Ohio’s dog auctions should be banned



As an individual whose family members include farmers and breeders, it is my firm belief reporter Chris Kick has chosen to ignore the legitimate concerns of Ohio voters, and the perspectives and expertise of respected animal welfare scientists and veterinary experts, as a means in which to boost circulation for Farm and Dairy (“Holmes County in the dog house?”, May 27, 2010.)

The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions is not, as one source claimed, an “animal rights activist group which thinks animals should not be controlled by humans.” We are a group comprised of over 12,000 supporters from 72 counties, many who are breeders, farmers and residents of Holmes County, who believe the Ohio dog auctions are a symptom of the puppy mill industry.

Many of us stood in partnership with the Ohio Farmer’s Union in opposition to Issue 2, for reasons outlined in OFU’s official position statement on this ballot initiative.

At no time have I or any committee member or supporter of the coalition stated that livestock auctions will be our next focus. The coalition was formed as a Political Action Committee (PAC) specifically for our ballot initiative, the Ohio Dog Auctions Act. We have no plans now or in the future to address livestock auctions.

The coalition firmly believes, based on a review of dozens of USDA reports issued on the current owner of the Ohio Dog Auction, past owner of the Ohio Dog Auction and breeders who have consigned and purchased dogs at this auction, that these events serve as a major distribution channel for breeders who have multiple USDA violations of the Animal Welfare Act and have been convicted of animal cruelty.

The coalition fully supports the strategy adopted by the business and political leaders of Geauga County in addressing the Buckeye Dog Auction following its sale to Middlefield Township-based Bylerville Enterprises LLC in March 2007.

Following tremendous pressure from voters of Geauga County, which included concerns of an economic threat to local commerce, the auction was sold back to Holmes County within 120 days following its initial sale.

A meeting on May 18 with the Holmes County Humane Society board of directors does not substantiate any remarks or opinions expressed by its board president, Donna Norfolk.

The presentation, which included a review of the goals, mission statement and objectives of our ballot initiative, was well received by all attendees of the society and included a request for petitions in support of our signature drive.

In a recent poll conducted by The Daily Record, a paper whose circulation includes hundreds of readers from Holmes and surrounding counties, the question was asked, “Do you feel dog auctions should be allowed to continue to operate?” A resounding 92 percent of 1,714 respondents voted “No”.

Mary O’Connor-Shaver
Lewis Center, Ohio


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  1. We stand at a crossroad. What will be the outcome? Empathy for our beloved four-legged friends or turning a blind eye to their continued suffering and abuse? I am praying that good will prevail and dogs everywhere will be treated with respect AND protected by Ohio state law.

  2. We have an opportunity right now to help have a say! The proposed Ohio “Puppy Mill Bill” passed its Ohio Senate Committee on Tuesday! It’s ready to be sent to the entire state Senate for a vote, and we need to encourage the committee members to pass it out, immediately, and for our own senators to vote FOR it!

    It contains modest but important regulations for these high volume breeders, and a phase-out of dog auctions in Ohio, also.

    See http://www.columbusdogconnection.com for links to your own senator’s office. Four years of work on this bill can come to fruition this week.

  3. sb 95 may be out of committee but it is still opposed by many rescues and breeders, including the akc (they’re still asking for more changes). we read bills before we call our senators to vote on them. this bill hasn’t been heard in the house and hb124 has been assigned to the agriculture committee. need i say more? why are we confusing dogs with livestock?

  4. Animal agriculture covers a broad range of animals bred for specific purposes including dogs. Laws covering agricultural activities will ripple out in time to affect other types of animal agriculture. The funny thing about laws and words is that it is tricky biz to make sure they achieve the goal intended.

  5. Thank you, Mary, for all of your hard work and persistence and for your clarifications in this editorial.

    I agree that Chris Kick’s agenda was clearly NOT to educate or inform, but rather to editorialize, and it would seem logical that his goal was to boost readership. (Isn’t that the primary reason reporters twist details and create misleading headlines?) It is unfortunate that Farm and Dairy’s Editor did not catch, or choose to ignore, the nature of Mr. Kick’s “news report”.

