Nov. 3, 2010: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has lost his bid for re-election. Former U.S. Rep. John Kasich won by approximately 49%-47%. What will this mean for the deal Gov. Strickland struck in June, 2010 with the Humane Society of the United States on a range of animal welfare issues? Both parties agree the "deal" is not legally enforceable.
For more on the deal and what it might have meant for Ohio’s animals, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
June 30, 2010: In a press conference held today, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced a deal has been reached with the Humane Society of the United States on a number of animal welfare issues.
As a result of the agreement, HSUS will not pursue its ballot initiative pursued through a ballot committee called Ohioans for Humane Farms to end certain factory farming practices such as (1) use of battery cages for egg laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, crates for veal calves or other confinement that prevents animals from from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely; (2) strangulation and other inhumane methods of killing cows and pigs and (3) transport, sale or receipt of non-ambulatory animals.
Signatures necessary to put the initative on the ballot were due today.
Gov. Strickland said the deal would "enhance animal welfare and animal care standards" and is "good for Ohio agriculture and good for animal welfare in our state." He said the deal had the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau and agriculture industry organizations in Ohio.
What the deal means for Ohio’s farm animals
Under the deal veal crates must be discontinued as of 2017, the same date as specified in the ballot initiative and when the industry has said use of the crates would be phased out anyway. Gestation crates may continue to be used until 2026 though no new permits for facilities using the crates can be issued after Dec. 31, 2010. Battery cages used for egg laying hens will not be required to be phased out, but there can be no new permits issued for facilities using battery cages for confinement.
It is not clear if the Livestock Care Standards Board will agree to implement these measures. Under Ohio law, the LCSB determines standards of care and treatment for farm animals. The LCSB could also presumably lift these restrictions at some point.
The deal does include a ban on strangulation of farm animals and mandatory humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals. There will also be a ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter. The language of these measures is not yet available. It is not clear what enforcement measures and penalties will be included. Again, the LCSB must implement these restrictions if they are to have the force of law.
In addressing why HSUS decided to abandon the ballot initiative, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, who was present at the news conference said that a ballot initiative is an "uncertain circumstance for both sides" and it is a "better outcome for both sides if we can advance …reforms".
HSUS, the Governor and Ag Industry agreed on a number of other animal welfare issues
Indeed, the deal is far-reaching, affecting other animal welfare issues. It was agreed that the governor would issue an order barring importation of exotic, dangerous animals as pets. It was agreed legislation would be enacted to raise penalties for cockfighting and improve commercial dog breeding standards. But the legislature must first pass the legislation.
There is already a bill pending to raise penalties for cockfighting. There is a battle between two puppy mill bills, S.B. 95, that would actually encourage puppy mills, and McKenzie’s Law, introduced by Ohio state Rep. Cheryl Grossman and which is supported by a grassroots movement. There is also a ballot initiative underway that would ban dog auctions. McKenzie’s Law would ban dog auctions and use of dogs for raffles and sale of dogs on public property including along public highways and roads, while S.B. 95 would allow them to continue.
Pacelle said HSUS would support S.B. 95.
It is more important than ever that you let your Ohio legislators know that you support McKenzie’s Law as the best way to end puppy mills and the cruelty to dogs. And, you can still help gather signatures for the ban on dog auctions. Take this as an opportunity to get involved and help pass meaningful legislation that will truly save dogs from the puppy mills in Ohio.