Update May 31, 2012: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has now signed into law H.B. 2921, the Commercial Pet Breeders Act of 2012 which puts the Board of Agriculture in charge of licensing commercial pet breeders and otherwise weakens the 2010 law. For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update May 26, 2012: Just 2 years after then Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed into law the Commercial Pet Breeders Act of 2010, 5 Okla. Stat. 5001 et seq., the state legislature has passed a bill, H.B. 2921, repealing the Act and substituting a new proposed law, the Commercial Pet Breeders Act of 2012. The new bill has been sent to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.
Under the new proposed Act, H.B. 2921, commercial pet breeders with more than 11 breeding dogs and cats would be regulated by the Board of Agriculture instead of the Pet Breeders Board made up of representatives from animal welfare, the breeders, and the state Veterinary Medical Association. Under the bill, the Board of Agriculture would set standards of care, fees, licensing procedures, procedures for sales, and procedures for making complaints.
Many breeders bitterly oppose the current law and many have refused to cooperate with the Pet Breeders Board. One breeder unsuccessfully challenged the Act in court.
The bill would still require commercial pet breeders with 11 or more dogs or cats used for breeding to obtain an annual license which would be non-transferable. The license could not be renewed if the breeder is in violation of any regulations.
The Board of Agriculture could allow "any qualified person" to perform the pre-license and annual inspections except anyone affiliated with a humane society which is defined to include any 501c3 animal rescue organization. Also, the "qualified person" would have the authority to investigate complaints. It is not clear what is meant by "qualified person" and there is no requirement that the Board set qualifications for persons performing inspections. There is a substantial risk this will allow, in effect, the breeders to inspect each other.
Commercial pet breeders that apply for a license by September 1, 2012 would not be required to meet cage size requirements more stringent than required by US Dept. of Agriculture. But all commercial pet breeders would be required to meet cage size requirements for new cages installed after that date. Go here for information on USDA cage size requirements.
There is no requirement that a breeder’s license must be suspended or revoked regardless of the violation or number of violations. The bill only says the Board has the discretion to suspend or revoke a license and even those circumstances are limited: conviction of an animal cruelty crime, conviction of violating the Act more than 3 times, suspension or revocation of a USDA license, and conviction of certain other felonies.
The breeder would be required to display the license and include the license number in any advertisement, sale or other transfer of the animal. An annual report at least of the number of animals held at the breeder’s facility must be submitted and made available to inspectors. Each animal must have a health record.
Fines for violations can range from $100 to $10,000. Each animal, each day or each action would be a separate violation. Violations would also be a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500 except in cases of interference with inspections, investigations or access to records in which cases the breeder would face a fine up to $1000.
The Board would have the authority to obtain injunctions and seize animals and also enforce penalties and fines in court.
The Board would be required to post a list of licensed breeders as well as of those whose licenses have been revoked.
Local governments could still enact more stringent regulations for commercial pet breeders.
For more on the current Commercial Pet Breeders Act, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. The primary differences are somewhat weakened enforcement and regulatory agency, the Board of Agriculture, and inspectors that are more likely to be friendly to breeders.
Update May 7: Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has now signed into law S.B. 1712, known as the Oklahoma black market breeder bill.
Update April 29: A last motion to reconsider was defeated, and the Oklahoma black market breeder bill, S.B. 1712, is awaiting signature by Governor Brad Henry!
For more on this bill that will regulate many dog and cat breeders, and a competing bill also filed this session, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update April 27, 2010: Oklahoma’s black market breeder bill, S.B. 1712, has now passed the state House by a vote of 59-31 (engrossed version attached below). The Senate gave final approval to House amendments by a vote of 29-17.
A motion to reconsider is pending, however. Lobbyists for breeders are still trying to kill the bill.
In the meantime, the Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act, H.B. 2745, failed to pass in the Senate. The bill earlier passed in the House by a vote of 63-30.
Original report: There are two bills pending in the Oklahoma legislature that would regulate commercial dog and cat breeders.
Commercial Pet Breeders Act or Black Market Breeders Bill
S.B. 1712 is called the Commercial Pet Breeders Act.
