Hearing to be held on Weak Proposed OH Puppy Mill Regulations

bigstockphoto_Puppies_62577Update September 18, 2013:A public hearing will be held on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus in Hearing Room 121 on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s proposed regulations for “high volume commercial dog breeders and retailers. Plan to attend! For more on these proposed rules and how you can help improve the rules for Ohio’s dog breeders, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update June 27, 2013: The Ohio Department of Agriculture has asked for public input on proposed regulations for “high volume commercial dog breeders and retailers. The regulations are proposed pursuant to O.R.C. Sec. 956.03 which was enacted last year. Animal Law Coalition opposed that law, known then as S.B. 130, on the basis it was unlikely to protect dogs trapped in Ohio’s prolific dog breeding industry. And with good reason, as it turns out.

A dog rescuer based near Columbus, Ohio and who asked to remain anonymous, decried the proposed regulations as “terrible”. She said until now she could at least complain that keeping dogs crammed into small cages 24/7 violated the state’s cruelty laws. “Now,” she said, “that IS the law.” It’s true.

Under the proposed regulations an unlimited number of dogs can be kept in a cage 24/7. The longest dog in the cage, for example, a 20 inch long dog, would have only 5.63 ft by 1 ft with each additional 20 inch long dog provided only 2.89 ft by 1 ft. The cage need only be 6 inches above the head of the tallest dog when standing. This is how dogs held by “high volume” breeders and retailers could be caged 24/7 in Ohio if these regulations are approved.

High volume breeders and retailers operating now with existing enclosures will not even be required to comply with these weak regulations until January 1, 2019.

Dogs are not required to have indoor shelter. If temperatures fall below 50 degrees, “[d]ry bedding or other methods of conserving body heat must be provided and dogs must be protected from “direct sunlight”, but otherwise provisions for temperatures, heating, cooling, humidity are vague and depend on the “health and welfare” of the dogs.

Wire flooring is permissible as long as there is a protective coating and some solid flooring that would provide a resting place for all the dogs at once.

A veterinarian is not required to visit more than one time a year though must conduct a physical exam of each dog then. There is to be a “written annual program” for exercise, but there is no requirement that the dogs actually be provided with exercise or time and space to get exercise except dogs over 12 weeks old which “do not have normal mobility or muscle tone development” or if they have even less space to live in than required.

Dogs are to be “monitored regularly” for disease, injury, dental problems, matting, excessive toe nail length, parasites and “abnormal behavior”. It is not clear what “monitored regularly” means, though. At least, “[c]orrective measures, under veterinary guidance, shall be taken when evidence is found of any of these conditions”.

There is mention of “human contact”, “socialization” “effective enrichment”, even a plan for “[b]ehavior and social needs”, but it is simply unclear as to what, if anything is required beyond the dog seeing someone drop off food or walk by the cage. Actual human physical contact is only required for dogs 16 weeks old or younger. Again, it is not clear that this means more than having someone briefly touch the dog from time to time.

A nutritional plan is supposed to be developed for each dog, but there is no requirement about following the plan or the amount or quality of the food that must be provided. Water can be limited to one hour twice daily.

Euthanasia is to be done under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian but any means is allowed if American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines are followed. AVMA allows gassing and heartsick, for example, as a means of killing.

There are no regulations for conducting inspections. The only penalty is a $100 fine for not having a license and $500 for each subsequent offense.

There are provisions for cleaning, disease prevention, ventilation, safety, whelping, minimal lighting, infestation control, transportation, record keeping, licensing and the like, all very similar to the standards under the minimal federal Animal Welfare Act. In fact, breeders already subject to the AWA will not be required to comply with Ohio’s law at all until 2016.

It is estimated Ohio has 3,000 kennels subject to the new law. Currently there are 5 inspectors, a veterinarian in charge of the new inspection program and an administrator.

The Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board has met once, on May 22, 2013, for organizational purposes.


Call and write (letters or faxes are best) the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) Committee Chair, Ohio state Rep. Ross McGregor, by September 23 and ask for more space, limits on breeding and sale, and specific requirements for exercise, nutrition, socialization, and inspections; and penalties for violations of all regulations. Phone: (614) 466-4086; Fax: (614) 466-4068; email: jcarr1@carr.state.oh.us

Original report: Last December 11, 2012 Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law Sub. S.B. 130, to regulate the state’s “high volume” breeders and dog retailers, those that keep unspayed dogs that produce 9 litters of puppies each year and “for a fee or other consideration, sell” 60 or more adult dogs or puppies annually. For more on that law…..

Now the state veterinarian, Tony Forshey, has issued draft regulations that his office drafted along with various “stakeholders”. Read and download a copy of the draft regulations here.

The advisory board is scheduled to meet this week to consider the regulations. The advisory board is made up of the state veterinarian and 6 members appointed by the director: one representing a humane society, one who is a county dog warden, one who is a veterinarian, one representing animal rescues, one who is a breeder and one representing the public.

The inspection program thus far has employed 5 inspectors to report to a veterinarian, Terence Kline. The inspectors are not veterinarians. They will be responsible for annual inspections and investigation of complaints for over 3,000 dog kennels. In addition, Kline has said he intends to have the inspectors visit kennels ahead of inspections to let breeders know where they are out of compliance. That way they can remedy any potential violations before the inspection. The goal is clearly to support the breeding industry. And it is not clear how inspections, 6 a day on top of warning visits, will be other than very cursory.

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