Can agriculture department enforce rules of pet breeding?
In response to Gary Roberts (Your Views, June 6): Many Oklahomans were disappointed with the Legislature's assignment of the oversight of the breeding of dogs and cats to the Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department after eliminating the newly created Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders. As Roberts pointed out, the Board of Agriculture has responsibility for animal husbandry of food animals but no experience with monitoring the breeding of pet animals. Such monitoring is needed in Oklahoma due to the large number of unlicensed pet breeding facilities — approximately 1,900 — many of which operate under poor conditions that damage our state's image.
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The Board of Commercial Breeders, created last year, was given no startup funding and was instructed to operate with income obtained from licensing. Sufficient funds didn't materialize due to lack of compliance by breeders. Also, there was intense political opposition to the establishment of basic rules for pet breeding in spite of the clear need for such rules. Two board chairmen resigned without explanation; one can imagine their frustration.
Instead of assisting the new board in achieving its charge, the reaction of the Legislature was to abolish it and sweep the oversight responsibility into the agriculture department, where the priorities of licensing and rule enforcement are now in question. The actions taken — or not taken — by the agency should be closely monitored by Oklahomans interested in pet welfare.
The lesson learned here: Keep your representatives on notice that breeding practices for dogs and cats must improve — and soon.
Paul B. McCay, Oklahoma City
Readers wishing to respond to a letter to the editor can submit a response.
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