State Sen. Patrick Anderson, who introduced the bill, called Oklahoma a "target for … mills".
Under S.B. 1712 dubbed the black market breeder’s bill, a board would be created to regulate commercial breeders with 11 or more breeding dogs or cats at a time.
The executive director of the board would be appointed by the governor along with representatives of breeders, animal welfare, and the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association. Other members would be the Dean of the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Dean of the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Administration, and the Chair of the Oklahoma Tax Commission. (The tax commissioner would make sure the state collects sales taxes; it is estimated millions of dollars are lost each year in sales taxes breeders fail to pay.)
The Board would set fees and licensing and care standards and require a pre-license inspection and at least one inspection each year for each commercial breeder. Inspectors would also investigate complaints.
Breeders convicted of a violation of animal cruelty laws or 3 violations of the new Act would be ineligible for a license. Breeders could not renew licenses as long as they are in violation of the Act or any rule issued by the Board.
License numbers must be displayed including in advertisements and contracts for sale of animals.
Breeders would be required to keep health records and also submit an annual report to the Board that would include the number of adult intact animals held at the facility.
Animal control would be entitled to receive copies of the annual report and the health records.
The Board would have the authority to impose civil penalties and obtain injunctions for enforcement.
Anderson estimates 100,000 dogs are sold by Oklahoma commercial breeders each year, and the state is losing up to $20 million in revenue in unreported sales taxes. Indeed, his bill has been called the Black Market Breeders’ Bill.
Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act
This bill directs the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to allow any person or entity that sells, gives away, or transfers at least 35 dogs or cats each year to obtain a license voluntarily. This voluntary regulation scheme was introduced by state Rep. Lee Denney.
There could be one non-transferable voluntary license per location.
Licensing and regulation
The State Board of Agriculture would set minimum standards that would be no lower than USDA regulations including for veterinary care and record keeping. Applicants must submit to an inspection and provide the department with a "husbandry and breeding protocol, if applicable" as well as a veterinary protocol approved by a veterinarian. If the department is satisfied that the operation meets its requirements, a license can be issued to the applicant. Once licensed, the person or entity would continue to be subject to inspections. Any records submitted to the department would be made available to the public.
Licenses would be denied or revoked for anyone whose Animal Welfare Act license was "suspended, revoked, or whose application was refused due to the improper care of animals" or who has been convicted of a violation of any law relating to animal health or welfare or use of veterniary drugs. Licenses could also be denied, suspended, revoked or not renewed for material misstatements, misrepresentations or falsifications in the application or renewal, in the records or for refusal to permit inspections or violation of the rules.
Licenses could be denied, suspended, revoked or not renewed, or fines could be imposed for failure to comply with the requirements of the new law or its regulations.
There would also be a rule advisory committee made up largely of veterinarians and breeders with one representative of the animal welfare community. The bill authorizes a scheme of fees to be developed for licensing based on quantity of dogs and cats sold, given away or transferred and also for fines.
The license would be required to be "conspicuously displayed" to the public and listed on all web sites, ads, correspondence, anything to do with the operation. A copy of the license must be provided to purchasers or anyone else to whom the dog or cat is transferred.
Dogs and cats of licensees could be sold, given away or transferred at 6 weeks of age and must also have a health certificate and, if moving interstate, a veterinary inspection and microchip or tattoo or other permanent identification. Anyone taking the animal would be entitled to review health information. The bill states, "No person shall sell, offer to sell, promote, advertise, or otherwise market or represent a dog or cat as a Pet Quality Assurance animal unless the breeding and rearing of the dogs or cats is in compliance with the Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act".
Licensees must keep the bills of sale, certificate of Veterinary Inspection for each animal and any other records required by the Department.
The idea behind this bill is that commercial breeders, pet stores, dealers, and rescues will want to have the Pet Quality Assurance label and volunteer for the regulation.
Large scale puppy and cat breeding operations cannot be profitable and humane. For more on puppy mills in Oklahoma….. Should either S.B. 1712 or H.B. 2745 become law, it would be important to set and enforce truly humane standards of care.