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On Friday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a law that will have a significant positive impact on dogs, dog owners, breeders, and sportsmen throughout Ohio.

House Bill 506, which contains numerous amendments requested by the AKC, is a compromise bill developed with a broad range of stakeholders concerned about animal welfare in the state.  The result is a comprehensive measure that amends the regulations for high-volume dog breeders in Ohio based primarily on currently accepted best practices and standards.

As a result of the passage of this law, HSUS signed a legal agreement to immediately stop their dangerous constitutional ballot initiative, which would have had a significant negative impact on dogs, hobbyists, sportsmen, and breeders.  The agreement further states that they will not put forward a ballot measure for at least 10 years, nor bring forward any legislative changes regarding the care or breeding of dogs in Ohio without the agreement of numerous stakeholders.

Background- Ballot Measure

In late 2017, the Humane Society of the United States filed a petition for a ballot initiative 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 have subjected someone who has one or two adult females and a litter of puppies to the same regulations as a high-volume breeder). The ballot initiative also mandated specific kennel temperature requirements that did not consider breed, health, or acclimatization. Other requirements included enclosure sizes that are significantly larger than those currently required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture or the USDA, meaning that anyone who had eight intact females of any age would have to rebuild their kennels and/or ensure they have enclosures of this size in their home for their dogs.

Petitions were being circulated throughout Ohio to get this initiative on the ballot in November 2018.  Because it would be a constitutional amendment, it would have been extremely difficult to ever change.  Not only would this have had an immediate negative impact on dogs, it would also have potentially continued to harm them in the future. Science continues to show us better practices for the care of dogs, and even the portions of the measure that are acceptable today, may someday not be considered appropriate.  The placement of animal care requirements in the state constitution would have made updates to the standards extremely difficult.

AKC thanks the fanciers, club members, and breeders who worked to spread the word about this ballot measure and encourage colleagues to not sign the petitions.

AKC also thanks fellow coalition partners – including Ohio sportsmen, veterinarians, and professional breeders – who worked together over a period of months to develop a measure that establishes reasonable regulations of high-volume breeders, while ensuring that non- commercial enthusiasts, sportsmen and small hobby breeders can continue to operate in a responsible manner that best meets the needs of animals kept in smaller numbers.

AKC is very appreciative of Representative Brian Hill, Chairman of the Ohio House Agriculture Committee, who agreed with the AKC, breeders, sportsmen, veterinarians, and others that constitutional amendments are not the best way to enact change for dogs, and that an open legislative dialogue is the more appropriate venue for changes to state law.  Chairman Hill sponsored House Bill 506 and invited a broad coalition to the table to develop a reasonable solution that would be in the best interest of Ohio dogs, breeders, and dog owners.  For more information on AKC participation in these meetings and the development of HB 506, read AKC’s blog from March 2018.

To join AKC in thanking the Ohio General Assembly for their support, click here.

What Does House Bill 506 Do?

House Bill 506 contains many new provisions, including:

  • Creating a 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 an unspayed, adult female dog primarily used for producing offspring) 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 40 puppies under the age of 4 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.

  • Clarifying standards of care for high volume breeders – The standards of care in House Bill 506 include requiring food twice a day (unless otherwise recommended by a veterinarian) that is sufficient to maintain body weight, not spoiled, and in accordance with a nutritional plan outlined by a veterinarian. Other requirements include, but are not limited to, continuous access to potable water, at least 30 minutes of exercise, and 15 minutes of daily interaction (all the requirements listed are unless otherwise recommended by a veterinarian).  There are also new regulations regarding the size of primary enclosures and flooring.  High volume breeders will have until the end of 2021 to comply with new size requirements.

    In addition, breeders must consider a dog’s breed, health, age, and acclimation to the environment when keeping dogs in outdoor enclosures, and take steps to protect them when temperatures could pose a risk to the dog.  The AKC applauds the General Assembly for making this change, which will better protect the safety of dogs than the specific temperature requirements outlined in the ballot measure.

  • Requiring 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 require that a breeder, whether in Ohio or out of state, sign a document verifying 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 AKC thanks the General Assembly for working with the AKC and stakeholders on this important initiative.  This compromise bill was developed in an open, legislative process, which is much more appropriate than a constitutional measure.  Most importantly, ensuring that there is no ballot measure is in the best interest of dogs bred and raised in Ohio.

Join AKC in thanking the Legislators who shepherded this solution through the Ohio State Legislature.