Ohio bill would override local pet store regulation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would keep municipalities from regulating pet stores.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee last week put an amendment into an unrelated state tax cleanup bill that would trump such attempts by cities like Grove City, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/23vutUG).

City Council members in Grove City voted in March to only allow pet stores to purchase animals from animal shelters, humane-society shelters and rescue groups. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2017. The ordinance blocks stores from getting animals from high-volume breeders, which critics contend are often “puppy mills” that treat animals poorly.

Petland, Grove City’s only store that sells cats and dogs, sued the city to block it, and then took the issue to state lawmakers.

The bill’s amendment states that regulating pet stores is a matter of general statewide interest that requires statewide regulation.

Mike Gonidakis, an attorney and lobbyist for Petland, said the amendment creates first-ever specific regulations for pet store buying standards, ensuring that puppies come only from shelters, rescues and reputable breeders with no state violations for three years.

“This is as consumer-friendly and pet-friendly an amendment as you can get,” he said.

Amy Jesse, of the Humane Society of the United States, noted that the bill states that pet stores have to “knowingly” violate the law, which could be a tough standard to prove.

“Everything about this leads to the fact that it’s really difficult to enforce and basically gives a free pass to the pet stores,” she said.

House Bill 166 could pass the Senate as early as this week.


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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