Ohio Dog Auctions Act

Ohio dog auction

Update June 30, 2012: The Ohio Coalition to Ban Dog Auctions will not have the funds to collect the signatures necessary to bring the Ohio Dog Auctions Act to voters in November, 2012. For more on this effort, see Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update May 2, 2012:The Ohio legislature has thus far failed to take action on the Ohio Dog Auctions Act despite the demand from more than 118,115 voters that the state ban dog auctions and raffles. Continue to push your Ohio state legislators to take action and pass the Ohio Dog Auctions Act – See Animal Law Coalition’s reports below for more information…..BUT in the meantime, it’s time to get the additional signatures needed to put this measure on the November, 2012 ballot if the legislature continues to fail to act!

Get a campaign kit to help gather signatures for our 2012 ballot initiative!  

The kit contains an informational sheet on the top Q&A everyone needs to know on Ohio dog auctions and an informational sheet on best strategies in gather signatures from registered voters. 

Please note that because this is an Initiated Statute whose rules are governed by the Ohio Secretary of State, all signatures must be collected on a hard copy Petition and cannot be collected online. 

You can download at the end of this article copies of the Ohio Dog Auctions Act, instructions for gathering signatures, and a flyer, or by clicking on these links:

Download a copy of the Ohio Dog Auctions Act at the end of this article. This is the initiative petition to gather signatures from registered Ohio voters.  All petitions must be received by our Treasurer, Mary O’Connor-Shaver (address is on the front of the Petition), by Monday, June 25, 2012!

Also at the end of this article you will find Instructions for Collecting Signatures in support of the Ohio Dog Auctions Act. 

You will also find at the end of this article a Campaign Flyer for our ballot initiative (Ohio Dog Auctions Act) that you can download and circulate widely in Ohio.  

Update April 18, 2012:  Since the certification of the citizen initiated statute to ban dog auctions and raffles in Ohio, the measure has been pending in the state legislature with strong support from sponsors Reps. Peter Beck, Kathleen Clyde, and Matt Lundy. If the legislature fails to enact the measure by May 1, 2012, citizens can with an additional 118, 115 signatures, have the dog auction ban placed on November’s ballot.

Currently, an effort is under way to have the dog auctions ban initiative included in the budget bill, HB 487. A copy of the proposed ban is attached below for downloading.


Make sure your Ohio state legislators know that you want them to support the Ohio Dog Auctions Act. Find your Ohio state legislators and their contact info here. (Put in your zipcode in the top right of the page.) Write (letters or faxes are best) or call your legislators NOW!

For more information visit the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions and read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report about this citizen initiative below.  

Update Jan. 27, 2012: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today certified that petitioners seeking a citizen initiated statute regarding dog auctions collected an additional 2,906 valid signatures. The total number of valid signatures now certified is 118,115 and meets the constitutional requirements. Petitioners needed 115,570 valid signatures, or three percent of the total vote cast for Governor in 2010. As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners must also have collected signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties collected enough signatures equal to 1.5 percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2010. Petitioners met or exceeded the 1.5 percent threshold in 51 counties.

Additional Information: Secretary of State Certification Letter Procedure for a Citizen Initiated Statute2010 Governor’s Race Percentage Chart (Includes County-by-County Breakdown)  

The Ohio legislature now has 4 months to act on the initiative. 

For more on the initiative, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update Dec. 12, 2011: As of the deadline for gathering signatures, December 1, 2011, the Ohio Coalition to Ban Dog Auctions had collected over 150,000 signatures from 88 Ohio counties in support of a ballot initiative to ban dog auctions. Far more than the 120,700 required for the ballot initiative to continue to the next phase – consideration by the state legislature as of January 1, 2012.

First, though, the Ohio Secretary of State must confirm that there are 120,700 valid signatures. Once that is done, the initiative goes to the legislature which has the opportunity to pass the legislation and avoid a vote by voters. 

For more on ballot initiatives in Ohio and the effort to stop dog auctions, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below and follow the ballot initiative drive here.

Original report Jan. 15, 2010: A state ballot initiative committee, Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, has continued its campaign to save hundreds of "breeding" dogs which they believe are bought and sold carelessly and often treated heartlessly with little or no regard for their health and well-being. 

The Ohio Dog Auctions Act is a measure whose mission is to help improve the lives of dogs in commercial breeding operations in Ohio.  The proposed law would make it illegal for anyone to auction or raffle a dog in Ohio. It also would prohibit bringing dogs into the state for sale or trade that were acquired by auction or raffle elsewhere.

