Updates in the Fight Against Puppy Mills and Dog Auctions
The public is becoming more and more aware of the “commercial breeding” industry which too often is nothing more than puppy mills, houses of hell of dogs. Bust after bust has really brought this issue to the forefront on many states and legislators are stepping up, finally, to try to set some legislation in place in many states.
Here’s an excellent overview of who is doing what, where, and how it’s going. We can thank Mary Shaver-O’Conner of BanOhioDogAuctions.com for keeping us up to date on this important news.
1. COLORADO – Legislation introduced on January 21 in Colorado that would have limited the number of dogs breeders could keep and mandate veterinary certification exams for commercially bred dogs has been set aside indefinitely. The Colorado House Agriculture Committee voted on January 28 to table H.B. 1172, and no further hearings are scheduled at this time. The puppy mill bill, if passed in its proposed form, would:
- Limit the number of adult, unaltered dogs a breeder can maintain
- Mandate annual veterinary exams
- Prohibit individuals convicted of animal cruelty of obtaining a breeder license
2. CONNECTICUT – Lawmakers this year will decide whether pet owners should get double their money back from stores that sell them puppies, kittens and other animals with chronic disease or disabilities. Groups such as the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills, whose members include G. Kenneth Bernhard, a lawyer and former state representative from Westport, believe that wronged pet owners need more recourse. They want to be able to claim back twice the purchase price of defective animals. Bernhard said that coalition members reviewing records, traced many puppies for sale in Connecticut pet stores to so-called puppy mills in Pennsylvania and points west. “Some had some horrific violations,” Bernhard said, adding that owners have been stuck with huge veterinary bills.
The propoosed bill, S.B. 499, will also prohibit sales of animals from unlicensed facilities and require brokers to list each breeder’s name and/or USDA number on all health certificates.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Pet ‘Lemon Law’ unleashed at hearing”.
3. IDAHO – On February 17, announcement was made that an animal cruelty bill that teamed the agricultural community and a local animal welfare group together is dead for the 2009 session because of infighting between two animal welfare groups.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Animal Cruelty bill fails to enter legislature”.
4. ILLINOIS – On March 12, the House placed Cloe’s Bill (H.B. 198) on the Business and Occupational Licenses Committee’s calendar for a second reading and short debate. Named after a sole survivor of a puppy mill in Downstate Macon County, H.B. 198 is expected to have a positive impact on ending puppy mills in Illinois. The legislation, if passed in its proposed form, would:
- Create a Dog Breeder License Act, which would prevent breeders from having more than 20 unaltered dogs.
- Prohibit individuals from obtaining a dog-breeding license if they have been convicted of a felony animal-cruelty crime, including dog fighting.
- Require dog breeders to keep dogs in buildings without wire flooring and with sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation.
- Require pet stores and breeders to provide potential pet buyers with the dog’s full medical history, information of spaying and neutering and information about any prior medical care.
- Establish penalties starting with fines and escalating to having animals seized and breeding operations shut down.
5. INDIANA – H.B. 1468 (which is now an amendment to S.B. 238) was heard in the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters and is now before the House Judiciary Committee (to be voted sometime this week). There have been a couple of changes in the bill – the “pet dealer” language has been removed and the registration fees have been determined ($250 for commercial breeders; $1,000 for brokers). All other regulations have not been changed at this point. If passed, the bill will be presented to the full House for discussion and a vote.
Breeders in Indiana have formed an alliance in the past month (“Indiana Coalition For Canine Welfare”). Also, Rep. Foley again made a motion that this bill be sent to a Summer Study, which was seconded. Rep. Lawson did refuse that option. The proposed legislation is hitting some significant barriers from stakeholders tied to the commercial breeding industry. They are recommending:
- Either changing the number of unaltered dogs that a breeder can have from 30 to 50 or completely eliminating the cap altogether
- Removing the sections on requiring a breeding dog to be retired from breeding at eight years of age and limiting the number of litters a dog can produce to one per year.
- Removing the exercise requirement.
- Remove the requirement for illumination.
If adopted, H.B. 1468 would:
- Define a commercial breeder as someone who whelps more than 10 litters of puppies in a 12 month period.
- Limit 30 breeding dogs per location. (A breeding dog is defined as an unaltered dog over one year of age.)
- Require commercial breeders to register with the state, and then renew their registration every four years.
- Require commercial breeders to maintain sanitary conditions.
