By Marc Kovac
The chairman of a state Senate committee considering long-debated legislation to regulate Ohio’s dog breeders said he would take no further action on the bill unless the two sides of the issue make headway on a compromise.
Sen. Cliff Hite, a Republican from Findlay, made the comments before the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee had yet another hearing on Senate Bill 130, legislation that has been in the Statehouse for more than five years without final action.
“I’m going to tell you, I’m not fed up, but I’m close,” Hite told committee members Thursday. “I want some type of common ground that we can come closer to.”
SB 130 would require higher-volume dog breeders to obtain state licenses and meet care and housing standards for their animals. Annual licensing fees would range from $150-$750, depending on the number of litters sold.
The legislation includes more than 30 specific requirements related to animal care, and it would allow regular and unannounced inspections of breeders’ properties.
Individuals who fail to meet the proposed requirements could face criminal and civil penalties.
Proponents believe the changes in state law are needed because current regulations are inadequate, allowing puppy breeders to operate without proper oversight to ensure animals are humanely treated.
“For goodness sake, we license dump-truck drivers in this state,” said Kellie DiFrischia, who heads a Columbus nonprofit that rescues and finds homes for abandoned or abused dogs. “Shouldn’t we be protecting our dogs?”
Opponents counter that breeders who are treating their animals well and following federal care standards shouldn’t be penalized with burdensome and expensive regulations.
SB 130 is the latest version of legislation on the issue that has been circulating in the Statehouse for several sessions. The Ohio House approved a comparable bill several years ago, but the legislation has never gained sufficient support in both chambers.