By Elise Franco
The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions says it won’t back down until its goal is accomplished.
Mary O’Connor Shaver, coalition treasurer, said a petition to ban dog auctions in the state needs 120,700 signatures by Dec. 1 to be considered by the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate and to have the issue placed on the November 2011 ballot.
“The bill will go first to the state Legislature, which will have four months to vote it into law,” O’Connor Shaver said. If the Legislature fails to act, “we’re not going to stop until this issue is taken to the voters,” she added.
About 50 people, including state and county officials, attended an informational meeting Wednesday at Angels for Animals in Beaver Township, where O’Connor Shaver shared insights on puppy mills and dog auctions.
“These aren’t reputable breeders who care about the welfare of the dog. They’re in it for the profit,” she said. “Many of these breeders have longstanding, repeated violations.”
She said she attended the Ohio Buckeye Dog Auction in Farmerstown in October 2009 and was appalled.
“Many of these dogs were severely underweight, had mange and were aggressive,” she said. “What I saw was despicable — dogs that were shaking because they’d clearly never been outside their cages.”
Dr. Donald Allen, a Boardman veterinarian, said he’s dealt with pets bred in puppy mills and sold at dog auctions for years.
“When someone comes in to me with their dog, I tell them that puppy mills aren’t about quality,” he said. “It’s hard to educate people.”
Dr. Allen said many dog owners will buy what they believe is a purebred dog from a commercial pet store for upward of $1,000, though the store likely purchased the dog from an auction for only $25 to $50.
Tari Kridler, of Kridler’s German shepherds, said reputable breeders care about the dogs’ genetics. It’s not about making a profit, but about breeding a quality, healthy dog, she said.
“Each dog has a set of standards, and it’s not easy,” the 20-year shepherd breeder said. “That kind of development doesn’t happen by putting any two German shepherds together.”
Kridler said buyers at dog auctions don’t ever see the puppy’s parents or siblings. They don’t see any defects or potential diseases that the dog may have or develop due to poor care or inbreeding.
State Rep. Ron Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said it could be a long, hard road for the coalition to get its bill passed.
Gerberry said he’s seen two puppy-mill bills fail during his time in the House.
“Your approach in getting signatures is aggressive but difficult,” he said. “This is a controversial piece of legislation.”
Gerberry said he and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, are glad to have attended the informational meeting Wednesday and will do what they can to assist in the coalition’s goal.
O’Connor Shaver said she’s aware of the challenges, but she won’t be deterred.
“It’s not so much that [legislators] are for puppy mills,” she said. “Unfortunately, strong influences sway them in a direction that’s not always so good.”
The activist said the coalition will continue to push the bill until it’s adopted as law.
“The breeders hate that,” she said. “They want us to quit, but we won’t.”