Reporting a Puppy Mill or Nuisance Breeder
last updated
Oct 4, 2012

The following information is intended to give the average person a starting point with which to report a puppy mill or nuisance breeder.  The definition of a puppy mill can vary according to who you ask, but in general, a puppy mill has many dogs in poor conditions with little to no vet care.  A back yard breeder/nuisance breeder is a person who is breeding dogs (smaller scale than a puppy mill) for monetary gain and is not interested in the betterment of the breed.   This information has been collected by talking with the agencies listed, writing to state agencies and reporting puppy mills/back yard breeders and brokers to the agencies.  If you know of something that should be listed, please email me the info and I will add it. 

Columbus Dog

Puppy mills continue to exist because they find ways around rules and laws.  The best plan of attack in reporting a puppy mill is to report them to every agency that can and will inspect, fine, or suspend them.  It seems the only way to “shut them down" is to
have them answer to all the agencies that can have a say in their business.  The reason you must report them to all state agencies is because Ohio does not regulate the dog breeding business.  Therefore, the only way to shut them down is to report them to each agency that has some authority to inspect some aspect of what they are doing.  Reputable breeders and high volume breeders have nothing to fear if they are breeding humanly.

The information on this page has been ridiculed by the Ohio Assn of Animal Owners.  This organization, which claims to protect animals, actually is in the business of protecting their own rights to use animals anyway they see fit.  They oppose most legislation having to do with anything to protect any animals.  They even oppose cock fighting regulation.   The reason they are even mentioned here is because of their use of this very page during testimony on the current legislation regarding kennel legislation.  Sadly, some people are under the impression they are protecting the interest of animals. In fact, they typically sit with and attend meetings with known high volume breeders from the Ohio Amish area who have USDA report cards with a laundry list of violations.  Birds of a feather?

This information is based on laws in Ohio.  Ohio has the weakest humane laws of any state in the country.  If you are reading from another state, you will want to explore the “humane laws” of your state as they may be able to do more than our laws, but this is a general list that should apply.  You may have different agency names and your state may have a different reporting system than you see listed here.

When a raid is physically over, your next best move is to have a lawyer ready to present the county prosecutor with evidence and information from as many county and state agencies as possible.  Your goal now is to seek immediate release of guardianship of the dogs/pups from the mill.  Likely, a miller is going to fight you to get the dogs just took their cash crop and they will want all or some of the dogs back.  This is where timing is important.  You will want to show the miller and the prosecutor
as many of the following agencies are going to be pursuing some action.  Hopefully, feeling pressured, the miller will release guardianship of the dogs.  You can then begin spaying/neutering and adopting them out.  If this drags into a court case, you will likely be looking at several months until the dogs can be adopted out.  Even then, the possibility exists that you will have to return some/all of the dogs.

This is the list of agencies to report the puppy mill to.  You should follow this order in reporting them.  The reason to follow the order is that the goal is to permanently shut them down.  Mills are in the industry to make money.  They make money because they have the ability to say their dogs are “AKC”.  You want the first agency involved to be the agency that can do the greatest amount of damage to the operation.  The AKC has that power.

Report to
1   AKC (American Kennel Club)
2   Local Humane Society
Fraud in Ohio  (typically, a person on public assistance can not have an income, or there are limits to the income they can have
     Ohio Dept of Taxation  
     County Treasurer
     Worker's Compensation  
     Disability Services
     Welfare/Health Care/Medicaid

4   County Dept of Health
5   State Dept of Agriculture
6  State Dept of Environmental Protection (EPA)
    State Dept of Natural Resources
7   Zoning Commission
8   Attorney General’s Office
9   County Auditor’s Office (kennel license or individual license and vendor's license, must have both to sell dogs)
10   USDA   (only licenses commercial breeders, which means those who sell to pet stores or brokers)
                  view inspection reports of OH USDA breeders

11.  The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) Tip Line  1-877-Mill-Tip  (877-645-5847)  $5000 rewards offered

Dog description form to assist you when government agencies take over puppy mill situations.
This form is meant to be printed on one piece of paper, on front and back.