- Require commercial breeders to have a method in place in which to dispose of animal waste.
- Require commercial breeders to protect animals from parasites and vermin.
- Require breeding facilities to have either artificial or natural light available in areas where dogs are kept and ventilation.
- Require commercial breeding dogs have access to an exercise area at least one hour per day.
- Require commercial breeders to hire employees that have not been convicted of animal fighting or variations of Indiana Codes pertaining to animal abuse, neglect and torture.
- Require commercial breeders to offer a “Guarantee” for each dog and puppy, which would include a 15 day guarantee against disease and a one year guarantee against genetic defects. The guarantee would require a veterinary certification; the opportunity for the dog to be returned or exchanged; and limits reimbursement for veterinary bills to the cost of the puppy.
- Require breeding dogs be between the ages of 18 months and eight years and be checked by a vet annually. The bill limits the number of litters a breeding female can whelp to one every 12 months.
- Prohibit cities and counties from passing laws less stringent than the state law.
For more details concerning this legislation, we invite you to read the article, “IN Lawmakers Crack Down on Animal Cruelty and Puppy Mills”. The proposed bill – H.B. 1468 – can be read here.
6. IOWA – A proposed puppy mill bill, which will allow inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture into a USDA facility upon receipt of a complaint, has been referred to the Iowa Senate’s Agriculture Committee. A HUGE thanks to BanOhioDogAuctions.com supporter, Mary Lahay, for her tireless efforts to help draft this legislation! For more information on Mary’s efforts, we invite you to view the article, “wants puppy mill bill changed”.
The proposed House version – HF 30 – can be read here.
7. MAINE – HP 666, LD 964 An Act Pertaining to the Breeding and Selling of Dogs and Cats, introduced by Representative Wendy Pieh (D-Bremen) 3/10 and referred 3/12 to the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation And Forestry and sent for concurrence.
HP 666, LD 964 establishes three categories of breeding kennels:
- A breeding kennel that maintains at least 5 but no more than 10 female dogs or cats capable of breeding is a Category 1 breeding kennel. (Fee $75)
- A breeding kennel that maintains at least 11 but no more than 20 female dogs or cats capable of breeding is a Category 2 breeding kennel. (Fee $250)
- A breeding kennel that maintains 21 or more female dogs or cats capable of breeding is a Category 3 breeding kennel. (Fee $500)
HP 666, LD 964 creates “conditional licensing” for new applicants until inspections are performed and the kennel passes to the satisfaction of the state inspectors. HP 666, LD 964 establishes fees for follow-up inspections following an infraction. Should two or more follow-up inspections be needed in any calendar year, the department shall charge the licensee a fee equal to 50% of the original license fee for each follow-up inspection. If documents necessary for registration of a dog or cat with a pedigree registry are not provided to the buyer within 60 days of sale, the buyer is entitled to a refund of 50% of the sale price. The proposed legislation also adds a new requirement that a veterinarian must examine animal prior to sale.
The proposed bill – HP0666, LD 964 – can be read here.
8. MARYLAND – S.B. 318 (H.B. 495), which would have addressed the commercial dog breeding industry, was given an unfavorable report on March 2 by Judicial Proceedings and withdrawn. If passed, the proposed legislation would have prohibited a person from owning, possessing, controlling, or otherwise having custody of more than 50 breeding dogs over the age of four months at any time; established enclosure size and exercise requirements to be met by a person owning, possessing, controlling, or otherwise having custody of more than 10 breeding dogs over the age of four months; established a penalty for a violation of the Act; and exempted specified facilities from the requirements of the Act.
9. MINNESOTA – H.F. 253 was “laid on the table” in the House Agriculture Committee, so the proposed legislation will not pass this year. Learn more at Follow The Vote. Minnesota has no state laws to regulate the dog and cat breeding industry, and Senate File 7 (Betzold) and House File 253 (Tillberry) were introduced in the Minnesota Legislature to provide such regulation.
Kathy Bauck (Pick of the Litter) Verdict: The jury found USDA licensed breeder, Kathy Jo Bauck, not guilty of two felony counts of animal abuse and guilty of four misdemeanor counts. For more information on Kathy Bauck, click HERE.
10. MONTANA – A Ballantine woman’s animal cruelty case caught the attention of Montana lawmakers and has prompted several bills aimed at regulating dog breeders and animal hoarders.
