Posted: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

723 counts of cruelty filed in ‘puppy mill’ case


The owners of an alleged Shelby County puppy mill and their son each have been charged with 241 counts of animal cruelty stemming from the Nov. 17 raid on Pedigree Pets.

Deputies said they found dogs and pups living in horrid conditions and many were sick, emaciated and had visible infections and sores.

The accused are Dave and Rhonda Auton, owners of Pedigree Pets, 8350 Tawawa-Maplewood Road, Maplewood, Ohio, and their son, Adam Auton. No immediate word was available as to when the three would have to appear in court on what amounts to 723 criminal counts.

The Ohio SPCA was called to remove the animals and coordinate placement into dog rescues throughout the state. In less than six hours, 15 members of Ohio SPCA Response Team photographed, documented and removed all 241 dogs to safe holding locations.

Veterinarian Dr. Lisa Nadasi, who accompanied deputies and the response team, said she was shocked at the conditions.

“I can’t imagine how anyone with a heart or soul could have walked into that room and not known that these animals were suffering,” Nadasi said.

According to Deputy Cami Frey, the investigation began when she received a complaint from a woman in Michigan who purchased a pup from the Autons.

Noah Turner, Ohio SPCA Response Team leader, said, “Online puppy mills are notorious for depicting their kennels as being wonderful places. In reality, they are massively breeding and housing dogs in cages and hutches for their entire lives. With so many homeless dogs in shelters and rescues, people wanting to add a canine companion to their family must refrain from buying dogs from pet stores and breeders.”

On Sunday, Nov. 18, representatives from dog rescues began picking up the dogs and puppies from the triage location. In less than a week, the dogs have been placed with no-kill rescues and foster homes.

For information on how you can help these dogs or adopt one, visit the Ohio SPCA at


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