Fax a report to         Investigations & Inspections
                                 The American Kennel Club
5580 Centerview Dr  Raleigh NC  27606
                                 919-816-4245 fax                      
919-233-9767 phone

The AKC is the best first place to report a mill.  Here’s why:
The mills make money by selling “AKC” dogs.  If they can not sell AKC dogs, their business will decline…hopefully dramatically enough to force them out of business for a while.  The AKC is the only agency that can “knock on their door” and ask for immediate entry.  If the puppy miller does not allow them in, this is an automatic suspension.  No further questions asked.

If the puppy miller lets the AKC in, the inspector will see that all AKC rules are being followed.  If minor infractions are apparent, the miller may get written warnings and advised to clean up and/or rectify paper records.  If the inspector finds discrepancies in paper work and/or housing, the miller can still be suspended.  If suspended, the miller must rectify all situations and invite the AKC back at a cost to the miller. The best way to report way to report a miller to the AKC is by faxing a first person account of what was seen at the property.
Things to note when reporting a puppy miller:
-Is the address the same on the papers as the address you visit the dog at?
-Is the name of the person on the papers the same as the name of the person showing you the dogs?  If not, ask what the relationship of the two people are. If a person is suspended from AKC, they are to have no contact with breeding/selling AKC dogs
-Are adult male dogs housed in the same enclosure as female dogs?
-Is there any standing urine/feces?
-Did you see any food/water?
-Did they have shelter?
-Are there any injuries, open sores on dogs or pups?
-How did you find out about the pups available for adoption?  - what paper? what date? -Were they advertised as AKC pups?
-Get complete address of location of pups.
-Get names of anyone living at the residence, including maiden names of any women involved.  Get spelling of last names. If a son in law or friend is living at the residence, try to get their names.  (puppy millers register litters with different names, different addresses to hide the paper trail, a name as simple as Smith, could be registered as Smith or Smithe…millers become clever).

Note the street name for spelling and other names: example High Street is the same as Rt 23.

Once you fax a report, the AKC will determine, from your statements, if a surprise inspection is warranted.  Stating facts, dates, physical descriptions is the best way to get an inspection.  If the inspection takes place and the conditions warrant a call to local humane agents, the AKC will make the this again is why it is best to involve the AKC first.  A dog warden may be more inclined to investigate upon the advice of the AKC rather than a concerned citizen of the county.

2 County Dog Warden and/or Humane Society
Abuse, neglect can be reported to your county dog warden or humane society.  Ohio law is weak as far as basic needs of a companion animal.  If a dog has shelter, food and water, this is adequate care according to current Ohio revised code.  If a dog is in need of medical attention, you can also call the local police dept. Often times, dog wardens will issues warnings with time given to rectify a situation.  Sometimes it is  advantageous to keep in direct contact with dog wardens as they are busy with many situations and a  gentle reminder that you are inquiring about the status is sometimes needed.   If conditions are bad, urge the dog warden to file charges.  If the warden is reluctant, speak with your county prosecuting office. They are next in line to file charges.  There are situations that wardens may be aware of and perhaps may not pursue due to limited resources.  Busting a puppy mill is an overwhelmingly large job, lots of dogs to deal with, where will  you house them, the legalities of removing the dogs, the follow up investigation etc...  This is a stressful situation and some counties may not have the facilities and/or man power to handle the amount of work.  
3 Fraud     sample letter
  State of Ohio Dept  of Taxation         
Ohio Tax Fraud 800-757-6091 for general information.
Report puppy millers or nuisance breeders/back yard breeders for Tax Fraud.  According to Ohio Revised Code, 5739.01(F), anyone engaged in an activity with the object of gain, benefit or advantage, either direct or indirect should have a license and collect tax.  In speaking with the tax department, this would not apply to mix breed dogs.  It is a misdemeanor for not collecting sales tax.  It is a felony 5 for collecting and not reporting it.  Not claiming income is felony.  You must have a vendor’s license to collect tax.  Vendor’s licenses are issued by the county auditor.  Best case scenario is that when you report a miller/back yard breeder, the criminal investigations unit will be able to follow up and press charges, give fines and sometimes collect back taxes.  Sometimes the dept of investigations will hand the investigation over to the civil tax department and the person reported will be audited.  The penalties may be less severe, but hopefully this will be a deterrent to breed again.   

