Puppy Mill Restrictions Introduced in Ohio; Animal Advocates Honor Rep. Laura Lanese

A closeup of a white and tan puppy with a black nose and eyes.
Photo by RogH

Columbus, OH—Reps. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) and James Hoops (R-Napoleon) will introduce legislation Wednesday to ban puppy mills and other commercial dog breeders from performing painful procedures such as cutting off puppies’ tails and pulling out their dewclaws. Lanese and Hoops will host a press conference to discuss the legislation on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Ladies Gallery of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

Current Ohio law defines tail docking and dewclaw removal as veterinary surgery to be performed by veterinarians. However, contrary to the law, an Ohio Department of Agriculture rule has for years allowed commercial dog breeders to perform these painful procedures on 2- to 5-day-old puppies without anesthesia or assistance from a qualified veterinarian. Common tools used to amputate puppies’ tails include garden clippers, scissors, knives, and even rubber bands. 

Earlier this year, in Warren County, Ohio, three Rottweiler puppies were found abandoned in crates with zip ties around their tails cutting off their circulation, according to the Humane Association of Warren County. “Unfortunately, the zip ties were so tight and embedded into the skin and bone that we had to wait for our surgical team,” said the Humane Association’s executive director, Joanne Hurley. 

After learning that the state’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review was scheduled to hear testimony on the puppy mill regulations, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) seized the opportunity to get the tail docking and dewclaw rule invalidated. AWI testified at a hearing in April, and Ohio animal protection advocates sprang into action, contacting committee members to object to the rule. The committee ended up tabling the regulation in April.

To prevent this inhumane rule from moving forward and to ensure that puppy mill regulations comply with state law, Lanese and Hoops will introduce legislation to prohibit anyone other than a licensed veterinarian from performing certain medical and dental procedures on dogs.

“Animals have been injured and died in Ohio and elsewhere when breeders have performed surgical procedures on dogs,” Lanese said. “When Ohio H.B. 506 was enacted into law in 2018, it clearly stated surgical procedures shall be performed by veterinarians. Since the breeders are not clear on the fact that they cannot, by law, perform surgery on dogs, this legislation will make it clear.” 

“I am very happy and supportive in joining Representative Lanese in introducing legislation that clarifies surgery procedures that are done on dogs,” added Hoops. “Anyone who takes care of dogs or owns a dog knows this is the right thing to do.” 

“It is shocking that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been allowing anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to dock puppies’ tails and pull out their dewclaws, causing predictable and unnecessary pain and suffering and resulting in long-term damage,” said Nancy Blaney, AWI’s director of government affairs. “We are grateful to Representatives Lanese and Hoops for taking the initiative to put an end to this problem once and for all.” 

AWI congratulates Lanese, a three-term lawmaker who plans to retire this year, for being named Ohio Animal Advocates’ Legislator of the Year in recognition of her steadfast commitment to improving the lives of animals across Ohio. Lanese has been a champion for animals throughout her career in the state legislature, having introduced several successful bills to improve animal welfare. Last year, for instance, she sponsored legislation—supported by AWI—to require cross-reporting of animal abuse and family violence to better protect both human and animal victims of violence in the home. Ohio Animal Advocates will present the award to Lanese at the press conference.

Media Contact Information

Margie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywherein the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.