COLUMBUS -- A lawmaker panel has signed off on $500,000 in spending authority for the state's efforts to oversee puppy mills.
The Controlling Board recently OK'd the Department of Agriculture's appropriation request without comment, with funds slated to be used for payroll and other expenses, including reimbursements to dog breeders and retailers for federal background checks.
The outlay will be covered through fees paid by breeders, with collections starting this month.
Under a new state law, breeders who produce nine litters of puppies and who sell 60 or more dogs annually are required to obtain a license.
Application fees range from $150 to $750, depending on the number of dogs sold in a year. Licenses can be denied to individuals convicted of animal cruelty or animal fighting crimes in the past 20 years or revoked if breeders mistreat their animals.
The state agriculture department is responsible for housing, nutrition, exercise and other care standards for breeders, with inspections annually to ensure those standards are being followed.
Existing breeders are supposed to apply for licenses by Jan. 1. The deadline for submitting completed applications is Dec. 31; those failing to do so could face enforcement actions.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has hired four inspectors and an administrator for the dog breeding program, said Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the agency. Three additional support staff are splitting their time between that program and the state's dangerous wild animal program; the assistant state veterinarian oversees both programs.
The agency expects at least 300 breeders will seek commercial dog breeding licenses, based on a survey conducted earlier this year, Hawkins said.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.