How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Ohio is taking steps to make dog welfare a priority, after years of criticism over its lenient animal protection laws. Breeders and commercial kennel owners are now subject to new laws and possible penalties for animal cruelty.
Ohio has now joined the majority of other American states in regulating abusive puppy mills, ending the state’s reputation as one where widespread animal abuse and cruelty went largely unpunished.
New Regulations for Puppy Mills
What is a puppy mill? It’s a large scale breeder who raises dogs commercially and sells them to pet stores for resale or to private buyers over the internet. Often the conditions under which the breeding mothers are kept are horrific, and Ohio had become a haven for such horrendous factories.
New regulations that just went into effect raise the standards for treatment of dogs housed in breeding mills, requiring that:
- the breeding facilities obtain a state license
- the dogs be housed in clean cages with adequate space
- the dogs receive veterinary care
- the breeders must carry insurance
- the breeders are subject to annual state inspections to ensure compliance with these regulations
An End to Animal Cruelty in Shelters and Kennels
On the animal cruelty front, newly enacted “Nitro’s Law” (HB 90, effective June 30, 2013) covers any facility that holds a commercial kennel license, whether it is a boarding, training, breeding, or rescue facility. This law does not apply to puppy mills, which are covered by the regulations already mentioned. Nitro was a pet dog who was lodged in a commercial kennel and starved to death along with seven other dogs. At the time, animal abuse of this kind was only a misdemeanor in Ohio, so little incentive existed for kennel owners and employees to use an adequate standard of care in providing for the dogs in their custody.
A slew of animal abuse cases across Ohio made the news during the last year, and propelled Nitro’s Law through the legislature after advocates spent many years trying to toughen Ohio’s animal abuse laws. Nitro’s Law punishes kennel owners and employees who fail to provide food, adequate shelter, veterinary care or water to the animals in their care with felony rather than misdemeanor sanctions.
If you are the operator or employee of a commercial kennel, a rescue kennel, a commercial breeder, a veterinary hospital, or puppy mill, you may wish to consult with the experienced and dedicated Ohio criminal defense firm, Yavitch & Palmer, Co., LPA in order to understand your rights and obligations under these new laws. Our highly rated firm handles only criminal defense cases and can give you the advice you seek about animal abuse laws, potential criminal liabilities and what steps to take to protect yourself from felony prosecution.