NEW STANDARDS were set for puppy mills and dog breeders thanks to an Ohio law that went into effect Jan 1. Puppy mills are known as large-scale commercial breeding facilities that often place more emphasis on making a profit than on the welfare of the animals.
Unfortunately, pet stores are filled with puppies from mills. The ASPCA and the Humane Society both encourage adopting a pet from a shelter, or going to a local reputable dog breeder to see where your pet is actually coming from. Be wary of breeders who will not reveal where their dogs are kept.
The dog breeding industry came under some regulation with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, but abuse continues to taint the industry's image. The new law requires dog breeders who produce at least nine litters and at least 60 dogs in a year to get a state license, costing anywhere from $150 to $750 depending on the number of animals. People who sell to pet stores after buying from breeders, sometimes known as dog retailers, are also now required to get an annual license costing $500. People who fail to obtain the required licensing will be subject to fines and penalties if they do not comply. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty within the last 20 years will be prohibited from getting a license.
The number of breeders who will be licensed is currently unknown, but 300 people have already identified themselves as high-volume breeders who will be affected by the legislation. 13 license applications have been completed, and approximately 100 are in progress, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture.
In addition to licensing requirements, the new legislation requires that kennels are properly ventillated with temperature controls, sheltered from weather, and kept clean. Breeders are required to undergo background checks and have insurance. They must also have a working relationship with a veterinarian to care for their animals.
The bill created a Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board, which will help the Department of Agriculture director set standards for dog breeders.
State Senator Lou Gentile remarked that the legislation began after Ohio started to develop a bad reputation for having lax regulations on high-volume dog breeders.
"The bill is aimed at high-volume dog breeders to put some common-sense regulation into the laws. It was really an effort to send a signal to bad dog breeders across the state that we take this issue seriously...I think this bill is a step in the right direction, " Gentile said. "If you're going to be a dog breeder in Ohio, you're going to have to comply and get a license."
The program will be regulated by four inspectors hired by the Department of Agriculture, who will conduct routine inspections. The legislation has been in the works for over seven years, and the bill was actually passed back in March of 2013, but rules about cages and other standards had to go though the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review before licensing was finally set for Jan 1.
Warner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.