In December, authorities seized 189 living dogs and numerous dead dogs from Linda Kapsa’s Shady Lane Kennels, triggering an animal cruelty case that prosecutors believe was the largest seizure of animals in the state. Animal rescue officials, on the scene during the seizure, described Kapsa as an animal hoarder and said her operation could be described as a puppy mill.
Sen. Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls) introduced a bill that would add hoarding to the state’s list of animal cruelty offenses, and Rep. Dave McAlpin, D-Missoula, is introducing a bill that would require commercial breeders – those with 20 or more adult dogs – to register with the state and submit to annual surprise inspections. Registration would come with a $415 biannual fee to cover the cost of inspections.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Proposed legislation would place stricter regulations on breeders” .
11. NEBRASKA – Legislation introduced on February 2 in Nebraska that would have limited the number of dogs breeders could keep and mandate veterinary certification exams for commercially bred dogs has been set aside indefinitely. State Legislators are currently voting on an amended version of this proposed bill, LB241. The Appropriations Committee of the Legislature is very seriously considering cutting the funding of the Commercial Dog and Cat Program. If one inspector is removed, it is predicted there will be a discontinuation of regular inspections of commercial kennels, dealers and pet stores, animal control facilities, boarding kennels or humane societies by the State. Inspections will only be complaint driven.
Senator Ken Haar introduced LB 677, a bill that aimed to strictly regulate commercial dog breeders in Nebraska by establishing ownership limits and dog breeding restrictions. If adopted as proposed, LB 677 would have:
- By April 1, 2010, restrict all those defined as “commercial breeders” under existing Nebraska law to owning no more than 75 dogs over the age of four months.
- Limit the breeding of purebred dogs only to dogs between the ages of 18 months and eight years of age.
- Mandate the implementation of kennel requirements, including but not limited to, climate conditions, enclosures, building materials, and construction.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Farm Bureau wary of potential pet, livestock linkage”.
12. NEW YORK – A new puppy mill bill is expected to be introduced in 2009.
To educate citizens about the horrific abuse taking place in those “beautiful white barns”, Puppymill Rescue Inc. invites animal advocates from across the country to participate in the second annual “Bark Heard around the World” to be held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY from 10AM – 4PM on Sat., May 30th, 2009.
13. NORTH CAROLINA – S.B. 460 / H.B. 460 Commercial Dog Breeders; adds commercial breeder, commercial breeding operations to SECTION 1 G.S. 19A-21 as a category along with pet shops and boarding kennels for the purpose of licensing, regulation and inspection. (5a) “Commercial breeder” means any person who, during any 12-month period, maintains 15 or more adult female dogs for the primary purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals. (5b) “Commercial breeding operation” means the physical location or facility at which a commercial breeder breeds or maintains adult female dogs and their offspring.” The proposed legislation would mandate standards for care at commercial breeding operations, including requirements for exercise, veterinary care and record keeping to be written by the NC Department of Agriculture at a later date and adds annual veterinary exam and certification for females before breeding.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Puppy mill bill gaining momentum”.
14. OHIO – Representatives Cheryl Grossman and Carlton Weddington will be introducing new legislation that will establish reasonable and enforceable shelter standards and veterinarian care for commercial breeding kennels in Ohio. Given that the new bill will rely on local enforcement with state oversight (requiring little to no additional fiscal resources from the state), it is expected the proposed legislation will please all interested stakeholders.
Also, Ohio’s constitution does allow for ballot initiatives and as many of you are aware, Ohio voters and taxpayers aren’t bashful about putting initiatives on the ballot. Since the passage of Proposition 2 in California, there has been a lot of speculation as to what state might be next, Ohio has been one of the states mentioned. It is our hope that a ballot initiative to ban dog auctions may be a very real possibility for 2009.
For more details concerning this initiative, we invite you to read the article, “A Push to Ban Dog Auctions”.
15. OKLAHOMA – The Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act, H.B. 1332, passed the House committee vote on March 4 with a wide margin of 74 to 26 in favor of the bill. The Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on Wednesday, April 1.
The proposed legislation would mandate USDA standards as a minimum for all facilities selling, trading or adopting out over 25 dogs, cats, kittens or puppies in a year.
For more details concerning this legislation, we invite you to read the article, “OK House to Vote on Puppy Mill Bill”.
16. OREGON – The Oregon legislature is considering a bill, H. B. 2470, to provide protection for breeding dogs in commercial kennels. The first hearings on the bill were held February 23 by the House Committee on Consumer Protection.
