Profits Prized over Puppies at Mt. Hope Auction Swap Meet

Monday, August 14, 2023 - 09:30
Investigation Category: 

Profits Prized over Puppies at Mt. Hope Auction Swap Meet

Suffering of Innocent Animals Highlight Need for Swap Meet Regulation

Animals’ Angels is dedicated to ensuring that all animals are treated humanely, regardless of size or circumstance. We investigate and report all animal abuse and cruelty whether it be perpetrated on a global scale or found at a local community event, such as the Mid-Ohio Swap Meet, which our investigators attended at the Mt. Hope Auction on July 13th.

The swap meet industry is largely unregulated, lacking meaningful animal protection laws. Conditions at local swap meets around the country have long been a concern for advocates who want to end the suffering of the animals sold at these events, including dogs, birds, farm animals, and wild animals.

  1. month’s newsletter focuses on the conditions we witnessed at the swap meet in Mt. Hope and the urgent need for regulation of an industry that brings animal abuse and suffering into many of our local communities.

Suffering on Show at the Swap Meet in Mt. Hope

On an unusually hot and humid summer day in July, Animals’ Angels investigators arrived at the Mt. Hope Auction facility where a wide selection of animals were on sale, including puppies, adult dogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigeons, pheasants, exotic birds, farm animals, and even wild animals, such as skunks and hedgehogs.

Our team immediately noticed animals in cages outside the building, fully exposed to the blazing sun, as well as animals tethered directly to cars.

Many of the poor animals were panting and obviously struggling from the heat with no access to water, and some of the dogs had resorted to crawling under parked vehicles in an effort to escape the brutal sun and heat.

As our investigators observed the vendors set up both outside and inside the buildings, they became increasingly disturbed by what they witnessed and documented, including:

- A man selling puppies out of the trunk of his car. The puppies’ parents were visible in the backseat of the vehicle.

- A man selling skunk babies in a cardboard box without any information as to where the skunks came from, despite an Ohio law requiring anyone selling a skunk to be USDA licensed, including facilities, breeders, dealers, pet stores, private individuals, or brokers. The state also requires a person who purchases a skunk to obtain a permit and inspection by the Department of Natural Resources in order to prove that the skunk did not come from the wild.

- Several puppies for sale with obvious health issues, such as eye or skin infections and overgrown nails. Our investigators suspected that these puppies had been discarded by puppy mills since they were being sold for as little as $25 each and came with no information.

- Sellers allowing buyers to touch and pet all the dogs. Only two sellers required the buyers to use hand sanitizer before touching the puppies. This unsafe practice poses a huge risk of spreading contagious and often deadly diseases.

- A ruthless seller claiming the puppies he was selling were only three weeks old, which is a violation of Ohio law (RC 955.50).

- Several birds stuffed into boxes that were too small. The birds were literally stacked on top of each other, unable to move. Others had their feet or wings stuck in the cage wire and could not get out because other birds were in the way. Many birds were forced to remain in their restricted environment for the duration of the two day event.

State of the Industry: Animal Swap Meets

Swap meets allow people to buy, sell, or trade animals with few restrictions and very little government oversight.

This means that many animals are subjected to appalling conditions, such as being exposed to extreme hot or cold weather, being confined in small or inappropriate spaces or cages, and not receiving adequate veterinary care.

Swap meets can be a breeding ground for disease since animals are not required to be vaccinated, and they often arrive bearing fleas, mange, worms, and diseases that can quickly spread to other animals. In addition, baby animals are frequently put up for sale before they are old enough to be weaned from their mothers.

Only five states (California, Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, and Virginia) have laws that specifically address animal swap meets, while the majority of states and local governments do not have any regulations in place specifically geared to the swap meet industry.

In egregious cases of animal abuse or neglect at swap meets, prosecutors can file general animal cruelty charges, which exist in all fifty states, but prosecution of animal cruelty or neglect is rare and usually left up to local officials who may be unsure which laws apply to swap meets versus pet stores and live markets.

Help Us End Suffering at Swap Meets

As animals continue to suffer under inhumane conditions at local swap meets, animal advocates have been calling for increased regulations and protections.

The State of California previously considered enacting a total ban on the sale of animals at swap meets, but the initiative ultimately failed. Opponents to the ban, including the California Swap Meet Owners Association, insisted that swap meets provide community members with a primary source of income by offering a place to sell, trade, and barter.

California eventually passed legislation that regulates the sale of animals at swap meets (instead of banning the sale altogether), while advocates in other states are calling for similar legislation, hoping to protect all animals at swap meets (not just cats and dogs) by charging meaningful penalties for offenses.

Moving forward, Animals’ Angels encourages our supporters to add their voices and votes to those calling for swap meet regulations and bans as we continue to investigate and expose those who make a profit off the suffering of the innocent animals sold at swap meets.