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Pet breeders bill wins Oklahoma House approval

The measure would place the pet breeders board under the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department. House Bill 2921 now heads to the Senate.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 18, 2012
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The state Board of Agriculture would develop rules regulating commercial pet breeders under the latest version of a bill that would dissolve the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders.

The House of Representatives voted 89-1 to approve House Bill 2921. It now goes to the Senate.

The measure would eliminate the pet breeders board and transfer its duties to the Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department.

HB 2921 would require the Board of Agriculture to develop rules regulating commercial pet breeders. It also calls for the board to establish procedures for license application and renewal procedures and fees, as well as minimum standards for dogs and cats.

Breeders who apply for a license no later than Sept. 1 would be exempt from cage-size requirements more stringent than U.S. Agriculture Department standards, according to the measure. Cages replaced after Sept. 1 must meet state requirements for cage sizes.

Rep. Phil Richardson, the author of HB 2921, said commercial pet breeders support moving the board under the state Agriculture Department.

“It is a good thing that we have some oversight of this industry,” said Richardson, R-Minco, who is a retired veterinarian. “It just made a lot more sense to get it under the Department of Ag, who is equipped for this sort of thing.”

The Commercial Pet Breeders Board was formed two years ago to regulate and license certain dog and cat breeders.

Some breeders have complained the board was heavy-handed in enforcing its rules.

Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, said some board members “abused that board to get to their own agenda, which put some of our small business owners — pet breeders — out of business in the state of Oklahoma.”

“I think you're 100 percent right,” Richardson said.

Any commercial pet breeder who has renewed its Commercial Pet Breeders license by July 1 would have the license automatically transferred to the Agriculture Department, he said. No additional fee would be charged for the transfer.

The requirements do not apply to breeders with 10 or fewer nonspayed female animals.

Richardson said intact female dogs that a breeder is training and not breeding wouldn't be counted as a dog used for breeding.

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