Eight days. That's the time left to state lawmakers to act on an initiative that would ban dog auctions in Ohio -- all the time left to do the right thing.
Wonder where the puppies come from that are sold in many pet stores and confiscated from puppy mills? Until recently, they often came from dog auctions held in rural Holmes County, which attracted breeders from across the eastern United States.
Animal advocates and reporters who attended the auctions there said they saw puppies in crates stacked on top of each other, urinating and defecating on the ones below them. They said the animals shook with fear, and that some appeared ill, weak, injured, or dirty.
Last year, the Ohio Professional Dog Breeders Association bought Ohio Dog Auction. The group closed down the operation to avoid bad publicity, but defended the practice.
There's "nothing inherently wrong with selling animals at auction," Ohio Association of Animal Owners lobbyist Polly Britton told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this year. She said further regulation is not needed because dog auctions are "well policed."
If so, why does Ohio Dog Auction prohibit cell phones and cameras at its auctions? A Louisville, Ky., TV station reported that some puppies that weren't sold at an auction were killed afterward.
Animal activists call Holmes County the puppy-mill capital of Ohio. The sparsely populated county is home to more than 500 registered -- and an unknown number of unregistered -- breeding kennels, which produce thousands of puppies a year.
The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions picketed for years outside Ohio Dog Auction events. It spent years raising awareness and collecting signatures aimed at banning dog auctions and raffles in the state, and making it illegal to bring dogs to Ohio that were auctioned or raffled in another state.
More than 115,000 Ohio voters signed petitions that said they want state lawmakers to make dog auctions illegal. If the General Assembly fails to act, proponents will have to collect more signatures to have the issue placed on the ballot. Such an election would cost Ohio taxpayers $1 million.
Responsible breeders are not the problem. But Ohio's laws to protect animals are among the weakest in the United States. That has encouraged unscrupulous puppy mills and dog auctions to put profit above the health and temperament of the animals they breed and sell.
Elected lawmakers should not force voters -- again -- to do their job. They should ban dog auctions.
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