The images are distressing — puppies crowded into cages with no place to even lie down, living in their own excrement. The standard of care for dogs and cats can be a very emotional issue and Oklahoma is at the crossroads of an important decision — whether to require minimum standards of care for animal breeding and handling. The Pet Quality Assurance legislation of 2009 (House Bill 1332) is moving through the Legislature giving lawmakers the opportunity to set minimum standards to protect animals and the public health. Oklahoma produces the second-largest population of puppies and kittens in the United States. Tens of millions of dollars in sales revenue are generated each year in the sale of these animals. Most animal breeders are humane and reputable, but their livelihood is threatened by disreputable animal dealers pouring into the state. Oklahoma is the only state of its size that does not have standards for pet breeding and handling facilities. Oklahoma is attracting the worst of the worst animal dealers because surrounding states have adopted minimal standards for breeding facilities. The higher standards in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and states to the north are pushing substandard dog and cat dealers into Oklahoma. They are offering low-quality animals for a low price and an unknowing public is buying these animals, putting the reputable breeders out of business. These poorly operated animal facilities also pose a risk to the public. With virtually no veterinary oversight, the risk of human transmission of up to 20 animal diseases and parasites has escalated. Some diseases such a Giardia and round worms are of particular threat to children and Toxoplasma is a potential threat to the unborn child. Reputable puppy and kitten dealers offer veterinary protection against the transmission of these diseases. The Pet Quality Assurance Act of 2009 would create a state licensing program that would provide minimum standards for breeding, sales, care and transport of dogs and cats for commercial sale, handling or rescue. The act would require the minimal standards as set out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These regulations do not place an undue burden on reputable puppy and kitten breeders. Many breeders and handlers already meet the criteria for housing, sanitation, nutrition, hydration, veterinary care and record keeping but those substandard ones will be required to upgrade their operations to meet those minimum requirements. These standards will increase the quality of pets available to Oklahoma animal lovers, will drive out the substandard animal dealers, increase sales revenue for the state, protect the public against poor quality facilities and most of all — will give Oklahoma pets a better life. Mollet is immediate past president of the Oklahoma State Veterinarians Association.