    Regarding maggie b: Please correct me, if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that OH law now categorizes “companion animals” separate from “livestock”. It is sad that it took this state so long to reach even that conclusion, i.e., that dogs and cows are different animals, but that division should allow the clear separation of “livestock” and “companion animals” in determining humane treatment standards.

    While I support animal welfare whole-heartedly, we do not sell dogs for food consumption, so there must be a dividing line. Cattle, pigs, and chickens are in the food supply. The health, safety, and nutrition of food, when discussing livestock, are concerns that parallel, and are intertwined with, humane treatment of those animals. A lot of people in this country (I’m not one of them) consume livestock, so it makes perfect sense that they must be treated differently.

    The truly sad reality we face, regardless of which political plane we are standing on, is that the root of the issue is BIG $$$, and there is little the wealthy and powerful will NOT do to protect their hoards of gold. Mary and the rest of that crew have demonstrated what DEMOCRACY is about, and I applaude their spirit, dedication, and personal sacrifices to bring justice to one part of the world.

    I hope others will follow their brave example and stand up against the tide, because it’s about to turn (regardless of Chris Kick’s attempts to obscure the issue . . . we can only hope that the second part of that article will reflect balance and research, rather than Mr. Kick’s personal opinions, which, btw Editor, belong in THIS column.

  6. Auctioning dogs is the way to get more dogs to people that love them. If the dog is sick it will not sell. A vet checks them before they sells. That is who decides if a dog sells. What has dog auctions have to do with puppy mills ? What is a puppy mill ?

  7. Guernie,

    I am sorry to inform you that your understanding of the complex world of dog breeding and rescue is quite naive and superficial. As a dog rescuer and Canine Communication Specialist of 5+ years, and with 50+ rescues no longer suffering torturous existences after my intervention (always with the help of others), I still feel like a novice. I, have, however, worked hard to understand the web of connections, agendas, and human issues, involved in that world and am happy to enlighten you.

    Just when I think there is little or no hope of stopping the swelling dog population, a glimmer of light gleams thru the keyhole and brightens an entire wall, so I go on, fighting the good fight. The “good fight”, in this case, is the one that puts puppy mills, backyard, and designer breeders out of business.

    You ask what is a “puppy mill”. A puppy miller mass-produces puppies, keeping them in kennels or cages, often standing on wire bottoms, un-exercised, un-socialized, alone, and afraid. Many end up with diseases due to careless breeding and/or untended vet care.

    Guernie, you also mentioned that you believe vets must watch carefully over the shoulders of puppy millers and people like dog auctioneer Harold Neuhart. As tightly as we might cross our fingers and toes in hope, that is sadly not the case at all. There is plenty of documentation to prove that dog abuse and neglect are not isolated incidents and that inspectors and veterinarians charged with the responsibility of overseeing and reporting abuse are often not doing their jobs competently, thoroughly, or honestly. The reason there are not prosecutions relates to our broken judicial system. The world you describe is the one we wish we could honestly describe as our own, but things just don’t work the way they are supposed to work. Humans seeking profit, with a lot of money at stake, are involved, so corruption runs deep. Like any other commodity, puppies are cheaper to produce, and it is more cost-effective, if you make more of them, sell the best and destroy the others. (That is the mind of a puppy miller. The Hunte Corporation is an excellent example of a nasty puppy mill. One of his main outlets is PetLand, a store to boycott religiously.)

    Given the results of the undercover investigation recently completed at his auction in Holmes County, not to mention his violent reaction to the cameraman, we have yet another example of evidence that stands ignored. (Harold Neuhart assaulted the cameraman but was never charged. You do get how that works, right?)