"The Ohio dog auctions are a symptom of the puppy mill industry," said Mary O’Connor-Shaver, Treasurer for the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions.  "The Coalition has witnessed first-hand the atrocious conditions of dogs sold at these auctions. Often living in their own waste, many of these dogs suffer from eye, ear and respiratory infections, parasites and malnutrition."

"Dog auctions in Tuscarawas and Holmes counties serve as major distribution channels for buyers and sellers from 15 states, many of whom have long standing, repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act and/or have been convicted of animal cruelty."

O’Connor-Shaver continued, "Here’s just one example taken from a USDA inspection report for an Ohio ‘commercial’ breeder who profits from Ohio dog auctions:

"One licensed breeder in Ohio, with no veterinary qualifications, operated on a pregnant dog without anesthesia; the breeder delayed calling a veterinarian and the dog bled to death. The inspector also found that 40 percent of the (200) dogs in the kennel were blind due to an outbreak of Leptospirosis. The inspector determined that the facility’s water was contaminated and had caused the outbreak."  

"Individuals who participate in these auctions are USDA licensed commercial breeders who are raising large numbers of dogs and puppies with profit as the primary motive for existence," said Veronica Dickey, volunteer with Coalition for Animal Concerns. "Many of them are found to be unhealthy, not screened for genetic diseases, do not show resemblance to the breed standard and lack good temperament. We believe Ohioans do not wish these dog auctions to continue in our state, and we support this ballot initiative which we feel will help protect dogs from inhumane treatment and abuse."

Ohio ranks seventh among the top ten states in the nation with the most USDA licensed commercial breeding kennels, a 400% increase from just six years ago. Dogs at these facilities typically receive little to no medical care, live in conditions with little to no exercise, socialization or human interaction, and are confined inside wire cages the size of a dishwasher for life. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) considers auctions and raffles not to be reasonable and appropriate methods to obtain or transfer dogs, and they discourage Parent Club rescue groups from purchasing dogs at these events.  AKC believes that the purchasing of dogs at auctions is not overall in the best interest of purebred dogs.

The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, a Political Action Committee (PAC) comprised of numerous individuals from animal welfare organizations, has gained support from the Athens County Humane Society, Capital Area Humane Society, Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL), Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village, The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia, Humane Society of Delaware County, Erie Shores Humane Society, Ohio State University Buckeyes for Canines, PAWS Ohio, Animal Law Coalition, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The process for passing the Ohio dog Auctions Act ballot initiative 

The proposal to ban all dog auctions and raffles has been certified by the state Attorney General and the Ohio Ballot Board.  Ohio Revised Code §§3501.05, 3519.01, .05; 3505.062

The initiative, the Ohio Dog Auctions Act would enact Section 955.54 of the Ohio Revised Code to make it unlawful for any person to auction, as defined in ORC 4707.01, or raffle a dog within Ohio for any purpose. It would also prohibit bringing a dog that was acquired through an auction or raffle into Ohio for purposes of sale or trade.

The Ohio Attorney General would have authority to investigate, conciliate and prosecute alleged violations of the Act. The Attorney General or any resident of the state could bring a civil action to enjoin a violation of the Act. A first conviction under the Act would be punishable as a minor misdemeanor and each subsequent conviction as a fourth degree misdemeanor.

ORC 4707.01 defines "auction" to mean a sale "between an auctioneer … and members of the audience or prospective purchasers, the exchanges and gestures consisting of a series of invitations for offers made by the auctioneer and offers by members of the audience or prospective purchasers, with the right to acceptance of offers with the auctioneer". "Auction" includes a sale involving advance bidding.  

dog auctionGo here for a look at Ohio dog auctions and why they should be banned.

Before voters decide this, the state legislature must be given an opportunity to pass it. For the legislature to consider it, though, petitions must be circulated to gather signatures from Ohio voters in at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties.  Only qualified electors can sign the petition. There is one petition per county. From each of these 44 counties, the signatures must equal at least 1.5% of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election which was 2006. The total number of valid signatures on the petition must equal 120,700 which is at least 3% of the total vote cast for the office of governor during the 2006 gubernatorial election.  Ohio Constitution Article II, §§1b, g; ORC §§ 3519.10, 14.

