Stop Painful Surgeries

Stop breeders from performing painful surgeries on dogs

ODA’s Efforts to Pass Rules Allowing Dow Breeders to Perform Surgery on Dogs

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) proposed rule package for commercial dog breeders, that was sent to Ohio’s Joint Commission on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) for an April hearing, would not have been tabled without Ohio Animal Advocates (OAA) and the Animal Welfare Institute’s efforts to stop two abominable proposals. After a hearing on the proposed rule package at ODA – it was evident that ODA would not consider any changes to their rule package. After several weeks of advocating to members and staff on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review and to the public through media interviews, the proposed rules OAC 901:1-6-05 (F), which would allow breeders to perform tail docking and dew claw removal procedures on puppies without a veterinarian present, or pain medication or anesthesia, and 901:1-6-08 (A), which would allow breeders to perform their own background checks, were tabled. 

JCARR tabled proposed rule OAC 901:1-6-05 (F) before the JCARR hearing based on the strong case presented by OAA Executive Director Vicki Deisner that according to Ohio Revised Code, breeders are not allowed to perform surgical procedures on dogs. At the JCARR hearing on April 26, 2022, Executive Director Vicki Deisner, Board Member and veterinarian Joanna Reens, Advocacy Assistant Lilah Foley, and interns Carli Frey and Nandita Gaddam testified against proposed rule OAC 901:1-6-08 (A). OAA Board, staff, and interns argued that Ohio Revised Code mandates that the state agency must do criminal background checks on breeders. JCARR tabled proposed rule OAC 901:1-6-08 (A), sending ODA back to the drawing board with the suggestion that ODA should use the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to do background checks similar to that of other state agencies. 

View this article where OAA’s Executive Director Vicki Deisner explains these rules and the horrific consequences that would have happened if these rules were passed.

ODA revised its criminal background rule to include Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the review process. At the June JCARR hearing, the revised rule was accepted with the recommendation that ODA do a background check on a regular basis.

However, ODA has not revised the rule to stop the breeders from performing tail docking and dewclaw removal on puppy mill dogs. OAA and our members must be vigilant in monitoring when ODA refiles these rules and be ready to advocate for humane regulations that help, not hurt, animals in Ohio’s puppy mills.

History of Puppy Mill Regulation in Ohio

In 2012, the first Ohio law to regulate puppy mills (S.B. 130 sponsored By Senator Jim Hughes), was passed, the Governor had a ceremonial signing in early 2013 at Columbus Humane, and ODA drafted regulations that were approved by JCARR. In S.B. 130 and regulations drafted by ODA, the regulations matched the law in stating, “Surgical procedures, except between two to five days of age the removal of the dew claw and tail docking, shall only be done by a licensed veterinarian” (OAC Rule 901:1-6-05 (N)).

In 2016, Petland pushed a bill, even though Ohio is a home rule state, that prohibited municipalities from banning pet stores from purchasing puppies from puppy mills and rolled back several protections for puppy mill dogs passed in the S.B. 130.  

In 2018, HSUS ran a ballot initiative to address some of the protections lost for puppy mill dogs in the Petland bill and to improve the standards of care. Brian Hall, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, facilitated a discussion between HSUS, the breeders, OVMA and Sportsmens. The ballot initiative was dropped, and H.B. 506 was passed with a significant amount of the changes advocated for in the ballot initiative, including ORC Section 956.031 (V), that states “If a surgical or euthanasia procedure is required, use a veterinarian to perform the procedure.” An MOU was signed by all parties that stated none of the parties could advocate for any changes in ORC Section 956 for ten years. 

Even though H 506 was passed in 2018, ODA did not do the five-year rule review with JCARR until 2018 and did not change rule 901:1-5-06 (N) to meet the change in the law that prohibits commercial dog breeders from performing surgical procedures. By proposing 901:1-5-06 (F), which states, “Surgical procedures, except between two to five days of age the removal of the dew claw and tail docking, shall only be done by a licensed veterinarian,” ODA has repeated the regulation it passed in 2013 which conflicts with the current law ORC Section 956.031 (V). ODA is circumventing the law by proposing the same regulation to allow breeders to perform these surgical procedures.

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and OAA testified at the April JCARR hearing to the fact that the ODA’s current rule OAC 901: 1-6-05 (N) and proposed rules OAC 901:1-6-05 (F) violate JCARR standards as the rules conflict with current law. The proposed regulation OAC Rule 901: 1-6-05 (F) was tabled. ODA has not submitted a revised regulation, and thus the existing OAC Rule 901: 1-6-05 (N) remains in place, violating the current law ORC Section 956.031 (V).

Performing improper surgical procedures such as dew claw removals and tail dockings can result in the prolonged suffering of puppies and dogs. Allowing a person to perform these surgical procedures on an animal, regardless of age, without proper pain management and anesthesia would be considered animal cruelty, torture, and torment in violation of ORC 959.131-B. ODA lacks the authority to enact regulations that allow anyone other than veterinarians to conduct such surgical procedures.

Introduction of Ohio House Bill 725 to Ban Breeders from Performing Surgery on Dogs

On 9/21/22, OAA held a statehouse press event with Rep. Lanese to introduce Ohio H.B. 725, which bans commercial dog breeders from performing surgical procedures on canines. H.B. 725, sponsored by Reps. Lanese and Hoops and co-sponsored by Reps. Brinkman, Carruthers, Denson, Adam Miller, Schmidt, and Tom Young eliminates the conflict in the interpretation of “surgical procedures” between regulations (OAC 901:1-6-05) promulgated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Revised Code. H.B. 725 clearly prohibits a person other than a licensed veterinarian from performing these painful surgical procedures such as tail docking, dewclaw removal, and dentals on a dog.

OAA asks all our members and supporters to contact their Ohio state representative and urge them to support Ohio H.B. 725, as we have just a few months left in 2022 to pass this bill out of the legislature and get it to the Governor’s desk. Use OAA’s action alert to send an email to your state representative today, and spread the word on social media to protect animals from these painful surgeries. View OAA’s H.B. 725 factsheet here.

View the video recap of the press event, and the Toledo BladeHerald-Star, and Hannah Report articles that discuss the importance of passing Ohio H.B. 725.