Animal rights advocates won approval from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday to start circulating a petition to put an anti-puppy mill issue before voters.
Stop Puppy Mills Ohio is proposing a constitutional amendment to require dog breeders — those with eight or more unspayed females and annual sales of more than 15 dogs — to meet certain animal care standards. The proposed amendment also calls for a ban on dog sales from breeders who fail to meet the standards.
The standards include making sure the dogs have adequate food, clean water, veterinarian care, exercise and socialization. The amendment calls for a ban on housing dogs in stacked cages and mandates providing each dog with enough indoor space to turn around, lie down and stretch. It also spells out safe breeding practices.
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The group aims to put the issue on the November 2018 statewide ballot.
“Ohio is an infamous puppy mill state and is home to hundreds of commercial breeding facilities,” the group says on its website. “Ohio’s current law has failed to solve Ohio’s massive puppy mill problem.”
In 2012, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a requirement that dog breeders who sell at least nine litter a year to register with the state and get their kennels inspected by the state. But the anti-puppy mill campaign says those standards are too weak and enforcement is difficult.
Stop Puppy Mills Ohio says there are 260 federally-licensed commercial breeders in Ohio.
The campaign will need to collect 305,591 valid voter signatures by the July deadline to get on the November 2018 ballot.