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Not In Our Dog House

Puppy Mill Bill finally ends Ohio’s dubious distinction as one of the country’s least regulated states for commercial dog breeding

By Reis Thebault · January 15th, 2014 · News

In 2008, one of the most infamous high-volume dog breeders in Virginia was convicted on 25 counts of animal neglect and 14 counts of animal cruelty. In 2009, the state passed a law restricting his illicit business practices. But a short time later, he moved his so-called “puppy mill” to a state with some of the industry’s laxest laws: Ohio.

“When other states have said ‘You’re bad news, you can’t breed in our state,’ What have they done?” says Kelly Difrischia, director of the Columbus Dog Connection. “They have packed their bags and moved to Ohio.”

Indeed, until Jan. 1, 2014, Ohio was battling Missouri for the dubious distinction as the most unregulated state for puppy mills. 

However, with the new year, that is expected to change after Senate Bill 130 of the 130th General Assembly went into effect. The Puppy Mill Bill mandates improved living conditions for the dogs, setting standards for cage size, requiring regular grooming, veterinary examinations and socialization. These standards may seem obvious, yet before this law, some Ohio puppy mills were an unregulated hub for neglect and abuse.

“Breeding dogs that languish in puppy mills suffer from abhorrent neglect,” says Karen Minton, Ohio state director for the Humane Society. “Their nails grow into the pads of their feet, their teeth aren’t ever taken care of, resulting in rotten teeth and infected jaws.”

As for the breeders themselves, they must also meet new standards. All will have to apply for a breeding permit and undergo a background check during the application process. Past indiscretions will disqualify them, thereby preventing Ohio from being the destination for other states’ irresponsible breeders. 

“Regarding licensure, those that have been convicted of animal cruelty are no longer eligible for a breeder license,” Minton says, “thus removing the welcome mat that laid at our state’s border for so long.”

One of the most important pieces of the law, Difrischia says, is that it gives the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the agency in charge of enforcement, the ability to do annual inspections. 

“Because the state now has the ability to knock on your door, it has put a lot of the really egregious high-volume dog breeders on notice,” Difrischia says.

“Just by the fact that we passed this bill, we put a lot of the bad apples out of business, and that is amazing.”

To do this door knocking, the Department of Agriculture hired four inspectors and a team of staff that includes several veterinarians. 

“They are going to be tasked with doing inspections of the breeders,” says Department of Agriculture spokesperson Erica Hawkins. “They are going to be making sure that our care standards are being followed by the breeders.”

One thing they will not be checking, as it is not included in the law, is for a specific temperature in the dog’s housing facilities. Much to the chagrin of activists, the language of the law was reworded to require a more qualitative kind of standard. This is because, Hawkins says, lawmakers did not want to trap breeders into a certain reading on the thermostat, but rather allow inspectors to check if breeders are doing an adequate job of controlling temperatures for their animals. 

Difrischia points to the recent cold front that swept through Ohio as reason why there needs to be a specific temperature standard in the law and says the omission of one is among her biggest disappointments. 

“If a dog is going to be an employee and make a lot of money for you, you should compensate that dog very well by giving it very decent housing,” Difrischia says. “We aren’t even asking for the Taj Mahal. We’re asking for adequate daily living conditions, and we feel that those temperatures should have been set. It’s very disappointing.”

On the other hand, State Sen. Jim Hughes, the bill’s sponsor, is quick to point out that this is a vast improvement from the past. 

“Before this bill, it was unregulated,” Hughes says. “So all this cold weather we have had, they could keep those dogs outside, they could stack them in crates and they didn’t have to have any food or water.”

The law went into effect on the first of the year, but the changes did not come overnight; they were seven years in the making. 

“It’s been my most difficult bill,” Hughes says. 

There were several parties involved in the bill’s writing, from the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance to the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, the breeders and the rescuers, says Difrischia. 

“I guess the best analogy to use is herding cats,” she says. “You have to get all of these people who have different interests in what this language is to agree.”

Minton attributes the trouble to Ohio’s history as a difficult state in which to pass animal welfare legislation. 

“Whether it is the influence of big agriculture or concern about enacting new regulations on small businesses, we faced our share of powerful opposition,” she says. “An entire industry had gone unchecked for decades, and as you can imagine, there were may high-volume breeders that preferred to keep it that way.”

Despite the roadblocks, Ohio managed to pass the law and in doing so transitioned from one of the most lenient and tolerant states for puppy mills to one that will no longer put up with neglectful and irresponsible breeding habits.

“Ohio has definitely moved from being one of the worst — with no laws on the books — to having some of the strongest laws in the nation,” Minton says. 

Difrischia and other activists believe the bill to be a great first step but acknowledge there is more to be done.

“I want to be positive and hopeful and say that it is making a very big difference — and it absolutely is,” she says. “But there are also parts of the bill that are very disappointing and we definitely need better standards.” ©



01.16.2014 at 09:48 Reply

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppy Mills


1) There is no such thing as a "puppy mill". "Puppy mill" is not a legally defined term, it is slang used by the “animal rights” community to denigrate any and all breeders -- small or large, standard or substandard. It's the "N-word" of breeders. The phrase “puppy mill” has been promoted in the media by the animal “rights” movement, people who want to end all animal ownership. It is applied indiscriminately by these fanatics to anyone who breeds dogs. We need to stop using the discriminatory, divisive word invented by our enemies.


2) In our modern day of instant access to information it is almost impossible for anyone to raise dogs without being under scrutiny. Those horrendous photos you see in commercials for the “Humane Society” are mostly outdated or a 1 in one million exception to the care given animals by breeders everywhere. The photos are intended to shock and horrify you into giving money. Any photo can be photo shopped into looking really bad. Be skeptical. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes take it with a grain of salt.


