Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, wrote and filed two bills – House Bill 1581 and House Bill 1580 – designed to protect animals, according to an Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus news release.
House Bill 1581 prohibits pet stores from selling commercially-bred animals. However, stores would be allowed to continue offering animals for adoption from in-state rescues and shelters.
The bill aims to deliver a blow to the puppy mill industry while supporting animal shelters that are filled with dogs in need of a home.
“Unfortunately, puppy mills do still exist. Commercial retailers purchasing these animals are what is keeping the industry alive,” Dollens said. “Additionally, our shelters are at times overrun with dogs without owners to claim them. This legislation protects animals and helps shelters find homes for the animal in their care.”
House Bill 1580 introduces requirements for the way dogs are kept outside, addressing the type of tether, use of chains and padlocks, as well as being left in severe weather for prolonged periods.
“I would like to think that all Oklahomans treat their pets humanely,” Dollens said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. This legislation puts into place minimum protections that will protect animals.”
Dollens said while these dog-centric bills may not be as important as other bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, quality of life for all Oklahomans, including the four-legged ones, matters.
“I remain dedicated to finding solutions for the problems Oklahomans have experienced during COVID,” Dollens said. “How we treat animals speaks to our humanity. We must treat animals with respect.”
HB1581 will be heard in the House Business and Commerce Committee.
HB1580 is scheduled for the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.