This signature drive in 2010 was really a continuation of the effort which began last fall, 2009. During that initial drive which ended December 14, supporters gathered 7,202 signatures. Mary O’Connor Shaver, explains, "[T]his … represents a very strong showing given that … our signature drive was not launched until after the November 3 election (efforts from our volunteers and supporters were focused on defeating Ohio Issue 2)." 

Once the necessary signatures are obtained, the legislature is given an opportunity to pass the initiative as a law. If the legislature does not act on the initiative within four months of the start of the session when the initative is introduced, or fails to pass it or passes it in amended form, proponents can then try to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide. To do that, another 120,700 signatures are required on yet another petition. Ohio Constitution Article II, Sec.1b

For more info on the ballot initiative…..


24 thoughts on “Ohio Dog Auctions Act”

  1. I do not live in Ohio….is there anything I can do to help stop this disturbing auction and actions of these people…..this saddens me so much, SANDY

  2. Thank you, Sandy. Please feel free to send this link to any OH voters you know and ask them to sign the petition and send it in by Dec. 14!

  3. I wish we could get Oprah to ask voters in Ohio to sign the petition. We need that kind of coverage quickly in order to meet the required signatures.

  4. Hi Sandy,

    This is Ann.I live in Mass. How do I sing this petition. do you know. thanks. I am very upset with this horrifying discusting event. Whats wrong with people. please email me thanks. Ann. I wont be on till monday morn. hope to hear from you. maybe you and I can do something more about this to help.

  5. Please stop this we love our animals.We are the United States not China we don’t eat and abuse our animals It has to be stopped now.

  6. I just found out about this. Dec 15th. Wish I would have known sooner. Is there anything I can do now or i the future? I live in Ohio. This needs to be stopped now! More people need to be aware of this. I know 2 people who bought dogs from the Amish. They think it is ok because it’s just a nice Amish family. I tried to tell them it could be puppy mill dogs, however they refuse to believe me. I will share this story with them. Maybe they will read it. I now have proof. Thank you! We need to spead the word better. I’m on many dog sites, animal rescue, and animal rights web sites. I can’t believe I did not know about this. UGH! Is there anything I can do? Any petition I can sign and spread around? Is it too late to help? Please keep me informed. I will create an account for this site. Thank you
    It says Dec 14th is when I commented on this, It is actually Dec 15th at 8:00 a.m.
    Thank you for all you do for our animals!

  7. I just read about this in today’s (December 15, 2009) Plain Dealer. I wish I would have known sooner, so that I could pass the information to friends who also detest mistreatment of animals. I will watch your web site for future action. The word needs to get out to more people.

    J.M. Cleveland, Ohio

  8. I applaud the efforts to close down these auctions, and will help in any way possible. I got a Golden Retriever from a rescue group last year – 7 years old, lived in a barn all of her life in Holmes County, and at least the farmer didn’t take her out and shoot her when she passed her prime ( that happens sometimes). So I would also encourge people that get behind this effort to adovcate for getting dear dogs from pounds/rescue organizations. My Terra is nothing but the biggest bundle of love, and she knows I will take care of her forever – after all, she’s in “retirement”!

  9. Thanks so much for your support Karen! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at 614-271-8248.

    Mary O’Connor-Shaver
    Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions

  10. Im originally from OH and this absolutely disturbs me. These auctions need to be stopped!! I’ll be sending this to all of my friends and family in OH.

  11. Just when you think people can not sink to a new low,
    Hey guess what? they sure can be, what a shocker!!
    Glad to hear about the people of Ohio are taking a stand!!

  12. Ohio has such a long way to go as to the way animals are treated. We need laws to ban teethering/ chaining. And its desperate to add protection for animals left outside in our bitter cold winters. If you are from ohi please call your senators and let them know where you stand regarding these issues on the mistreatment o our beloved pets. Tell them you will not endorse or support ANY legislater who is against these issues!! The true test of a great nation lies in the treatment ( or mistreatment ) of the smallest and most helpless.

