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Dog kennel inspectors will be focused on Holmes County, surrounding area

Holmes County and the surrounding area will see the lion’s share of inspections under the so-called puppy mill bill.

Veterinarian Terence Kline met with the Holmes County commissioners Monday, May 6, to discuss House Bill 130, also known as the puppy mill bill. The bill requires commercial dog breeders whose kennels turn out nine or more litters per year be inspected by state officers annually.

Kline is the veterinary medical officer leading the inspections.

Kline, who hails from Orrville, said inspectors will be most active in Holmes, Wayne, Tuscarawas, Coshocton and Ashland counties.

“Our inspectors will be bracketed in this area,” Kline said.

Holmes County, with 393 registered kennels, is right at the heart of the commercial dog breeding industry, Kline said. Kline said that the greatest concentration of commercial dog breeders appears to be in proximity with Ohio’s Amish Country, but said that there are ‘English’ breeders out there as well. All will be treated the same, Kline said.

Ohio has an estimated 3,000 kennels that fall under the auspices of HB 130, according to Kline. The inspection staff currently numbers seven, including Kline; Kline, as the program’s vet, a program administrator and five inspectors. The five inspectors are not veterinarians and come from “a wide variety of experience,” Kline said, including workers formerly employed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a vet tech and animal inspector.

Kline said he is in the process of identifying the number of commercial dog kennels in Ohio. The guidelines for inspection have yet to be written, Kline said.

Kline said his small staff are looking at an overwhelming number of inspections. If the rough estimate of 3,000 kennels is correct, each inspector, working five days a week, excluding holidays, will have to get in six kennel inspections per day.

Kline said inspection of some of the larger kennel operations could each take a day or two.

However, Kline said he expects the program “to be on cruise control” within three years, with non-compliant breeders weeded out and responsible breeders operating in accordance with the state’s requirements. Inspections should not take as long if breeders are doing what they should, Kline said.

Kline said it is not his intention to come in and shut down the dog breeding industry. He plans to have inspectors visit the kennels prior to the first inspection and inform breeders where they may be out of compliance. The inspection will be carried out a few weeks later.

“I intend this to be as friendly as possible...Fair is exactly the word. We’re going to treat everyone the same,” Kline said. “We’re here to assist.”

Poorly run kennels will not be tolerated, however.

“They come into line or they go into another business,” Kline said.

The commissioners agreed that they are okay with dog breeding in the county as long as it is carried out humanely. Commissioner Joe Miller said he is for commercial dog breeding, “but it has to be done right.”

HB 130 was signed into law by Gov. Kasich Dec. 11, 2012.

Published: May 13, 2013
New Article ID: 2013705139857