A measure to regulate Oklahoma’s $30 million dog- and cat-breeding industry moved another step closer to becoming law Wednesday. House Bill 1332 passed the House 74-26. It now goes to the Senate.
The measure would have the Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department license and regulate people, shelters or businesses that acquire or sell 35 or more domestic dogs and cats within a year in Oklahoma. "This legislation simply establishes common-sense standards in Oklahoma that will allow legitimate breeders to continue their operations while weeding out those who mistreat animals,” said Rep. Lee Denney, the author of the measure. Denney, R-Cushing, submitted an amendment that excluded rescue agencies and foster groups from being regulated. Denney, a veterinarian, said the lack of regulations has created an environment in which unlicensed dog breeders know they won’t face serious penalties "until they have completely crossed the line into outright cruelty.” Oklahoma is the second-largest exporter of puppies and kittens to be sold as pets, she said. Under the bill, the Agriculture Department would be allowed to conduct regular inspections to ensure animal abuse is not occurring.