    USDA inspectors and the veterinarians you point to, often lack the resources to do a thorough job or, for other reasons I cannot really fathom, do not report the abuse, even though it is well-documented. Many, many, many other accounts exist describing puppies purchased by rescuers to save them from the hell Neuhart and his puppy millers put them through. The accounts discuss solid evidence of horrifying abuse and neglect, and they are multiple and diverse, shared by a broad cross-section of rescuers and people who purchased dogs or puppies at the auction.

    The good news, Guernie, is that, although the web humans have created to manage dogs in our counties is complex, the problem, and solution, really are not. There are WAY WAY WAY too many dogs for the number of responsible and compassionate humans willing to share their lives and provide the leadership and rest of what they need to live fulfilled lives. It only takes a little simple math to figure out the equation: Every 6 years, a single female dog and her litter of pups can produce another 67000 puppies (assuming they are not overbred. That’s only one person’s bitch that does that. In other words, you, alone, with a single dog, every 6 years, can make 67,000 more of them. What if a few of your neighbors join in the fun? See any potential problems looming on the horizon? Shelter workers and rescuers sure do. Even reputable breeders get it. They are just not willing to find a new livelihood.

    You see, Guernie, reputable rescuers are all about sacrificing for dogs. Reputable breeders, particularly those aiming to profit from the lives they use, are about profit. Thus, we approach the problem with very different agendas, even though most of us want to see every dog that exists in a good home. Emotions run hot when passionate people are involved, and little gets done. It is so sad, because, if we worked together, we could easily begin to decrease the number of dogs over-flowing shelters and rescues.

    The consequences of us continuing to allow this problem to spiral out of control are also pretty obvious and straight forward. Humdreds of thousands (if not millions) of dogs who would make awesome companions, are put to death each year. Many of them die in horrifying circumstances, terrorized and discarded like trash. Others, like those in my county, are at least spared the humiliation and pain (emotional and physical) of a gas chamber, heartstick, or bullet. They are “humanely” euthanized, and I know, for a fact, that the staff involved in that dreadful activity in Montgomery County are compassionate and do their job with as much tenderness as possible. The thought of other, compassionate humans (in far too short supply) repeatedly enduring that sadness is heart-wrenching. How can we do this, not only to a species as incredible as canines; how can we do it to such a generous part of our own population?

    Auctioning a dog, which means selling it to the highest bidder, is a highly irresponsible practice that results in dogs going to un-checked homes. The only qualification the person needs is outbidding other interested parties. These people are not checked. No one makes sure they are not criminals with violent backgrounds, irresponsible in the care of other animals already in their homes, planning to tie them on a chain in a backyard to be soon forgotten, or sold as bait dogs to dog fighters. There are plenty of people who harm animals, because they are emotionally imbalanced or have never learned to value and respect all life. There are just as many who take a cute or pathetic looking puppy home, because they feel sorry for the cute face and sad eyes. When it turns out they are unprepared to handle the dog, s/he ends up in a shelter, unless lucky enough to escape into the arms of a rescuer. (I want to note that there are breeders who do also rescue dogs. Odd, but true.)

    I urge every Ohioan who cares about dogs to sign the petition to ban the Ohio dog auction. Your support will help put the dog auction out of business. I think Mr. Neuhart has profited far too much already on the lives of the innocent. It is time for him to start giving back. The Piper comes to collect from us all, sooner or later, and he comes (or should come) for those with the most to give first.

    Hopefully, Guernie, you have a better understanding of why puppy mills are really evil capitalistic enterprises and what you can do to stop the mass-producing of puppies.

  8. That is not true Ms. O’Connor-Shaver, you publicly stated at the Holmes county Library “open house” which I was in attendance at that your next goal was to stop all auctions in Ohio.
    Everyone should also know that you jumped all over one group of people that where there to hear what you had to say and told them they were not welcome the second they walked into the room. If you have nothing to hide and only speak the truth in your “open house” meetings, then you should not be worried about who belongs to what group, whether they are in support or not. An open house is open to everyone, last time I checked.
    All you are doing is giving HSUS another stepping stone into our State to dictate what we can and cannot have and how it will “cared” for.

    L. Campbell


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