If you suspect a miller or breeder, a great way to keep track is to keep copies of the Sunday Classifieds.  You will greatly help your case when you report it if you can provide copies of ads that list pure breed dogs for sale.  This will give the tax investigator an idea of how much tax this person may owe.  Ohio is divided in 4 quadrants that cover criminal investigations of fraud. 

Can be reported via email at

Cincinnati  OH Dept Taxation, Attn Enforcement Div   1150 W 8th St  Suite 253 Cincinnati  45202    513-852-3313
Adams, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Darke, Fayette, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Logan, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Pickaway, Preble, Ross, Shelby,  Union, Warren            

Cleveland    OH Dept Taxation, Attn Enforcement Div   615 W Superior Ave  Cleveland 44113          216-787-3123
Ashtabula, Ashland, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Erie, Geauga, Cuyahoga, Holmes, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Wayne

Columbus     OH Dept Taxation, Attn Enforcement Div 800 Freeway Dr  Columbus 43220             614-466-6939
Athens, Belmont, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Licking, Meigs, Morgan, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Scioto, Washington, Vinton
Toledo  OH Dept Taxation, Attn Enforcement Div  One Gov Center  Suite 1450,  Toledo  43604   419-245-2613
Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Marion, Mercer, Morrow, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood, Wyandot

County Taxes Report to Your County Treasurer
Franklin County Treasurer
373 S High St 17th Fl
Columbus OH  43215

Ohio County Information


*If you suspect that a nuisance breeder/puppy miller is on any public assistance, report them for fraud

-Worker's Compensation        800-OHIO-BWC  
option 4, option 5
-Disability Services               800-282-4536
-Welfare/Health/Medicaid    614-462-7111

4  Dept of Health  
Dept of Health is organized by counties but sometimes organized by cities or combined counties in rural areas.  
If you don't see your county, look under the largest nearby city.  Ask for Environmental Division, find your Dept of Health on line at  or go to "site map" then "local health depts".
Dept of Health can investigate standing water, urine, feces, unhealthy living conditions which could include holes in walls, trash, filth, cat and dog carcasses.  Will investigate both inside and outside situations.  If tenants won't allow the Health Inspector in, they will contact sheriff's office for assistance.      
Ohio County Information

 5  State Dept of Agriculture      
Animal Industry Division 614-728-6220 728-6310 fax   phone or fax a complaint
 According to Ohio Revised Code 955.50 (A), pups cannot be bought for resell that are less than 8 weeks of age.  This would apply when a broker or store is buying from a breeder or puppy mill or back yard breeder then re-selling to a pet store.  If you see pups for sale in a retail store or by a broker that are less than 8 wks of age, report that store, broker and breeder.  Dept of Ag will also investigate large animal carcasses, but not cat or dog carcasses. (That would be the Dept of Health).  **Note   be sure to ask the person taking your report that you would like this to be an anonymous report.  You can still leave your name/contact info, but unless you specify an "anonymous" report, your report becomes public record and can be shared with those you are reporting.

State Dept of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  
   investigates dumping of animal (or human) waste in waterways
   John Bernstein   614-728-2397
   -also contact local police for littering (Ohio does not allow anything to be dumped in water ways)
 7  Zoning Commission
Typically handled by townships, cities and sometimes counties.  Zoning could be involved when it is against zoning to run a business from a property. If you are breeding/selling AKC dogs, you must have a vendor's license and collect tax.
Ohio County Information

 8  Attorney General's Office   800-282-0515
      On line complaint form
 Once you click on above link, go to Quick Links drop down menu, click on line consumer complaints, click complaint and complete application.
File a complaint with this office if you have purchased a puppy and have health issues that should have either been mentioned when you bought the pup or resolved amicably with the pet store or breeder.  Be sure to read your warranty and return policy.

