Undercover Investigation Reveals the Tragedy of Ohio’s Dog Auctions

OH dog auctionCourtesy of Animals’ Angels 

Participants in puppy mill auctions such as last month’s Farmerstown Dog Auction in Ohio are large-scale breeders raising large numbers of dogs and puppies. A single puppy mill operation will house and breed literally hundreds of dogs, which a usually kept in wire cages.

It is not surprising that animal advocates on the inside and undercover are rare, and not something those involved with puppy mills and dog auctions want to see. However, Animals’ Angels has received information and film from an anonymous source present at the January auction. We believe it is important to share the following information with you.  

Security at the Farmerstown Dog Auction last month, as it is with all such auctions, was extraordinarily tight. The Holmes County Sheriff’s Department provided security. They maintained a strong presence with three deputies standing at the entrance and two sheriff’s department cars in the parking lot.

Deputies searched people for cell phones and cameras. Signs were posted throughout the grounds warning, "No Cell Phones, No Cameras," and "You are Subject to Personal Search."

One officer patrolled the staging area and trailers to ensure that no one photographed or video taped conditions. Security concerns seemed 100% focused on keeping people out who might be critical of the auction. Zero security or compliance activity was directed to regulations for the well-being of the animals.

The Farmerstown Dog Auction began in 2004 and spurred a huge surge in puppy mill operations in and around Holmes County. Purebred puppies have become an increasingly lucrative cash crop. In 2006 this Ohio county licensed 478 kennels.

Auction owner Harold Neuhart is a USDA "Class A" operator of Seneca View Kennels. On November 21, 2009 Neuhart, a member of the Amish community, was cited for "verbally assaulting with intent to intimidate" two female USDA-APHIS inspectors during the Ohio Dog Auction.

Of the 504 dogs listed for the January sale, 300 came from the Clearwater Kennels in Cushing, MN. The Clearwater Kennels are 893 miles from the Farmerstown Auction and have received dozens of citations from USDA inspections during the past 14 months, including transportation-related violations. The almost 900 mile journey from Minnesota required over 17 hours of frigid travel for the dogs.

The 500 dogs and puppies were housed overnight before the auction in three 48 foot long trailers. The cages were stacked 4 high. The trailers were very cold. Though the overnight temp was 19 degrees, only one small propane heater was provided in each of the trailers. In two of the trailers, the heaters ran temporarily out of fuel.

The cages had wire floors with no resting boards. The dogs must stand, walk and lay down on wire forcing their toes to spread out unnaturally. Several dogs were observed with lesions between their toes where the flesh had split.

Some dogs from the Clearwater Kennel had mucous discharge from their eyes, skin inflammation and overgrown nails. Many appeared lethargic and depressed. Others paced frantically from side to side.

There were several cages without food and water, and in others the unsecured water bowls had dumped over. The smell of urine and feces was overwhelming. Many dogs shivered constantly in the cold.

According to Local 12 news, 5 dogs were rescued from the auction and examined by a veterinarian. "The vet found bad teeth, two had serious ear infections, one had splayed feet and toes from a life spent standing on cage wire, and one had its voice box removed",  the online article states.

Watch the undercover video…

Read the full length report…

A review of 2010 USDA inspection records shows that Clearwater Kennel has been cited for numerous federal violations such as:

continued use of expired vaccines

dogs with overgrown nails, mucous eye discharge, skin diseases or lesions on their feet

molded feed in feeders

accumulated and molded feces in cages

827 dogs with inadequate ventilation & 104.5 degree heat index

inadequate records for transport

inadequate records of acquisition or disposition

no health certificates

soiled matted coats

cages with less floor space than required

Conditions observed by USDA inspectors at Clearwater Kennel are comparable to the conditions that make headlines when a puppy mill operation is shut down. But what the news outlets decry is not "new." Despite the headlines and media attention, the inhumane conditions are not unusual-they occur everyday.


RSVP by Feb. 21 and join us on April 6, 2011 for Ohio Companion Animal Lobby Day!  Meet with your OH legislators in support of bills that will shut down puppy mills, improve animal cruelty laws, and repeal breed discrimination. If you go, you will have the opportunity to tell your OH legislators about the ballot initiative to ban dog auctions like this one Animals’ Angels reported about in Farmerstown.

Get involved and help gather signatures to put the initiative to end dog auctions like this one on the ballot!  For more information, visit www.BanOhioDogAuctions.com  Also, join a Peaceful Rally on 2/25 to protest yet another Farmerstown dog auction that same day.