Drive for signatures continues in fight for puppy mill amendment to Ohio constitution

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - In November, you could see a measure to battle puppy mills on your ballot.

The grassroots group Stop Puppy Mills Ohio is pushing to pass an amendment to the state constitution, which would crack down on puppy mills.

Under the changes, large-scale breeders would have to abide by new, tougher rules, enacted for the health and well-being of the animals who live there.

"So the idea isn't necessarily to end puppy mills altogether, but to actually make them more humane for the animals that are there," said Greg Willey, Executive Director of Friendship Animal Protective League in Elyria.

He says his organization supports the measure, in order to ensure basic rights for animals. Friendship APL houses many dogs who are victims of puppy mills, including a 3-year-old chocolate lab named Tessa. Willey says Tessa is still afraid of humans, and was likely starved for affection over her entire life.

She's in good health physically, but will require a lot of one-on-one time before she is ready for a new home.

"I feel like they are well worth that work and time and effort that is put forward with them, but they are a challenge. They are a challenge because of the environment they were raised in," Willey said.

Stop Puppy Mills Ohio has been working since last fall to gather the more than 300,000 signatures that are required for the measure to make it onto the November ballot. Those must be submitted by July 4.

Volunteers like Ann McDonald have been spending their time explaining the issue to voters, and asking them for their support.

"Just seeing kind of the horrible conditions they're in emotionally and physically is just really heartbreaking," she said.

McDonald says her dog originally came from a pet store, and the paperwork she received on him told her a buyer could get a "replacement" if anything happened to the dog. She says that inspired her to work seriously for animal advocacy, and to speak out against the puppy mill industry. She says most voters are receptive to the ballot issue.

"Some people that are really aware of it, dog lovers that know that this is happening, and the people you tell that aren't aware are immediately supportive," she said. "Just the idea that that's going on in our state and that our state has such a bad record is really motivating for people to do something about it."

This amendment is separate from House Bill 506, which Cleveland 19 told you about last week. While HB 506 is up to the legislature to pass and would modify existing code, a constitutional amendment would be enshrined in Ohio's constitution. It would also specify certain standards of treatment.

For example, while HB 506 mandates "food adequate for maintaining normal weight," the amendment would require two healthy, nutritious meals per day.

There are other differences, too, but both measures are moving forward with largely the same goal--to change the landscape and lives for dogs in puppy mills across the State of Ohio.

To learn more about Stop Puppy Mills Ohio, visit the website here.

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