Ohio Voters Could Soon Have an Opportunity to Crack Down on Puppy Mills

Published 9/13 by Care2

Ohio is one of the worst states in the nation for dogs when it comes to puppy mills. But a landmark ballot initiative has been launched that could soon allow voters to change that.

The state has the second highest number of breeders licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), behind Missouri, and problems there abound.

A dozen breeders from the state were featured on the Humane Society of the United States’ most recent Horrible Hundred report, which shines a light on some of the worst breeders in the U.S.

Some of the problems found in the state included overcrowding, underweight dogs, a lack of food and clean water, puppies on wire flooring, unsanitary conditions, unsafe housing, dead bodies, sick dogs, sick dogs, and more sick dogs who were shamefully denied veterinary treatment.

Even more concerning is the fact that the dogs being bred and sold by these breeders can end up anywhere in the country. While a puppy mill law was passed in Ohio in 2012 that subjects large-scale breeders to new licensing and inspection rules, animal advocates argue it’s inadequate and contains loopholes.

Last year, lawmakers also thwarted communities’ ability to pass ordinances that would ban pet stores from buying from large-scale breeders.

In addition to hurting puppies, puppy mills can also pose potential risks for humans. Petland, a large chain of pet stores that supports puppy mill operations, was just linked to a multi-state outbreak of Campylobacter infections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak was traced back to puppies sold by Petland, and at least 39 people have been sickened in Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Now, however, voters could get a chance to speak out against puppy mills. This week a coalition of local and national animal advocacy organizations filed a ballot initiative petition with the Ohio Attorney General in an effort to pass a measure that would address some of the worst problems on puppy mills.

The measure will require constant access to clean water and nutritious food at least two times a day, solid flooring for enclosures, larger space requirements, unfettered access to outdoor areas that are twice the size of indoor enclosures, protection from extreme weather conditions, prompt veterinary treatment of illnesses and injuries, vaccinations, socialization with people and other dogs, limits on how many times a dog can be bred and genetic screening.

If passed, it will be applied to anyone with eight or more breeding females, and require anyone selling 15 or more dogs in the state to meet those standards.

The measure is being supported by multiple animal advocacy organizations that want to see humane standards of care met in the state.

“SAVE Ohio Pets strongly supports this necessary and long overdue campaign. Through our work, we experience first-hand the life long suffering and endless health issues experienced by puppy mill dogs and their offspring. Ohio has the opportunity to become a national leader by ending these inhumane practices and demanding humane and compassionate care for animals,” said Susan Geier, vice president and treasurer of SAVE Ohio Pets.

Although filing is a promising first step, supporters will still need to gather 400,000 signatures from registered voters in Ohio to qualify for the November 2018 ballot. Hopefully, the goal will be met and Ohioans will get the opportunity to help end puppy mill cruelty in the state.

Read the original Op-Ed here.