Ohio legislators have approved the Department of Agriculture’s appropriation request of $500,000 to help oversee puppy mills. The money will be used to reimburse dog breeders and retailers for federal background checks and to pay for other expenses. Under a new state law, breeders producing nine litters of puppies and who sell 60 or more dogs per year are mandated to get a license. Application fees range from $150 to $750, depending on the number of annual dog sales. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty or animal fighting crimes within the last 20 years can be denied a license. Breeders can have their licenses revoked if mistreatment of their animals is discovered. The state agriculture department is responsible for overseeing care standards for breeders. Yearly inspections are mandatory to ensure breeders are conforming. Established breeders are supposed to apply for licenses by Jan. 1. The deadline for submitting completed applications is Dec. 31. Failing to do so could result in fines or other sanctions. Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, reports that the agency has hired four inspectors and an administrator for the dog breeding program, which is overseen by the assistant state veterinarian. Will this protect dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd and Golden Retriever - the most often bred dogs in puppy mills? It is definitely a good start.