In Response to IG Report, Group Calls for Ban on Ohio Dog Auctions

Jun 02, 2010, 09:45 ET from Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A state ballot initiative committee, Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions (frequently referred to by media as BODA) is aggressively marketing a 2010 campaign to help improve the lives of dogs in Ohio commercial breeding operations.  The action follows a scathing report issued on May 25, 2010 by the Inspector General critical of the government's handling of puppy mill investigations.  

The proposed law would make it illegal for anyone to auction or raffle a dog in Ohio.  It would also prohibit bringing dogs into the state for sale or trade that were acquired by auction or raffle elsewhere. Currently auction participants travel from 15 surrounding states to attend the Ohio sales, including from Pennsylvania where public dog auctions are already banned.  

To place a measure on the November 2011 statewide ballot, the Coalition must gather more than 120,700 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters by December 1.  The group has so far collected over 15,000 signatures from 72 counties.  Mary O'Connor-Shaver, whose family has a farming background, is the Treasurer for the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions.  She explains the group's incentive.  "We contend that breeders who participate in these auctions are raising large numbers of dogs and puppies with profit as their primary motive."  

Many of the animals sold at Ohio auctions are found to be unhealthy and unscreened for any genetic diseases.  During the October 31, 2009 and May 22, 2010 auctions, O'Connor-Shaver confirmed that four dogs tested positive for brucellosis.  Three of these were euthanized immediately following their diagnosis.  Many dogs show little or no 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," O'Conner-Shaver states.  

Based on a review of dozens of USDA reports issued on breeders who have consigned and purchased dogs at this auction, the Coalition firmly believes that these events serve as a major distribution channel for buyers and sellers who have long-standing and repeated USDA violations of the Animal Welfare Act and/or have been convicted of animal cruelty.   The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions contends that the regulation and inspection of commercial breeders by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Service is insufficient, but by selling directly to the public (through auctions) breeders can avoid regulation.  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. 

"One of the most common complaints about the USDA from the humane community," O'Connor-Shaver says, "is that breeders can have repeated and longstanding violations but continue to sell hundreds of puppies to pet stores.  That was made painfully clear in the recent APHIS Audit where investigators found that first-time violators were rarely penalized, even for more serious violations, and repeat offenders were often let off the hook as well. The agency also gave some breeders a second chance to correct their actions even when they found animals dying or suffering, delaying confiscation of the animals."

As part of this audit, investigators visited 68 dog breeders and dog brokers in eight states, including five from Holmes County, which serves as home to the Ohio Dog Auctions.  The report referenced one licensed Ohio breeder who had no veterinary qualifications, but had operated on a pregnant dog without anesthesia.  The breeder further delayed calling a veterinarian and the dog bled to death.

The inspector also found that 40 percent of the dogs in that kennel were blind due to an outbreak of Leptospirosis and determined that the facility's contaminated water had caused the outbreak. Four months later, a subsequent inspection continued to document violations at the facility, reporting "…This is a veterinary care issue that continues to be a serious problem.  ...Failure to provide adequate veterinary care for over 200 adult dogs."

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 in the best interest of purebred dogs.

The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, a Political Action Committee (PAC), is comprised of numerous individuals, many of which are professional breeders and farmers. The group has the support of many highly-respected animal welfare organizations including the Athens County Humane Society, Capital Area Humane Society, Cleveland Animal Protective League, Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village, The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia, Humane Society of Delaware County, Erie Shores Humane Society, Huron County Humane Society, Lake Humane Society, Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League, Ohio State University Buckeyes for Canines, PAWS Ohio, Toledo Area Humane Society, Animal Law Coalition, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Best Friends Animal Society.

SOURCE Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions