Ohio bill would crack down on festering issues with large-scale puppy mills

OHIO (WOIO) - The Humane Society of the United States has just released its annual report on puppy mills across the country, dubbed the "Horrible Hundred."

Ohio ranks second on that list, just behind Missouri.

Right now, with days numbered in the Ohio legislative session, there is a bill that could crack down on large-scale breeders.

House Bill 506 defines those as a breeder who sells 60 or more puppies per year, with six fertile females at the operation.

Under the terms of the bill, breeders would be subject to more stringent requirements. They would be required to provide dogs with adequate food, clean water, enough space to stand up and stretch out, and veterinary care when they need it.

Representative John Rogers, of District 60, is a co-sponsor of the bill. He says it's a step in the right direction to hold problem operations accountable for the way they treat animals in their care.

"If you're in this business, if we're going to give you the license to be able to operate, we want you to operate in this manner, and it's going to be subjected to the Department of Agriculture coming and verifying that you're doing just that," he said.

The bill has some critics, who want to see it go further to guarantee protections. Representative Rogers says the bill may be expanded in the future, but that something should be done soon

"Ohio is one of the problem states in the country," he said. "Maybe this is not enough, but laws are dynamic, and you write a law to improve an existing situation, and if you find that factors are such that you have to address it again, then you do address it again."

Cleveland Animal Protective League President Sharon Harvey says she's been working to advise lawmakers on how to strengthen the bill. She says something should be done to protect animals in large-scale breeding operations, and she wants to see that reflected somewhere in state law.

"Obviously, getting something better for these animals, as long as these businesses exist, is better than nothing," she said.

However, Harvey argues the problem is bigger than breeders. She encourages people to look for adoption first, and if they cannot find the pet they're looking for, be sure to do your homework before buying from a breeder.

"Research good, reputable breeders that are breeding because they love their breed, and they're trying to improve and sustain the quality of their breed," said Harvey. "They only breed a few litters a year, and you can meet the parents, and you know something about the background of the puppy."

At the same time as House Bill 506 is winding through the legislature, a grass roots organization called Stop Puppy Mills Ohio is gathering signatures for a measure on the November ballot, which would add an amendment to the constitution, governing the way large-scale breeders in the state can operate. That would have to pass by statewide majority to become law.

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