In addition to mandating minimum living conditions, the bill restricts the size of commercial breeding kennels to a maximum of 25 unaltered dogs four months or older. It also protects consumers with a tracking system which give buyers of sick or deformed animals a way to recover damages if the seller did not disclose congenital defects at the time of purchase.
The proposed House version – H.B. 2470 – can be read here.
For more details concerning this legislation, we invite you to read the article, “Oregon puppy mill hearing draws huge crowd”.
17. PENNSYLVANIA – With a vote of 192 for and 0 against, House Bill 39, amending Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code for animal cruelty and introduced by Representative Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks), passed in today’s session. The proposed legislation will impose criminal penalties for specific medical procedures if not performed by a licensed veterinarian including debarking, c-section births and tail docking. The act of ear cropping by anyone other than a vet is already prohibited in Pennsylvania.
The legislation now heads for the Senate.
18. TENNESSEE – S.b. 258, sponsored by Sen. Doug Jackson (D-25) and H.B. 386, sponsored by Rep. Janis Baird Sontany (D-53) places breeding of purebred dogs under criminal animal cruelty statutes. The bills classify a Commercial breeder as any person who possesses or maintains twenty (20) or more adult female dogs in whole or in part for the purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals. If even one litter of puppies is produced, a commercial breeder licensing would be required. Ownership of 75 is the absolute limit. Background checks will be required for applicants, and the state will determine if the applicant is of good moral character and deserving of the license.
For more information, we invite you to view the article, “Senator Hopes Legislation Ends Puppy Mills”.
Also, H.B. 1433 (Sontany)/S.B. 1322 (Berke) would prohibit public animal sales (parking lots and roadside sales) and provide restrictions on companion animals sold at flea markets. The proposed legislation would also prohibit the use of any live animal as a prize in a contest, raffle, or promotion.
19. TEXAS – H.B. 3180 will be heard at a hearing before the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures at 8:00 AM, April 1, 2009. Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who is the author of this bill, is also the Vice Chair of this Committee. The bill will provide for the licensing and regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders and the retail sale of dogs and cats. For purposes of the bill, a commercial breeder will be defined as a person having eleven or more breeding female dogs or cats.
- The bill designates the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) as the regulatory agency to administer the licensing and regulation of commercial breeders.
- The initial license fee and subsequent license fees will be established by TDLR to cover the cost of their administration and enforcement of the statute. A commercial breeder’s license will not be transferable and will be valid for one year. A license holder will be subject to inspections and will be required to file annual reports regarding its operations for the past year.
- TDLR will establish standards of care and confinement which must be followed by a license holder and will include rules for proper feeding, watering, housing, care (including veterinary care), grooming, treatment, transportation and disposition of dogs and cats to ensure the overall health and welfare of each animal in the facility.
- The bill also includes protection for consumers. All retail sales of dogs and cats will require the seller to furnish the buyer with information about the breed, age and health of the animal, along with a statement of the buyer’s rights. Buyers will have the right to obtain reimbursement for veterinary expenses and/or the value of the animal if the animal becomes sick or dies within twenty days after the animal is purchased.
- Criminal and civil penalties can be imposed for violation of the statute or any rules adopted thereunder.
For more details concerning this legislation, we invite you to read the article, “Puppy Mill Bill introduced in Texas by State Rep. Thompson”.
20. WASHINGTON – In the wake of the recent seizures of hundreds of sick or neglected dogs from alleged puppy mill operations in Skagit and Snohomish counties, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would regulate breeders who own a large number of dogs. A Senate committee on Monday discussed the bill, which would provide “humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices” by limiting breeders to keeping a maximum of 25 dogs at any one location and also by setting strict guidelines for the housing and care of the animals.
For more details concerning this legislation, we invite you to read the article, “Lawmakers Consider Bill Targeting Puppy Mills”.
21. WISCONSIN – If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to read the following article, “Rescue Me”, in the March 6, 2009 issue of The Isthmus regarding the growing problem of commercial breeding kennels in Wisconsin. Your feedback to the reporter is encouraged and welcomed!
Also, don’t forget that the next scheduled Buckeye Dog Auction is expected to take place on Saturday, May 9, 2009. Additional details regarding this event (as they become available) will be posted to the Home page of http://www.banohiodogauctions.com/.
Let’s hope these small but important steps will help set the tone as a model for other states, causing a ripple effect of positive change benefiting companion animals.
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