COLUMBUS — After seven years of infighting and roadblocks, a bill cracking down on so-called puppy mills in Ohio moved swiftly through the state House of Representatives on Wednesday with no one speaking against it and just five lawmakers pushing the “no” button.
Senate Bill 130 passed 89-5 and is expected to win final approval in the Senate after Thanksgiving recess.
“A lot of stakeholders had to build trust with each other,” said state Rep. Dave Hall (R., Millersburg), who guided the bill to the floor as chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
“That’s something that wasn’t there at the beginning … ” he said. “It may be too hot for some members. Some might say it didn’t do enough. … It’s a beginning.”
The bill is aimed at cracking down on large-scale dog breeding businesses that have given the industry a bad name in Ohio, which has a reputation as the place to go when other states slam the kennel door shut.
In the end, breeders, animal-rights activists, veterinarians, farmers, and others reached a compromise that establishes a system of regulating, licensing, and inspecting such operations.
“This is an industry that’s gone unchecked for too long in Ohio,” Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said.
Lame-duck Rep. Bruce Goodwin (R., Defiance), one of the five “no” votes, said he doesn’t see the bill effectively curing the problems it’s supposed to address.
“Instead, I see it creating problems for the folks for are making a living off of it … ” he said after the vote.
“It seems like we’re going to put some people out of business, and I don’t think that’s our job here. I think it was on the table for so long that people finally said, ‘Let’s just make this thing happen,’ without listening to all of the ramifications.”
The bill is considered weaker than a version that emerged from the Senate in February.
It replaces a state board that would have written regulations for dogs’ care with a panel that will advise the director of agriculture as he develops rules, using federal standards as a minimum.
It establishes a scale of annual license fees ranging from $150 for a high-volume breeder selling at least nine litters a year to $750 for one selling at least 46 litters.
Dog retailers who supply pet stores would pay $500.
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