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“Puppy Mill” Complaints

As appointed humane agents and dog wardens for Holmes County, the Dog Warden’s Department responds to complaints involving commercial dog breeders referred to by some as “puppy mills”.

Here are some things to consider when reporting a dog breeder.

1. In the state of Ohio it is not illegal to have and to breed a large number of dogs. There is no limit to the number of dogs an individual can house and breed. Breeding dogs in itself is not illegal.

2. Dog breeders must have the proper license to breed. Whether its a county kennel license, Ohio Department of Agriculture Commercial Dog Breeders license, or a United States Department of Agriculture license.

3. If a person is registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and or the United State Department of Agriculture as a breeder, they have standards of care  they are required to abide by. These standards are enforced by those agency’s. Any dog breeder not registered with the state as a high volume breeder as defined in Section 956 of the Ohio Revised Code or with the USDA does not have official standards of care they need to abide. They must only follow Ohio’s animal cruelty laws found in Section 959 of the Ohio Revised Code.

4. It’s important to realize that when purchasing a puppy it is very susceptible to getting sick. Not all puppies get sick because of negligence of the breeder or unclean and unsanitary conditions at the kennel prior to purchuse. When filing a complaint regarding sick puppies we will ask for all the details and vet records/documents involving the purchase. One thing we will reiterate is that if you want your money back and vet bill covered by the breeder that will be a civil matter and will not involve our department, unless the breeder is charged with a cruelty violation and your puppy’s condition was a direct result of that violation.

5. If you purchased a puppy from someone who is not registered with the ODA or the USDA there are no vet check requirements prior to the puppy being sold unless the puppy is shipped or taken out of state, in which case the puppy would need to be accompanied with a certified health certificate. There are also no laws prohibiting breeders from administering the basic vaccinations for puppies themselves prior to being sold.

6. When filing a report we will ask you to be as specific as possible regarding your complaint. Knowing that someone is breeding a lot of dogs in itself is not a cruelty complaint, that would only be a license issue. When filing a cruelty complaint we need to know who, what, when, and where. What did you hear? What did you observe? Remaining anonymous is fine, however many times anonymous complaints will stop us at the front door.

7. The information of the breeder is important. Names, addresses, phone numbers, exc. Bring as much information as you can.

8. All breeders in Ohio are required to follow Ohio’s Animal Cruelty Laws under Section 959 of the Ohio Revised Code this includes those registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and those registered with the United States Department of Agriculture.

9. Keep in mind the person you purchased the puppy from and spoke directly to is not always the person that bred and raised the puppy. 

Have a complaint? Give us a call at 330-674-6301.

Dog Warden Notes:

We take all dog breeder complaints seriously. When handling these complaints our department is responsible for bringing breeders into compliance with kennel licensing requirements and ensuring that all dogs have access to shelter, and are given adequate food and water, and have not been subject to a cruelty violation as defined in Ohio Revised Code 1717.