NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich have taken major steps to advance animal welfare, while balancing the needs of responsible pet businesses and consumers hoping to acquire a family pet.
Ohio Senate Bill 331, signed into law by Kasich on Dec. 19, is a landmark effort – certainly compared to other draconian proposals around the country that threaten dog ownership and breeding. It is one of the nation’s most far-reaching proposals to regulate pet stores, while also assuring animal welfare and protecting consumer choice.
SB 331 establishes statewide regulation of Ohio’s retail pet stores, creates new standards of care for pet stores, and prohibits pet stores from sourcing puppies from unregulated, poor-quality kennels, sometimes referred to as “puppy mills.”
And in another very important provision, it provides alternatives to local proposals that sought to end most dog breeding and would have forced pet sellers to sell only pets sourced from shelters or rescue distributors. Forcing the sale of only shelter dogs — and not allowing sales of purebred dogs from breeders — not only violates the rights of pet shop owners and breeders, it also does nothing to reduce shelter numbers or improve animal welfare. When consumers cannot get a pet that is a good match for their lifestyle, that pet is more likely to end up in the shelter system.
Forcing the sale of only shelter dogs also incentivizes the questionable practice of importing street dogs and dogs of unknown origins for U.S. rescues. In fact, the United States already has become a dumping ground for rescue dogs.
Patti Strand, national director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a nonprofit that studies the importation of rescue dogs, estimates that close to one million rescue dogs are imported annually from places such as Puerto Rico, Turkey, several countries in the Middle East and as far away as China and Korea.