AWI has joined the “Stop Puppy Mills Ohio” coalition of animal welfare groups, rescues, shelters, and Ohio citizens to launch a ballot initiative aimed at clamping down on puppy mills in the state.
Ohio is a notorious stronghold for such unsavory operations; it is second only to Missouri in the number of federally licensed commercial dog breeding facilities, and until 2012 it had no meaningful animal care standards for them. The Commercial Dog Breeders Act was enacted that year, requiring high-volume breeders (those who sell 60 or more dogs and produce at least nine litters in a single year) to be licensed and inspected. The Ohio Department of Agriculture, however, has indicated the law is difficult to enforce. Nearly 900 breeders are on the department’s “action list”—meaning that they may meet the threshold but aren’t currently licensed or inspected. Countless dogs in Ohio puppy mills continue to live bleak lives in cramped, dirty, stacked wire cages, with no ability to move about comfortably or socialize. Puppy mill mothers exist only to breed, until their bodies give out after multiple litters.
The ballot initiative, if it passes, will institute a number of breeding facility welfare reforms. It will require larger enclosures that are not stacked and that have solid flooring. It will mandate basic veterinary care, access to exercise areas, proper food and drinking water, socialization with other dogs and humans, and more. Any breeder selling 15 or more dogs a year in Ohio (including out of state breeders who sell dogs in Ohio) will be required to meet these reasonable, humane standards. Pet stores and other commercial operations selling dogs to consumers in Ohio also will be required to source dogs from breeders who meet these standards.