In July Scene gave you a rundown of the state’s puppy breeding business, a multi-million dollar annual cash grab that’s taken hold in the state’s rural areas and Amish communities. After dragging through dirty Amish dog auctions and forcing you to look at a lot of sad puppy pics, we offered a happy ending: the state legislature was likely going to pass a law restricting how dogs are raised in large-scale operations.
Fast forward to today, and the political winds have shifted: now it looks like the puppy mill industry in Ohio will only get worse.
The story of Ohio’s failure to act on puppy mill legislation boils down to a face-off between two competing bills in the legislature that essentially split supporters between purists and realists, killing the process. The original bill was Senate Bill 95, sponsored by Columbus Republican Jim Hughes. Opponents of the bill said it made too many concessions to dog breeders in order to gain traction, including the removal of a controversial dog auction ban.
“The question is whether a not-so-good enforcement law is better than no law at all,” explains Cleveland APL head Sharon Harvey.
Those looking for a more astringent law introduced House Bill 570 backed by Republican Cheryl Grossman. The race was on. Interestingly, the bickering between the groups was coded in ’10 favorite election language: deficit fear and anti-government expansion. The 570ers pointed out the Senate bill created a new government agency that would need to be funded by the state; they’re bill, however, only increased the power of local dog kennels. 95 supporters were soon spooked away.
“It’s tremendously unfortunate that the two bills have split the animal welfare community,” Harvey explains, adding that the two groups will be getting together next year to discuss a compromise.
But by then, the Ohio puppy mill industry will probably only have expanded thanks to the proactive approach of Missouri voters. The Show Me state has always been neck-in-neck with Ohio in terms of top puppy mill producers. On election day this year, however, Missouri voters narrowly approved a proposition that put strict controls on breeding.
As a result, Missouri breeders are likely to just pack up and move their operations to greener fields — Ohio. The state is the longtime new address for bad breeders needing to relocate, and as long as the state’s legislature doesn’t pass anything, it will likely continue to be.
“We can’t be the last state to do something on this,” Harvey says.