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
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.
Under HB 2921, the Agriculture Department would arrange for an annual inspection of each dog- or cat-breeding
It must inspect them before issuing an initial
The department would be able to deny or revoke a license if the person is convicted of a crime involving animal cruelty or of violent felony offenses. The board also may revoke or deny a license if a person's license pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act was revoked or denied due to improper care of animals.
The measure also requires that breeders must report annually to the department the number of adult males and other information about the prior year's operations. Breeders must also keep a health record for each animal that shows the inoculations and medications given.
Violations can result in a penalty of between $100 and $10,000, with each animal, each action or each day being a violation.
A facility cannot be charged more than $10,000 in administrative penalties in a license year.
HB 2921 also would set up a revolving fund in the Agriculture Department that will be used to pay for the care of abused dogs and cats found by inspectors, or puppies and kittens from a breeder whose operations were shut down. About $222,000 may be left in the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders' accounts, Richardson said. The funds would be transferred to the revolving fund. Private donations also may be made to the fund.
The Board of Commercial Pet Breeders has gone through two executive directors, with its first director quitting in September just a few days before inspectors were to begin enforcing commercial breeding laws.
A second director was hired in December, but he resigned two weeks later. The board has issued fewer than 300 licenses since it began enforcing its rules in October.
“They didn't get the people licensed that they needed to for this thing,” Richardson said.
At one time, it was estimated as many as 1,900 breeders were in the state. It's believed some have reduced their operations to fewer than 10 nonspayed females to avoid having to be licensed.