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The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions has collected an additional 4,089 signatures from registered voters on ballot-initiative petitions to outlaw dog auctions, and the Secretary of State's Office said Friday it had received them.
The group initially came up a little short in its quest to obtain 115,570 signatures to put the issue before the House and Senate.
The secretary of state reviewed the 154,082 signatures the coalition's 940 volunteers submitted last month and announced Jan. 10 that 361 more voter signatures are needed to reach the 115,570 -- or 3 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 2010 -- needed to bring the issue before the legislature.
Per the citizen-initiated statute process outlined in the Ohio Constitution, petitioners were given 10 days to collect and submit the required signatures.
"The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions remains steadfast in their commitment to send a strong message to state legislators that dog auctions serve as a major distribution channel for buyers and sellers from 15 states, many of whom have long-standing repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act and/or have been convicted of animal cruelty," Mary O'Connor-Shaver, Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions treasurer, said in a statement.
The secretary of state's office will process and catalog the petitions before shipping them to the county boards of elections, which are to verify that the signatures collected are from qualified electors of Ohio who are registered at the address provided.
Secretary of State Jon Husted has directed boards of election to complete the review by next week.
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As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners must also have collected signatures from at least 44 of Ohio's 88 counties, and within each of those counties collected signatures equal to 1.5 percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2010.
Petitioners met that requirement in the initial filing, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Once the additional signatures are verified by the secretary of state, expected by Jan. 27, legislators will have until May 1 to enact the Ohio Dog Auctions Act. If legislators fail to act to the group's satisfaction, coalition volunteers and paid petition circulators will have to quickly gather 115,570 more voter signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.
The proposal would prohibit dog auctions or raffles for any purpose, according to a draft on the coalition's Web site. It also would make it illegal to bring a dog into the state to sell or trade if the animal was acquired by auction or raffle elsewhere. A first conviction would be punishable by a minor misdemeanor with subsequent offenses ranking as a fourth-degree misdemeanor, according to the proposal. The attorney general would be in charge of enforcement, including prosecution of violations.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: email@example.com or 419-724-6066.