By Marc Kovac
Legislation requiring licensing and inspections of large-scale dog breeders passed the Ohio House on Wednesday and likely is heading toward Gov. John Kasich’s desk.
House Bill 130 passed on a vote of 89-5 and requires a concurrence vote in the Ohio Senate before being forwarded to Kasich for his signature.
“I feel that this is a strong bill, and it removes that black eye that Ohio has had on the issue they call puppy mills in this state,” said Rep. Dave Hall, a Republican from Millersburg. He added later, “I think we got it right … it’s a beginning.”
Under the legislation, “high-volume” breeders would be required to obtain a license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture in order to continue operating.
Lawmakers defined “high volume” as those with breeding dogs producing nine litters of puppies and who sell 60 or more dogs annually. Licensing or registration requirements also would be instituted for dog retailers and rescue operations.
Application fees would run from $150-$750, depending on the number of dogs sold in a year. Licenses could be denied to individuals convicted of animal cruelty or animal-fighting crimes in the past 20 years or revoked if breeders mistreat their animals.
The director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture will be responsible for establishing housing, nutrition, exercise and other care standards for breeders, with inspections annually to ensure those standards are being followed. The bill also creates a new commercial dog-breeding advisory board to review related rules.
Proponents believe law changes are needed because existing regulations are inadequate, allowing breeders to operate without proper oversight to ensure animals are humanely treated. More than 30 other states already have regulations in place covering puppy mills.