COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - A state ballot initiative committee, Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, has officially kicked off its 2010 campaign to save hundreds of "breeding" dogs which they believe are bought and sold carelessly and often treated heartlessly with little or no regard for their health and well-being.
The Ohio Dog Auctions Act is a measure whose mission is to help improve the lives of dogs in commercial breeding operations in Ohio. The proposed law would make it illegal for anyone to auction or raffle a dog in Ohio. It also would prohibit bringing dogs into the state for sale or trade that were acquired by auction or raffle elsewhere.
The Coalition plans to gather the more than 120,700 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters by December 1 to place a measure on the November 2011 statewide ballot, giving Ohio citizens the opportunity to end dog auctions and raffles. As of today, the group has received over 7,000 signatures from 64 counties.
"The Ohio dog auctions are a symptom of the puppy mill industry," said Mary O'Connor-Shaver, Treasurer for the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions. "The Coalition has witnessed first-hand the atrocious conditions of dogs sold at these auctions. Often living in their own waste, many of these dogs suffer from eye, ear and respiratory infections, parasites and malnutrition."
"Individuals who participate in these auctions are USDA licensed commercial breeders who are raising large numbers of dogs and puppies with profit as the primary motive for existence," said Veronica Dickey, volunteer with Coalition for Animal Concerns. "Many of them are found to be unhealthy, not screened for genetic diseases, do not show resemblance to the breed standard and lack good temperament. We believe Ohioans do not wish these dog auctions to continue in our state, and we support this ballot initiative which we feel will help protect dogs from inhumane treatment and abuse."
Ohio ranks seventh among the top ten states in the nation with the most USDA licensed commercial breeding kennels, a 400% increase from just six years ago. Dogs at these facilities typically receive little to no medical care, live in conditions with little to no exercise, socialization or human interaction, and are confined inside wire cages the size of a dishwasher for life.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) considers auctions and raffles not to be reasonable and appropriate methods to obtain or transfer dogs, and they discourage Parent Club rescue groups from purchasing dogs at these events. AKC believes that the purchasing of dogs at auctions is not overall in the best interest of purebred dogs.
The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, a Political Action Committee (PAC) comprised of numerous individuals from animal welfare organizations, has gained support from the Athens County Humane Society, Capital Area Humane Society, Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL), Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village, The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia, Humane Society of Delaware County, Erie Shores Humane Society, Ohio State University Buckeyes for Canines, PAWS Ohio, Animal Law Coalition, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The process for passing the Ohio dog Auctions Act ballot initiative
The proposal to ban all dog auctions and raffles has been certified by the state Attorney General and the Ohio Ballot Board. Ohio Revised Code §§3501.05, 3519.01, .05; 3505.062
The initiative, the Ohio Dog Auctions Act would enact Section 955.54 of the Ohio Revised Code to make it unlawful for any person to auction, as defined in ORC 4707.01, or raffle a dog within Ohio for any purpose. It would also prohibit bringing a dog that was acquired through an auction or raffle into Ohio for purposes of sale or trade.
The Ohio Attorney General would have authority to investigate, conciliate and prosecute alleged violations of the Act. The Attorney General or any resident of the state could bring a civil action to enjoin a violation of the Act. A first conviction under the Act would be punishable as a minor misdemeanor and each subsequent conviction as a fourth degree misdemeanor.
ORC 4707.01 defines "auction" to mean a sale "between an auctioneer ... and members of the audience or prospective purchasers, the exchanges and gestures consisting of a series of invitations for offers made by the auctioneer and offers by members of the audience or prospective purchasers, with the right to acceptance of offers with the auctioneer". "Auction" includes a sale involving advance bidding.
Before voters decide this, the state legislature must be given an opportunity to pass it. For the legislature to consider it, though, petitions must be circulated to gather signatures from Ohio voters in at least 44 of the state's 88 counties. Only qualified electors can sign the petition. There is one petition per county. From each of these 44 counties, the signatures must equal at least 1.5% of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election which was 2006. The total number of valid signatures on the petition must equal 120,700 which is at least 3% of the total vote cast for the office of governor during the 2006 gubernatorial election. Ohio Constitution Article II, §§ 1b, g; ORC §§ 3519.10, 14.
This signature drive is really a continuation of the effort which began last fall, 2009. During that initial drive which ended December 14, supporters gathered 7,202 signatures. Mary O'Connor Shaver, founder of Columbus Top Dogs and Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, who is spearheading this effort to ban Ohio dog auctions, explains, "[T]his ... represents a very strong showing given that ... our signature drive was not launched until after the November 3 election (efforts from our volunteers and supporters were focused on defeating Ohio Issue 2)."
Any signatures obtained during the initial drive in the fall, 2009 will carry over.
Once the necessary signatures are obtained, the legislature is given an opportunity to pass the initiative as a law. If the legislature does not act on the initiative within four months of the start of the 2011 session, or fails to pass it or passes it in amended form, proponents can then try to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide. To do that, another 120,700 signatures are required on yet another petition. Ohio Constitution Article II, §1b
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you are an Ohio resident and would like to circulate a petition, download at the end of this article the Initiative Petition attached to this article along with the Petition_Questions; Petition_Strategies for Gathering Signatures, and Instructions_Supporters who wish to gather signatures. On Jan. 19 you will receive further instructions, and then you can begin gathering signatures! Be sure to follow the instructions, though.
Once completed, you can send the Petition to Mary O'Connor-Shaver (her address is on the first page).
For more on Ohio dog auctions, go to http://www.holmescountyexposed.com/
Here are the scheduled town hall meetings in your area: