VAN WERT — Bobbie Sterrett may be allergic to dogs, but that isn’t stopping her from trying to save them from puppy mills.
“I’m around dogs almost every day. When I volunteer at the humane society, I take care of the cats mainly, but when I walk through them, I’m not going to turn down a lick or a hug,” she said. Unsurprisingly, she goes through a lot of allergy medicine.
Sterrett, 62, has been traveling around Van Wert and the surrounding region to get a law on the books that better defines how commercial dog breeders treat their animals.
Known as the Ohio Puppy Mill Prevention Amendment, the bill requires 400,000 signatures from around Ohio to get on May’s ballot, and Sterrett is working diligently to ensure voters get a chance to pass it. The group organizing the petition is Stop Puppy Mills Ohio.
“I’m just a person that wants these animals helped,” Sterrett said.
Ohio does have laws on the books requiring commercial dog breeders to be registered and inspected every year, but they don’t go far enough in defining what is to be expected by the industry, Sterrett said.
“The puppies can’t walk, because their paws go through the wire cage floors. They’re not protected from the weather. They’re not exercised … This is the life they lead, and they can’t even turn around in the cage. This law spells out how much space they should have.”
Under the bill, Ohio breeders with eight or more breeding female dogs must provide clean water, nutritious food twice a day, socialization with humans and other dogs, access to outdoor exercise areas and protection from extreme temperatures. It also requires that dogs have veterinarian care, and enclosures must be non-stacked and of a certain size depending on the weight of the dog.
Anyone selling 15 dogs or more will also be required to ensure dogs come from registered breeders.
Ohio is home to 533 licensed dog breeders, but the Ohio Department of Agriculture has recognized nearly 900 breeders that need to be inspected to see if they fit the current law’s requirements of commercial breeders.
“The animals can’t talk for themselves, we have to talk for them,” Sterrett said. “If we get this on the ballot, millions of dogs will be saved.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.