COLUMBUS — A bill seven years in the making to crack down on so-called “puppy mills” in Ohio is headed for Gov. John Kasich’s desk.
By a vote of 32-1, the state Senate ratified changes made by the House to Senate Bill 130, which attempts to deal with Ohio’s reputation as a haven for disreputable large-scale dog-breeding businesses that have been run out of states with much stricter regulation.
“By passage of this bill we’re sending a message that all bad breeders are not welcome in Ohio … ’’ said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Hughes (R., Columbus). “This has been seven and a half years for me. It’s a good start needed to get the black eye away from Ohio as far as puppy mills.”
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols confirmed the governor will sign the bill into law.
This time around, dog breeders, animal-rights activists, farmers, and others brokered a compromise capable of passing both chambers. The final bill, watered down from the version the Senate passed earlier this year, would set up a board to advise the state’s director of agriculture in developing standards for the health, caging, grooming, and other care of dogs, 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.
The sole negative vote was from Sen. Keith Faber (R., Celina), who said he preferred the original Senate version. He questioned the fees added in the House version.
“Also, a constituent had voiced concerns about the impact on the [dog] rescue organizations,” he said. “All things considered, with the limited time to look at it, I felt more comfortable not supporting it.”
A last-minute effort failed to convince the Senate not to bring the bill to a final vote as long as new restrictions on dog rescue and foster-care systems are still attached. The bill requires such operations to register with the state and provide certain documentation as part of that process.
“Unlike high-volume breeders and dog retailers, there is no credible evidence produced by any state or federal regulatory agency that has concluded there is a problem with animal rescues for dogs in Ohio that requires the need for this provision to be placed in the bill,” reads a sample letter to lawmakers circulated by Mary O’Connor-Shaver of Columbus Top Dogs.
“Including animal rescues for dogs in legislation whose intent is to address large-scale, ‘puppy mill’ breeding operations will be onerous on nonprofit rescues that rely on a network of volunteer foster homes,” the letter reads.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.