Ohio Valley Dog Owners, Inc.
Protecting dogs, dog owners and our neighbors
The Ohio Legislature is considering two bills that unintentionally give anti-breeding groups a victory over dog breeders and other kennel owners in the state. Although they are promoted as anti-puppy mill bills, HB 606/SB 342 as introduced place a huge burden on responsible breeders, trainers, and boarding kennel owners based on the number of dogs they keep. SB 342 has been amended slightly, but it still maintains its original purpose to license kennels with more than eight dogs and still legitimizes opinions that breeders will mistreat dogs if they are not regulated.
Some people suspect that anyone who has lots of dogs does not care about their welfare or will keep them in poor conditions unless forced to allow government oversight. However, the truth is that the vast majority of kennel owners do at least an adequate job and most do far better than that. Cases of cruelty and neglect capture headlines, engage the emotions, and are great for raising money for organization treasuries, but they represent a small minority of breeders, trainers, or boarding kennels.
Everyone who responsibly raises, trains, or boards dogs abhors the existence of shoddy kennels where dogs are bred and puppies produced with little or no concern for their health and well-being. However, we should not be fooled by labels such as "anti-puppy mill bill" that further the anti-breeding/anti-purebred agenda of activists. Laws that burden responsible breeders and kennel owners with an elaborate licensing scheme, high costs, and government fiats about veterinary care and grooming punish responsible breeders and kennel owners for simply pursuing their passion or livelihood.
HB 606 and SB 342, its companion bill in the Senate, offend conscientious breeders and kennel owners because they ...
1. ... place a high financial burden on kennel owners prior to any complaint or investigation of suspected violations of cruelty law or standards of care. Mandated bonds and high annual license fees will drive good breeders away.
2. ... micro-manage veterinary care and grooming. Breeders should not lose the right to determine medical plans for the dogs they own, and boarding and training kennel owners should not be held responsible for an owner's failure to abide by grooming and medical regulations. Experienced owners can treat their own animals in many cases, and some breeders opt for treatment and preventive measures that involve alternative medicine and procedures, practices that are not allowed in these bills.
3. ... require breeders to prove that they are not keeping intact dogs primarily for breeding. "Primarily for purposes of reproduction" is now defined as whelping or siring at least one litter per calendar year. This provision will cause some breeders to be licensed in some years but not others. Many breeders keep more than eight intact dogs but only breed a litter or two each year. (SB 342 as amended would limit licensing to those who keep more than eight dogs for breeding and produce more than five litters per year, including litters sired by stud dogs.)
4. ... regulate the size of crates that can be used for temporary confinement. The bills exempt travel crates but fail to exempt the use of the same crates as temporary confinement in hotel rooms, homes, dog show grooming areas, etc.
5. ... place responsibility for administration and enforcement of a cruelty law in the Commerce Department, an agency that regulates inanimate products and their dealers or service providers. Dogs are living creatures, not mattresses, real estate, or precious metals, and dog breeders are not financial institutions, construction workers, or liquor salesmen. Dog laws should be enforced by those who understand animal husbandry, not those who regulate liquor stores and pawn shops.
6. ... infringe on the legal obligation of the Department of Agriculture, the state agency charged by law with responsibility for animal husbandry. An Ohio court determined in 1975 that "breeding, raising and care of dogs constitutes animal husbandry" [Harris v Rootstown Twp. Zoning Bd: 44 OS(2d) 144, 338 NE(2nd) 763 (1975)]. The department licenses livestock dealers, animal auctioneers, milk dealers, and other agricultural businesses and has trained inspectors who understand animal care, a clear precedent for assigning kennel licensing to ODA.
7. ... will be costly to enforce. The license fees included in the bills are unlikely to cover the costs of paying inspectors to visit each breeding kennel that keeps more than eight breeding dogs.
8. ... fails to include requirements for training of inspectors even though the Commerce Department has no experience with animal care.
9. ... fails to provide due process for breeders whose dogs are impounded. The bills require payment of a bond for animal care prior to an appeal of the impoundment, hear appeals only in a single court in Columbus, and fail to provide for return of the bond if the appeal is upheld.
10. ... now requires all who sell a dog or puppy to have a vendor license and collect sales tax. This means that breeders with fewer than nine breeding dogs can continue to buy a county kennel license but will be required to apply for a vendor’s license as if they are a commercial retailer.
11. Allows the director of commerce to set adoption fees for rescues.
Read HB 606 at www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=126_HB_606 and SB 342 at www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=126_SB_342 or by a link on the OVDO website. These are the introduced versions of the bills; the revised versions are not yet available on the state website but can be obtained by sending e-mail to ovdog01(at)canismajor.com.
Letters to sponsors can help get these bills scrapped or completely rewritten so they target bad conditions, not good owners and breeders.
Sponsor of HB 606 is Representative Jim Hughes, who can be contacted at 77 S. High St., 13th Floor; Columbus, OH 43215-6111; Telephone: (614) 466-2473; Fax : (614) 719-6961; E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsor of SB 342 is Senator Gary Cates, who can be contacted at Senate Building, Room #042, Ground Floor; Columbus, Ohio 43215; Telephone: 614/466-8072; Email: SD04@mailr.sen.state.oh.us
HB 606 is being heard in the State Government Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives. Letters should be addressed to the committee members listed here with a copy sent to the sponsor.
The 2005-06 legislative session is just about over, and only HB 606 is set for a first hearing. However, they are likely to be re-introduced in some form in the next session and could move rather quickly. Ohio Valley Dog Owners will continue to follow all incarnations of these bills and report on their progress. You can reach us at 6241 N. State Route 48, Lebanon, OH 45036; (513) 932-3176; ovdog01(at)canismajor.com.
For more information about these bills and breeder licensing bills in general,
6 things animal rights activists will like about HB 606/SB 342
Does Ohio need a new kennel licensing law?
Animal welfare or animal rights?
What is a puppy mill?
For a look at a reasonable approach to animal control/animal welfare laws, see the NAIA Guide to Pet Friendly Ordinances at http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/petfriendlyguide.pdf
AKC has a set of policies that deal with dog breeding, ownership and care. See them at http://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/position_statements.cfm
OVDO home page Contact Ohio Valley Dog Owners at email@example.com