  13. I live in Ohio, and actually attended a dog auction several years ago when they were held in Walnut Creek at the Amish Flea Market. I didn’t know what puppy mills were, but it hurt me to see those sad little puppies – espcially the ones no one wanted that sold for a few dollars. Fast forward – March 2009 – I adopted a Bichon Frise I found on PetFinder- and a supposedly reputable rescue. We only went to look at the puppy, but ended up bringing him home. He was almost 6 months old – they told us he was 3 months – and he couldn’t go up and down stairs, became hysterical in a crate, and didn’t know how to play with toys! He also ate his feces – a sign of not enough to eat and/or boredom. He also had some gross imperfections that I later learned from the Bichon Club of America were due to bad breeding. We did not adopt Fritz with the idea of breeding him – he is a family member and we don’t care anything about imperfections. Because I was curious, I went to the rescue and asked where he came from. I got some song and dance about he was a gift to an elderly woman who couldn’t handle him, to a shelter, and to the rescue. I did nail it down that he came from Millersburg, so my beautiful little Fritz is a puppy mill dog. He also has some behavioral and social problems that are improving, but may never go away. I am so glad that we brought Fritz hom that day. I often think what might have happened to my beautiful little guy if we hadn’t taken him.

  14. Dog auctions are a tragic embarrassment to Ohio and it’s humane-minded citizens. We have been asked if people should “buy” or “rescue” these dogs. We have studied the numbers from past auctions and believe that the dogs being offered at these auctions are not mill cast-offs but were, in many cases, purposely bred to supply auction buyers, including rescue groups!

    Buying at the auction will simply mean that it will be profitable. If it is profitable, it will continue and more dogs will be bred for sale at future Ohio Dog Auctions. That said, we do understand compassion for the dogs being sold and know that there will be some who will buy. We understand both sides of the situation, and hope that in the long run, not buying will produce the best outcome to end these auctions altogether.

  15. Dog auctions are a tragic embarrassment to Ohio and it’s humane-minded citizens. We have been asked if people should “buy” or “rescue” these dogs. We have studied the numbers from past auctions and believe that the dogs being offered at these auctions are not mill cast-offs but were, in many cases, purposely bred to supply auction buyers, including rescue groups!

    Buying at the auction will simply mean that it will be profitable. If it is profitable, it will continue and more dogs will be bred for sale at future Ohio Dog Auctions. That said, we do understand compassion for the dogs being sold and know that there will be some who will buy. We understand both sides of the situation, and hope that in the long run, not buying will produce the best outcome to end these auctions altogether.

  16. I was just curious. If I go to a house and have 5 people sign the petition, who are all registered to vote, but they have the same last name and address, can they not do it?

  17. I only want to sign the petition. How do I do that? Do I need to download and sign the “Initiative petition Ohio Dog Auctions Act” pdf? Is there a website that I can go to and recommend to friends and family to go to sign the petition? Thank you.

  18. 1) Reach out to Church leaders and parishioners — request that the flyers be posted on their Bulletins. 2) Look for Catholic churches in Ohio named after St. Francis of Assisi (he’s the patron saint of all animals) — his feastday falls in October, ask the church if signing of petition can be a part of celebrating the feast of St. Francis.

  19. I am a former horse farm owner now a disabled senior with a 3.5 year Chohuahua who was an abused rescue who is now a Registered Service Dog.
    I have seen the cruelty and neglect of dogs as well as horses, sheep goats, cattle etc. Since 1967 I have been speaking out for strict Animal Rights Laws and banning of animal auctions. I have not seen any changes. This is long overdue. My heart breaks at the pain and suffering of the animals. Money is NOT an issue.
    Mankinds cruelty is beyond my comprehension!
    I will not rest until I see change for the good of our furry friends become a reality.
    We must ban together a push for a Ban on Dog Auctions NOW!
    Alert the Media, tell everyyone;sign petitions.
    Most of all, do not buy any animal at auction;puppy mills and back yard breeders!
    Thank you.

  20. Quite a few years ago, I had a sales rep in my shop who lived in the Holmes Co area and attended an auction. He said that 60% of the dogs went to mill/breeders, 30% went to rescues and 10% went to the general public. He also stated that some rescues paid incredible amounts for those dogs. Knowing the Amish ways, he said that they are not ignorant and if they weren’t able to sell these dogs, they would find another way to make money as they are very resourceful. So, DON’T BUY AT AUCTIONS in addition to pet shops and back yard breeders, just because you feel sorry.

  21. Where do you live Bob? If you’re in the Cleveland area, you can come to Fall Fest Oct. 23, 1-4, in Painesville’s Veteran’s Park and sign my petition. I will have a card table set up at Fall Fest, where there will be a dog and kid halloween costume parade and contest.

    If you are not in Cleveland, please contact Mary Shaver (email listed on this website) to find your local petition circulators.

    Thanks for your interest!


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