In response to efforts by the Humane Society of the United States, the Ohio General Assembly has approved legislation to significantly strengthen standards of care for breeding dogs. Ohio was previously named one of the worst states in the nation for puppy mills. H.B. 506, sponsored by Rep. Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, includes a broad range of reforms consistent with those proposed in a ballot measure campaign by HSUS and its coalition partners with Stop Puppy Mills Ohio, marking a major step forward to protect dogs and Ohio consumers.
The new law will help protect dogs and Ohioans from cruelty, high veterinary bills and the heartbreak of losing a family member to disease or conditions produced by mass-breeding of animals. If enacted with a signature by Gov. John Kasich, Ohio will go from having some of the nation’s weakest provisions to protect dogs on puppy mills to having one of the nation’s strongest anti-puppy mill laws.
The new bill makes the following improvements for conditions in puppy mills:
- Ends the practice of stacking cages that house dogs on top of other cages
- Bans wire flooring in enclosures that house breeding dogs
- Provides constant access to clean water and nutritious food at least twice a day
- Increases kennel sizes
- Requires annual veterinary exams
- Provides protections from extreme temperatures
- States that breeders can no longer house dogs in isolation
- Places lifetime limits on the number of litters permitted per breeding mother
- Requires retailers selling puppies to acquire those animals from breeders who meet these standards, regardless of what state the breeder is located in
Because of the comprehensive and strong reforms present in the amended version of H.B. 506, the Humane Society of the United States has suspended its Stop Puppy Mills Ohio ballot initiative, which sought to pass the provisions contained in the bill through the ballot initiative process. The provisions take effect 90 days after Gov. Kasich signs the bill, with the exception of the kennel size requirements, which will go into effect three years after he signs the bill. The ballot initiative provisions would have gone into effect one year after passage.
“The Humane Society of the United States thanks all of the volunteers who worked on this campaign and whose efforts have resulted in the votes to pass this landmark legislation. Thousands of volunteers helped put a bright spotlight on the puppy mill issue and the lack of meaningful care for breeding dogs,” said Corey Roscoe, the organization’s Ohio state director. “The Ohio General Assembly heard the pleas and, as a result, we are on the cusp of a tremendous leap forward in our effort to ensure that no dog is raised in the filth and misery that is so common in puppy mills.”
Puppy mills are dog breeding operations that sell puppies for profit while failing to meet the breeding dog’s physical, emotional or behavioral needs. Some contain scores, or even hundreds of dogs, confined in small, wire cages. Many of the dogs are bred every heat cycle, until their bodies wear out. The dogs are generally denied exercise or socialization.
Another provision protects dogs and consumers by changing the method by which retailers acquire dogs to sell. Once H.B. 506 is signed by Gov. Kasich, consumers will be assured that stores are only selling dogs from breeders who meet these standards, including dogs sold from breeders located outside of Ohio.
Ohio is believed to have the second largest number of puppy mills in the country, after Missouri. Ohio stood out among other states in the Humane Society of the United States’ recently released Puppy Buyer Complaints (PDF) report, which summarized 10 years of complaints the group received from consumers.