By Marc Kovac
A state lawmaker panel OK’d more than $222,000 Monday to cover the initial costs of a new program designed to keep tabs on puppy mills.
The Controlling Board signed off on the funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s high-volume breeder-control licensing efforts, created under legislation signed by Gov. John Kasich late last year.
Under the new state law, breeders who produce nine litters of puppies and who sell 60 or more dogs yearly will be required to obtain a license to continue operating.
Application fees are expected to run from $150 to $750, depending on the number of dogs sold in a year. Licenses can 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 state Agriculture Department is responsible for establishing housing, nutrition, exercise and other care standards for breeders, with annual inspections to ensure compliance.
The funding will be used for initial payroll and operating expenses, including the purchase of trucks and computers, according to documents.
The agency already has hired four inspectors, a veterinarian and two support-staff members for the program, according to spokeswoman Erica Hawkins.
Registration forms are not yet available, awaiting approval by a new state advisory board, Hawkins said in an email message. State officials have heard “as many as 3,000” kennels may need to apply, she said.
License fees paid by kennels and penalties for rule violations will be used to fund the program in the future.