The status of “qualified breeder” is easy to attain. courtesy Flickr

SB950 brings to light the important issue of pet sales

The bill failed in the Senate, but a future version of it could be brought back up in the future.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House voted on Senate Bill 950, a new bill that would create the Pet Store Licensing Act. As of April 9, the enacting clause was stricken, meaning that the bill is no longer active.

This bill, if it had been passed, would have changed the requirements that regulate the sale of dogs in pet stores, according to a summary put together by LegiScan. That might sound like a good thing, but the legislation would likely worsen the dog overpopulation issue in Oklahoma.

According to an article from Tulsa News on 9, SB950 would have taken away local control and given it to the state. The authors of the bill believe that the state would be in a better position to regulate the sale of dogs in pet shops.

SB950 would have also allowed “qualified breeders” to sell puppies — most likely purebred — to local pet stores. The term qualified breeder essentially means nothing, as almost any person in Oklahoma or the surrounding states can get a license that allows them to breed dogs.

To become a licensed breeder, applicants are required to fill out a short application and pass an inspection. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry can deny licenses if the applicant “fails to meet the standards of animal care” or convicted of animal cruelty. Since the process isn’t that stringent, nearly anybody can obtain a license.

In addition, out-of-state breeders would be allowed to sell dogs to Oklahoma pet stores, which is a major cause for concern. Some animal welfare organizations in the surrounding area feared that if SB950 had passed, large corporations — such as Petland — would establish stores in the state and take advantage of the new law to sell puppies, which would most likely be from puppy mills.

Oklahoma does not have any regulations concerning the breeding of dogs and cats. In Tulsa, people aren’t allowed to breed animals with
out a breeder’s license, but most people do it anyway because authorities don’t actively enforce the law.

One could see how this bill might have been a good thing. Part of it would require all pet stores in the state to ensure that the animals they sell are vaccinated and microchipped. In addition, pet stores would no longer be allowed to sell pets to minors.

Provided that the demand for purebred puppies would be high enough (which it most likely would), then I could easily see out-of-state breeders selling their dogs to Oklahoma pet stores, which is the last thing this state needs.

As anyone familiar with animal rescues in Oklahoma knows, the overpopulation problem is out of control. Tulsa Animal Welfare is inundated with more animals than they have the resources to handle on a daily basis. Stray dogs and cats are a regular occurrence on Tulsa streets.

The language in the bill needs to be changed so outside breeders and large corporations that make money off of uninformed consumers would not be allowed to sell dogs or cats in Oklahoma pet stores.

Luckily, the bill most likely won’t be revived and will not move forward this session. It may be held and reviewed again next year after changes are made to its language. Local animal welfare organizations will keep a close eye on the status of the bill.

The best-case scenario would ban the sale of all dogs bred in puppy mills or registered breeders in Oklahoma pet stores. Purebred dogs often have health issues due to their genetics and the environment they are raised in, which, if they are from large-scale puppy mills, are often unsanitary. Oklahoma would do better if they encouraged pet stores to showcase dogs from local animal shelters. They are the ones that deserve a second chance.

Post Author: Hana Saad