treat dogs. In 2021, Ohio was ranked the second worst state for inhumane puppy mills (Horrible Hundred 2021).

In 2021, Ohio had 16 of the nation’s worst puppy mills, with breeding dogs dying from dental procedures performed by breeders. In 2022, the Ohio Department of Agriculture did not provide HSUS the requested information to include in the Horrible Hundred report in a timely manner, so the public was prevented from learning the status of Ohio’s inhumane puppy mills (Horrible Hundred 2022).

In 2022, 40% of the Horrible Hundred breeders were repeat offenders. According to the report, repeat offender Steve Kruse has partnered with Daniel Gingerich, another infamous puppy mill operator. Gingerich’s license was taken away by the USDA in October 2021 when he had amassed over 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. He was also forced to give up more than 500 dogs and was fined and criminally charged for animal neglect. The Gingerich case court records show that Kruse was his close associate, and that these two were known to exchange high numbers of dogs. Read more about Gingerich and his family puppy mill business in this article. After Gingerich was indicted for animal cruelty in Iowa, he moved to Hillsboro, Ohio.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of dogs in commercial breeding facilities. This piece of legislation sets forth minimum standards of care for dogs in commercial breeding facilities, such as standards for cage space, flooring, veterinary care, and sanitation. The USDA’s enforcement of the AWA is extremely lax and ineffective enforcement, which allows for barbaric treatment of commercially bred dogs to persist.

Be a responsible consumer. When seeking a new animal companion, adopt locally through rescues and shelters. If buying from a breeder, ensure they are responsibly and humanely breeding animals.

Some signs of responsible breeding, according to The Humane Society of the United States, include:

  • Responsible breeders will encourage you to visit the space where the puppies were born and raised.
  • Responsible breeders never use cages and small spaces. All animals should have clean, roomy, and comfortable living spaces.
  • Responsible breeders breed sparingly. They specialize in one or a few breeds of dogs and don’t have puppies available all the time.
  • Responsible breeders will show you individual records of veterinary visits for your puppy and the parents.
  • Responsible breeders will want you to sign a contract and will ask you to return the puppy to them if you are ever unable to keep the dog.

Read HSUS’s guide to finding a responsible dog breeder for more in-depth information.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) proposed rule package for commercial dog breeders, which was sent to Ohio’s Joint Commission on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) for an April hearing, included two proposed rules that would have allowed breeders to perform painful tail docking and dew claw removal procedures on puppies without pain medication or anesthesia, as well as perform their own criminal background checks. View this article where OAA’s Executive Director Vicki Deisner explains these rules and the horrific consequences that would have happened if these rules were passed.

OAA partnered with Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) to stop these two abominable rule proposals. OAA and AWI succeeded in getting these proposed rules tabled at the April JCARR hearing, with the help of our partners and members. 

ODA revised its criminal background rule to include Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the review process.  At the June JCARR hearing, the revised rule was accepted with the recommendation that ODA do a background check on a regular basis.

However, ODA has not revised the rule to stop the breeders from performing tail docking and dewclaw removal on puppy mill dogs.