Puppy Mill Law Biting Hard
Good news for Puppy Mill opponents. In Pennsylvania, instead of breeding dogs, they’re “milking cows.” In an article appearing in the Lancaster Online, Edwin Zeiset, a kennel owner licensed to breed up to 500 dogs a year said he had no choice but to shut down. Pennsylvania’s new regulations are biting hard at dog breeders. The new regulations are so strict, “there’s just no way to have a kennel.”
At least 52 kennels in Lancaster County have closed or announced that they will close by the end of the year, because Pennsylvania’s new dog laws make it tougher to do business.
In a nutshell, Pennsylvania’s new dog laws (which took affect October 9 of this year) require breeders to increase cage sizes and provide an attached “run” so dogs can get exercise. Dogs must receive regular veterinary care and have access to water at all times. Cages can’t be stacked, and dogs can’t be kept on wire flooring. And any kennel housing 25 dogs during a year must be licensed and inspected. It also includes tougher penalties for violating those provisions.
But the rapid shutdown of these places is placing a burden on shelters. The dog rescue organization, A Tail to Tell, has been inundated with dogs of all kinds. They went from getting about 30 dogs a month to 50 dogs a week. Virtually all of the dogs were surrendered by breeders getting out of the business. Almost every rescue group around is filled to capacity with surrendered puppy mill dogs. It takes a lot of time, money, and patience to rehabilitate and care for puppy mill dogs. They are unsocialized, afraid of humans, and plagued with tons of health problems.
In response to this new bill, and to offset their “losses”, a few breeders shipped their dogs to Ohio for auction this past October. About 287 were sold, 12 to Main Line Animal Rescue and the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The dogs were filthy, terrified, and ill. The SPCA has filed cruelty charges against six breeders. Fearing prosecution, other breeders are likely to just kill their animals.
The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the Federal Humane Societies of Pennsylvania created a “Safe Harbor” program that allows kennels to relinquish unwanted dogs without fear of prosecution. So far, the Humane League of Lancaster County received 22 dogs through the program last week from a kennel in southern Lancaster.
It’s apparent puppy mill breeders are having a tough time of it. Other states are falling in line. Just this month, Governor Jim Doyle made Wisconsin the 10th state this year to sign a dog breeding act into law. Breeders will now be regulated in Wisconsin. Anyone who sells more than 25 dogs a year will have to be licensed through the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection. In order to get a license, breeders or pet stores will be inspected to make sure they are taking care of the dogs, something that has not happened in the past.
In Missouri, several animal welfare organizations have partnered together to gather more than 100,000 signatures from Missouri voters to get the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” (similar to the Pennsylvania law) placed on the November 2010 ballot.
And now, a national toll-free hotline to report suspected puppy-mill illegal activities was launched just this month by the Humane Society of the United States, which hopes callers will supply tips that increase the number of raids and prosecutions. (877-MILLTIP)
So yeah, puppy mill breeders are feeling the bite of the law. It’s the tireless effort of animal welfare groups and puppy mill opponents that is making a change. Do I feel sorry for them? HELL NO. Keep milking those cows. Last I looked, dairy products are still being sold in stores.
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