3) There are three main types of breeders: Commercial, Pet and Hobby/show breeders. Every one of these can be a large-scale breeder, every one of these could be a substandard breeder. Commercial kennels are subject to state and/or federal oversight. Substandard care can be found with all types of breeders. It is about the standard of care, NOT the numbers. Most commercial breeders have state of the art kennels that meet USDA standards and the standards of their state laws. They are inspected at least yearly and must meet or exceed standards far higher than those expected of the average hobby breeder.


4) “Sick” puppies do not sell. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. Any dog can have health issues. Its about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers.


5) Passing laws intended to outlaw “puppy mills” will not solve any problem. Most substandard breeders are already in violation of existing laws.  New, stricter laws will only affect those who are already working to follow the laws. The only way to have any effect is to enforce the laws that are already on the books.


6) All the hobby breeders in this country cannot produce enough puppies to meet the demands of the American market. A shelter dog is NOT for every family. Shelter dogs come with baggage that can require an EXPERIENCED owner.


7) BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of dogs in shelters. We have a problem with a lack of responsible ownership, poor shelter management and poor pet distribution. Education is the key to improvement in this area.

                                                For more information: 








01.16.2014 at 03:34

Elizabeth you are a very delusional sick individual. It's sad to think that you actually believe the garbage you posted, scary to think you have animals in your care.


01.16.2014 at 07:00

Elizabeth - please put down whatever you are smoking because it has OBVIOUSLY impaired your brain!


01.16.2014 at 01:22 Reply

Elizabeth, I will respectfully disagree with you on your discussion points.

1. Puppy mills are what backyard breeders and people devoid of conscience run when forcibly mating dogs to sell their puppies. Puppy mills are run by people who do not see inherent worth in god's creatures and feel they can make a fast buck with slavery. This term is not used indiscriminately by fanatics regarding anyone who breeds dogs. I would never consider the Monks of New Skete to  be a puppy mill. I will continue to use that word because it accurately depicts what is going on.

2. Anyone who "raises dogs" should be under scrutiny. Raise is defined as "bringing something up." Puppy mills aren't raising dogs, they are abusing dogs. Anyone who thinks they can "breed" dogs for profit are woefully out of touch with our modern day society. Oh, and about those pictures to be taken with a "grain of salt." I haven't seen pictures of sick, tortured souls who a human abused, I have seen the dogs. Yes, Elizabath, you can believe what you read on the internet if you dig below the varnish.Just like any other media including newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, take your pick.

3.It looks like you covered all the apologist bases for the three main categories of breeders. I imagine these are the "breeders" whose dogs end up in pet stores? A full 25% of all dogs being brought to a shelter or dumped otherwise are "purebred" from some breeding stream. You seem to believe there is no pet overpopulation problem. You seem to lack knowledge in the background of dogs. Did you know dogs in the wild will not breed in their own gene pool? Did you know dogs in the wild only come into heat once per year? No, you probably didn't.I am surprised you didn't post any pictures of these "state of the art" kennels you are talking about. "Standard of care" means dogs socialized with humans, socialized with other dogs and having access, mostly unlimited to fresh food, fresh water and fresh air. The kind of air that you get outside. Care that includes access to a home with humans not just poop slingers and cage cleaners.

4. Sick puppies don't sell. Well, yes, they do and that's how puppy mills stay in business. Any dog can have health issues---any animal will be healthy if you start at the root. The mother's health is of prime consideration. If she is not healthy, the pups have less of a chance of being healthy. In order for the pups to be healthy, the mother has to be treated with kindness, plenty of good, healthy food, plenty of fresh water, plenty of exercise. Once born, the pups have to be treated the same way. Sick dogs do sell to the unaware public.

5. If this was a perfect world, every law that came into existence would be perfectly enforced. The laws come into existence because of unscrupulous people. People who have no conscience, people who consider other species their slaves, people who make money at the expense of life. The lawmakers have a real problem here: they lose votes if they approve laws, they lose votes if they don't. Gratefully, more and more people are becoming aware of the slave trade and the lawmakers can't ignore it any more.  If the "respectable" breeders would turn in those who are in violation, everyone would be better off. Sniff them out.

6. Every dog comes with baggage if not treated properly from day one. I can go through this again. A dog has to be treated with human kindness, have access to plenty of fresh, good food, fresh, good water, fresh air, exercise. Are you now willing to take responsibility for all the dogs you intentionally breed, for the lifetime of the dog? I think not, but I could be wrong. Do these state of the art facilities take back the dogs they intentionally breed? For the lifetime of the dog? All of them?

7. You are quite accurate when you state breeders are not the cause of dogs in shelters. Unaware people, who don't understand the responsibility of having an animal companion, are responsible. How does your operation screen and educate people when they are interested in a dog? How does your operation do ongoing behavior management when a "customer" comes to you with a problem? Do you just wash your hands of it and say it's not your problem?

You are caught up in a Machavaliian ideology that is immoral, unconscienable and unethical. To wit, it is 2014 and people are waking up to what is going on.


01.16.2014 at 07:06 Reply

This "glowing" article about the implementation of SB 130 is extremely misleading at best.  Read  this for a realy eye opener:  http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/caged-how-ohio-politicians-keep-the-states-puppy-mill-business-booming-with-little-regluation/Content?oid=3613836&showFullText=true


01.22.2014 at 01:16


Actually, you should know that SB 130 did not take effect until January 1, 2014. Your article is dated July 2013. Of course these things would have still been going on at that time because the bill had yet to be enacted. Please refrain from using terms like "misleading" until you have done your research thoroughly.