Society

Animal Rescuers Face Scrutiny Under Ohio Puppy-Mill Law

| by Denise A Justin

In December of 2012, commercial breeder/puppy mill legislation in Ohio passed into law, forever changing the plight of the state’s puppy-mill dogs. Although Senate Bill 130 may not have included all the protections advocates sought, it does establish some badly needed oversight under the Ohio Department of Agriculture for the many puppy mills in the state.

Animal rescue groups also caught the attention of those who authored the bill, writes Kathy Aniotti of the Akron Beacon Journal. As of Dec. 31, 2013, all animal-rescue agencies with tax-exempt status operating in Ohio must also be registered and licensed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for enforcing the new law.

SB 130 was also expanded to protect animals from misguided people who are “rescuing” them into situations not much better than they were in originally.

For the most part, properly run rescues that register with the state will have no problem with the law, writes the Journal. Organizations that are poorly run may not want to register if they are concerned about passing an inspection if a complaint is filed.

Adopters should be aware that some so-called rescue groups in Ohio have a long history of buying litters of purported purebreds from puppy mills and then selling them to adopters who are under the mistaken impression that they are helping a rescued puppy.

In reality, writes Kathy Antoniotti, the businesses are supporting and promoting puppy mills. The people behind this despicable practice get up to 50 times more money for each animal than they paid.

In fact, a puppy mill operator who spoke at hearings on the bill said a lot of his business came from “rescues” who bought entire litters and then sold the animals.

“As ashamed as I was to admit it, I knew it was true,” said Martha Leary of Star-Mar Rescue in Wooster, an affiliate program of Rescue Alliance. “So buying dogs/puppies from Craigslist, etc., is the way a lot of rescues function.”

To stop the practice, the law prevents people from buying more than nine (9) dogs a calendar year, with the exception of rescues that pay fees to shelters and pounds.

Bans prohibiting sale of “puppy-mill” puppies in pet stores in several states, including California, could result in similar exploitation by Internet pet brokers who pose as “rescuers.” Other states may soon be looking at Ohio’s registration requirements as a safeguard.

Senate Bill 130 is accomplishing what proponents wanted, says Martha Leary, an advocate of the law.

“Many breeders have closed down,” Leary said. “I can go through all my old puppy mill routes and more than half of the breeders are gone. Cage sizes for dogs have changed drastically [much larger, and they are required to provide] mandatory vet care.”

The law also requires proper dental care.

Link to Registration form for Rescue Organzations: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/ai/docs/CDB%20Animal%20Rescue%20Registration.pdf

Learn more about the law at: www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=129_SB_130

Source: Ohio, Pet Finder