The state of Ohio is going to start regulating dog breeders. The move is long overdue.
The Ohio Senate approved the measure targeting so-called "puppy mills" by a 32-1 vote Nov. 27. What it approved is much stronger than the version approved by the Ohio House. The new law, which goes to Gov. John Kasich for his signature, would require the licensing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture of breeders who produce nine litters of puppies or sell 60 or more dogs per year.
The bill is aimed at unscrupulous breeders, those, for example, who use cages with no room for the animals to move. The measure permits the Ohio Department of Agriculture to specify space requirements for animals.
The bill also requires inspections by veterinarians annually, but has the deficiency of not requiring that the veterinarians be true third-party inspectors. Without that, the inspections by veterinarians for whom the breeders are customers could turn out to be a joke. That provision needs to be strengthened.
Those concerned with the humane treatment of animals have complained about operators of puppy mills for years. Their complaints finally are being heard, too late of course for the animals victimized by slipshod puppy dealers, but the law overall is a step toward more humane treatment of animals.
"This bill will seek out breeders who do not maintain a healthy environment for their animals," said Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus. "This legislation does not target those dog breeders that act responsibly and in the best interest of the animals. ... By the passage of this bill, we are sending a message to all bad breeders -- they're not welcome in Ohio." That's as it should be.