Hobby dog breeders forced to pay for $500 ‘pet store’ license or face $10k fine

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WDTN) – Even if you sell one dog a year in Ohio, if you do it in a certain way, currently you could be considered a pet store by the state — and subject to a 500 dollar license requirement.

Cathy Talik and her husband Mike breed Miniature Schnauzers for a hobby, but now the Department of Agriculture wants them to register as a pet store.

Cathy has been breeding Miniature Schnauzers for 20 years and she has spent a lot of time researching and perfecting what she calls a hobby.

“I get a thrill every time I hand somebody a healthy puppy,” she said.

That thrill soured earlier this month when the Department of Agriculture sent her a letter telling her they had received a complaint that she was operating as a pet store without a license.

“We’ll I thought, this is a mistake. You know? This doesn’t fit me, I’m not a high-volume breeder, I’m not a pet store,” she said.

She’s right on the first one, but depending on how she handles the sale of the puppies, she may be considered a pet store.

According to the Department of Agriculture, if the buyer and the seller are in the physical presence of the dog during the sales transaction, the seller is considered a pet store thanks to a bill that was passed in 2016.

Not paying for a 500 dollar license could cost the seller up to 10 thousand dollars in fines.

Since receiving the letter, Cathy has heard from other hobby breeders being sent the same letter.

“Some are paying it, because they’re afraid, and some are hiding; so they’re hoping that the bill will be changed or amended and that this will get them out of it before they do pay,” Talik said.

As for Cathy, she isn’t planning to pay for a license, but the prospect of never breeding again is difficult for her to accept.

“It hurts. It really hurts after trying to do something right,” she said.

Lawmakers say the law was never intended to impact small hobbyists like Cathy, and they’re going to look into possibly changing it so that it doesn’t in the future.

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