Puppy Mills

THE PROPER care of dogs has never been more in focus.

The concerns at the Belmont County Animal Shelter have drawn center stage locally in that regard. However, a more far-reaching issue is that of puppy mills.

Puppy mills are known as large-scale commercial breeding facilities that often place more emphasis on making a profit than on the welfare of the animals. Such places have been the target of the ASPCA and other groups for reports of canine mistreatment.

Such incidents of cruelty may soon become less commonplace thanks to recently enacted state legislation. An Ohio law took effect Jan. 1 that establishes new and tougher standards for puppy mills and dog breeders.

It is legislation needed and overdue.

The dog-breeding industry first came under regulation back in 1966 in the form of the Animal Welfare Act. The act, however, failed to have the bite needed to properly regulate the business.

The newly minted legislation puts more teeth into overseeing dog breeders.

The new law requires dog breeders who produce at least nine litters and at least 60 dogs in a year to get a state license, costing anywhere from $150 to $750, depending on the number of animals. People who sell to pet stores after buying from breeders, sometimes known as dog retailers, are also now required to get an annual license costing $500. People who fail to obtain the required licensing will be subject to fines and penalties if they do not comply. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty within the last 20 years will be prohibited from getting a license.

All of the aforementioned requirements should go along way in helping removed the tarnished image in the business. The new law doesn’t stop there, however.

In addition to licensing requirements, the new legislation requires that kennels are properly ventilated with temperature controls, sheltered from weather, and kept clean. Breeders are required to undergo background checks and have insurance. They must also have a working relationship with a veterinarian to care for their animals.

The program will be regulated by four inspectors hired by the Department of Agriculture, who will conduct routine inspections. The legislation has been in the works for many years, and was actually passed back in March of 2013, but rules about cages and other standards had to go though the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review before licensing was finally set for Jan 1.

We commend all those who had their paws in crafting the legislation. We also challenge the inspectors to strictly enforce the new guidelines.