On Wednesday, the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee advanced a bill that makes numerous changes to the state’s laws regulating high volume dog breeders.
As passed by the committee, House Bill 506, sponsored by Representative Brian Hill, is an effort to update the laws in a reasonable manner. We thank Representative Hill for making several amendments based on AKC’s requests before the bill was passed by the committee. Representative Hill has acknowledged as well that he understands further amendments are needed, and the AKC is continuing to work closely with him and other stakeholders including sportsmen, breeders, and veterinarians on this measure.
In late 2017, the Humane Society of the United States filed a petition for a ballot initiative in the November 2018 election to place into the state constitution vague, restrictive, and harmful regulations on anyone who owns eight intact females – regardless of their age (which means it could subject someone who has one or two adult females and a litter of puppies to regulation as a high volume breeder). The ballot initiative would mandate specific kennel temperature requirements that do not take into account breed, or the fact that young puppies must be kept at warmer temperatures. Other mandates would include enclosure sizes that are significantly larger than those currently required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture or the USDA, meaning that anyone who met the proposed definition of high volume breeder would have to rebuild their kennels and/or ensure they have enclosures of this size in their home for their dogs.
Petitions are being circulated throughout Ohio to place this dangerous measure on the November 2018 ballot. Should HSUS and other animal rights groups collect enough signatures and the ballot measure passes, then these regulations would be placed directly into the state constitution and be extremely difficult to ever change.
Representative Hill agreed with the AKC, breeders, sportsmen, veterinarians, and others that this is not the best way to enact change for dogs, and that an open legislative dialogue is the more appropriate venue for any amendments and changes to the current state law.
Components of House Bill 506:
As passed by the committee, House Bill 506 contains many new provisions, including:
- New Definition of “high volume breeder” – Under this bill, a high volume breeder is an establishment that keeps, houses and maintains six or more breeding dogs (meaning a fertile, unspayed, adult dog) AND meets one of the following criteria:
- In return for a fee or other consideration, sells 5 or more dogs to a pet store or dog retailer (a retailer is defined in current law as someone who sells at wholesale for resale), or
- In return for a fee or other consideration, sells 40 or more puppies in a calendar year to the public, or
- Keeps, houses and maintains at any given time in a calendar year, more than 60 puppies under the age of 6 months that have been bred on the premises of the establishment and have been primarily kept, housed and maintained from birth on the premises.
An establishment must BOTH maintain 6 or more breeding dogs as defined AND meet one of these three criteria to be considered a high volume breeder. Just maintaining 6 breeding dogs will not be considered to meet the threshold of a high volume breeder. AKC continues to ask that the definition of breeding dog be further clarified to state that breeding dogs as defined are female dogs.
- Clarified standards of care for high volume breeders – The standards of care in House Bill 506 include requiring food sufficient to maintain normal body condition provided in accordance with a nutritional plan recommended by a veterinarian; access to potable, clean, and sanitary water; and a primary enclosure with measurements that are based on a dog’s length and regulations regarding flooring and sanitation that are based on current Ohio Department of Agriculture rules. Outdoor enclosures require protection if the climatic or ambient temperature poses a threat to the health of the individual dog, rather than specific temperature requirements that do not take into account specific breeds, such as those proposed in the ballot measure.
- Requirement that pet stores and dog retailers must verify that breeders meet Ohio’s standards of care. Prior to obtaining an animal, a pet store or dog retailer (someone who sells to pet stores or at wholesale for resale) must verify that a breeder, whether in Ohio or out of state, verify the standards of care at the breeder’s kennel and keep records on this verification, in order to ensure that dogs sold in Ohio pet stores were raised in kennels that meet Ohio’s minimum standards.
The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to vote on House Bill 506 next week. While the sponsor has acknowledged that further clarifications and changes are needed before the bill is finalized, the AKC greatly appreciates the many amendments in this bill that were made to clarify provisions in the introduced bill and current law, and will continue to work with Representative Hill to address additional amendments.
What You Can Do:
- Contact Representative Brian Hill and thank him for working with the AKC and for his desire to have an open legislative dialogue on this issue. Also mention that you agree that the legislature is more appropriate than a ballot measure for addressing dog and breeder laws. If you are a constituent (Guernsey and Muskingum Counties), please be sure to mention that to him. His phone, e-mail, and social media contacts may be found on his legislative web page: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/brian-hill
- Contact your State Representative and express your comments on House Bill 506. Also let them know you appreciate that many amendments have already been made to ensure a clear, reasonable law. Use the “Find My Legislators” tool at legislature.ohio.gov to find the name and contact information for your State Representative.
The American Kennel Club is continuing to work very closely with Representative Hill, the General Assembly, and other interested parties on this important issue and will provide more updates and information as soon as they are available. For questions, you may contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.