Monday, July 14, 2008

Ohio Puppy Mills

This is a FANTASTIC editorial that appeared in the Sunday, July 14, 2008 issue of The Columbus Dispatch. BRAVO!!!

Legislators should put end to Ohio's
national reputation as haven for puppy mills
Ohio lawmakers still have time to liberate the state from the shame of being the nation's No. 2 haven for puppy mills, where inbred, sick dogs are forced to produce litter after litter of inbred, sick puppies in miserable conditions.

Why House and Senate members have failed to act on bills to reasonably regulate dog breeding, introduced in each of the past two sessions, is a mystery.

Even an unsolicited letter of support in April from Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel -- one of Ohio's prime celebrity endorsements, surely -- didn't sway them.

The current measures, House Bill 223 and Senate Bill 173, have languished since being introduced in May 2007.

Lawmakers, headed off on a long election-year break, still could pass these bills -- either in a special session before the November election or in the lame-duck session after it.

The proposed law would do nothing to impede anyone from breeding dogs under humane conditions.It certainly would inconvenience those who profit from misery, as they confine dogs in tiny, filthy cages, breeding them over and over, with little rest or veterinary care, and no social interaction with humans.

The law would create a division of the Department of Agriculture that would set minimum standards for living space, food, water, daylight, time out of cages and medical care. The rules would apply to kennels where nine or more dogs are bred per year. Those who buy and sell breeding dogs at auctions and sell them to pet stores would have to be licensed and would be required to keep records of their transactions.

Pet stores either would have to provide a veterinarian's certification for each dog sold, stating it is healthy, or offer customers a 21-day money-back guarantee for dogs that are deemed by the buyer's veterinarian to be diseased or injured.

Some legislators have opposed the bill out of a general dislike of government regulation of business, but such mindless adherence to this principle is harmful to consumers and downright brutal to animals. Beside the moral repugnance of the puppy-mill trade, leaving it essentially unregulated allows unethical breeders -- and there are lots of them -- to foist sick and badly bred puppies onto unsuspecting buyers. That doesn't promote good business in Ohio.

Those who oppose the bill because it would limit the puppy-mill industry that thrives particularly among the Amish in Holmes and Geauga counties should consider that the right to pursue a profit isn't a license to be cruel to animals.

Ohio, with more than 11,000 known breeders, is second only to Missouri in the number of puppy mills. Clearly, the state is tolerating an unsavory business that other states have seen fit to limit.

Ohio lawmakers should muzzle this awful business.

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