County Auditor's Office
 If a person is breeding dogs professionally or for hunting stock, and that person does not license each  of those dogs (over 3 months), they must have a kennel license. This is a weak way to report a puppy mill/nuisance breeder but just another agency "knocking" on their door  to collect their (small) kennel fee license.  It seems that no one really revokes a kennel license even when a person/mill is found guilty.  The judge will typically forbid people from having dogs for a period of time.
Ohio County Information
The county auditor also issues vendor's license.  Franklin Co OH Vendor check done at 614-462-3260, best to have street address and full legal name.  Also have names of others living at the location. 
10  USDA Info
      United States Dept of Ag does not seem to be an agency that will respond in a timely manner.
Lists of active licensed and registered facilities   (click this link on the USDA page for all licensed facilities listed by
       state and by alphabetical order.  Gives name of owner and address and name of kennel if there is one. 
 Logistics on Puppy Mill Raid Day     

Dog description  form to be used to document dogs removed from property

Coordinators  It is helpful to have 1-2 people who are the overall coordinators of the day.  When the humane officers or police dept need to communicate what actions should be taken, the coordinators should be your spokesperson.

Meeting Place
All volunteers and media should meet at a location near the puppy mill and arrive at the mill together.  Instructions should be given to all volunteers and media at this time.  Advise volunteers that no one should talk with puppy miller  (tempers could flare & removal of  dogs needs to be the focus)  tell volunteers how the next few hours will look

Removal of Dogs
  the same 3-4 people will remove dogs from enclosures, (vet techs in scrubs gives great visual credibility for TV reports that can later be used in court) vet techs transfer dog to another person who will hold for picture and assist with verbal communication to person who is doing paper documentation, dog is then placed in transport crate) 
-you should have 2 people writing up the dog descriptions, 1 person taking pictures (use index cards numbered 1-100 or more and have index card in picture with the dog, tear index card after use so it is not reused) take extra pictures of health issues
-Remove dogs breed by breed so that all the “dachshunds” are removed, documented and can get on their way

  Before the raid takes place, arranged for the media to be there with you.  Ideally, a reporter and photographer from the big newspaper and a camera person and reporter from a TV station (having reporters from both tv and print media will spread the “news” more thoroughly)  note that Channel 10 and The Columbus Dispatch are owned by the same company
-Always hold a dog from the mill if you are being interviewed.  Select the dogs in the most severe conditions to highlight

-Instruct all rescues to take photos upon arrival at their vet office
-Take pictures of medications on location (to document what vet is dispensing) Law Enforcement should take drugs as evidence
-Not necessary to have vet on location, dogs in serious health crisis should be immediately transported anyway
-Have a special medical form for all the vets to complete this will assist you when the case goes to court, scanning 100 plus forms for info is easier when using a standardized form
-have your reaction to the raid as prepared as possible BEFORE the raid (have web site page and hotline ready to be published/updated with info on who to contact, how to donate, adoption status, what supplies are needed, how to contact breed specific rescue groups involved)  The media coverage will bombard you with info seekers
-if pure breed rescue is not involved, send all “poodles” to the same group, easier for documentation and referral for adoptions  
-park several vehicles in drive way/entrance way to property  (this will help prevent anyone from driving up and getting in your face before you have a chance to know what is going on.  During the Morrow County Puppy Mill, the puppy millers brother drove his pick up passed our vehicles and police car up to our set up tent and waved a loaded gun at us) 
-if possible, x-ray all females after they have been with you for 5 weeks.  This will tell you if they are pregnant
-bring people first aid kit, change of clothes, shoes for those in the trenches