We have exciting news to report from Ohio today. In response to our Stop Puppy Mills Ohio ballot initiative campaign, the state legislature has given near-final approval to a bill that brings major reforms designed to improve the lives of breeding dogs. The measure includes a ban on some of the most cruel practices used by commercial dog breeders, like stacking dogs on cages one on top of the other, and keeping the animals in cages with wire flooring.
The bill is a game changer for breeding dogs in the Buckeye State, which has the second largest number of puppy mills in the country after Missouri, and it sets the stage for national reform of commercial dog breeding kennels.
A year ago, the Humane Society of the United States, working together with local allies and some amazing volunteers, launched a campaign in Ohio to place a measure on the ballot that would end cruel practices common in puppy mills. Thousands of volunteers gathered signatures to place the Ohio Puppy Mill Prevention Amendment on the ballot and voters from every county in the state signed.
This groundswell of activism prompted the state legislature to take action. House Bill 506 was originally introduced in January and we were critical of the bill, as it fell short of the changes we judged necessary to fully protect breeding dogs. But motivated legislators listened to what people across the state were saying. Two weeks ago, a committee in the Ohio senate accepted 13 amendments that significantly strengthened the bill to mirror the reforms sought in our ballot measure, and yesterday the bill passed the senate by a sweeping vote of 31 to 1.
Within 90 days of HB 506 being signed into law, practices like stacking dogs in cages will be abolished and, in a first for any state in the nation, no pet retailer will be allowed to acquire puppies from any kennel that fails to meet these standards. Dogs will receive better protection from extreme temperatures and will be provided daily exercise and socialization. These changes will become law before our ballot initiative could even have been voted on. It will be among the strongest anti-puppy mill laws in the country, in the nation’s second largest puppy mill state, and will provide momentum for the national campaign against puppy mills.
We expect the Ohio House of Representatives to concur with the positive changes the senate made to the bill when the house is next in session, which could be this week or next. The bill will then go to the governor for his signature. Once it is enacted into law, we will refocus our energies to extend these kinds of reforms across the nation.
This is a major turn of events and it comes on the heels of state legislation in California and Maryland that bans the sale of commercially raised puppies in pet stores and blistering exposés of problem puppy mills through our 6th annual Horrible Hundred report and the recently published book, “The Doggie in the Window.”
Just 18 months ago, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation that struck down local laws that regulate the sale of animals in pet stores — a hostile move designed to make it easier for puppy mills to sell into the state of Ohio. Since that time, we have seen a sea change in lawmakers’ attitude, with the General Assembly taking a stand against puppy mills, and adopting meaningful statewide standards for the care of dogs in large-scale commercial breeding operations and the sale of dogs to Ohio consumers, saving tens of thousands of dogs from a life of misery.
This is exactly the kind of change we work for each day here at the Humane Society of the United States. A big thank you to everyone who worked to help the dogs caught up in Ohio’s puppy mills — we couldn’t have done it without you.