Humane regulations for puppy mills is a subject close to my heart and as a WI transplant, I know how lax the laws are here. Wisconsin has no state regulations, none!  More and more puppy mills are popping up all over the state and the Thorp Dog Auction is a dumping ground for breeders to get rid of unwanted dogs.  For a decade there have been attempts to impose some kind of regulation without luck.  Commercial dog breeding is big business generating big dollars and big dollars can buy a lot of support and opposition.

“In recent years there’s been a substantial upswing in the number of ‘puppy mills,’ or large breeding facilities, coming to the state of Wisconsin,” said Tony Enea, board president for the Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee.

“What’s happening is those facilities are coming to Wisconsin, where we are not regulated, so we’ve had a 300 percent increase between 1999 and 2007 in large scale breeding facilities otherwise known as puppy mills.”

Now a new bill has been introduced to make some changes. WI state Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) are co-sponsors for the Commercial Dog breeders Licensure Bill. This bill would require breeder that sell over 25 dogs to be licensed.

The bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls), hope the bill will weed out irresponsible breeders and halt the reputation that Wisconsin is gaining as a haven for puppy mills. They feel the revised bill avoids many of the problems that plagued previous attempts at passing this legislation.

The new bill sets the threshold for dog facility licensing at those breeders producing 25 or more dogs per year. The last attempt at legislation set the bar at 50, which was ultimately deemed to be too high. “Home breeders who produce one or two litters a year as a hobby” won’t be affected, said Smith.

The bill will also require that licenses be obtained by people operating auctions selling over 50 dogs a year, an animal shelter housing at least 25 dogs a year, and animal control facilities under contracts with local governments. The goal is to curb shelters that are too large to care for their dogs properly and the growing phenomenon of false rescues that provide substandard care and may be trying to profit from dog sales.

Persons who provide foster care for dogs in their homes under the auspices of a licensed animal shelter will not need to get their own licenses.

“We want people to feel like they can trust that the puppy they buy is healthy” and was raised in a safe and caring environment, said Kreitlow.

The new bill requires inspections and approval of facilities before a license is granted, a key flaw in the last attempt. It does not have a “puppy lemon law” component to require sellers to take back dogs, a provision that complicated past legislation. And it covers only dogs, not other pets. (The Daily Page)

It looks like they are looking at past proposals and the reasons they failed, trying to address those reason and come up with a proposal that will work. There is no doubt this bill will face massive opposition but I hope this time we will finally get something passed here is WI.  It is so long overdue.

Commercial dog breeders are not going away but it is necessary that if we have to have them, they be regulated and force breeders to behave responsibly.

To find out more, check out the WI Puppy MIll Project, which in association with other WI groups and organizations, shelters, has been working diligently for years to make a difference – Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project

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This is something I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on. It’s been heartbreaking to see proposal after proposal shot down knowing how dogs and puppies were suffering.  I remember last year after Jeff Smith got a look at the puppy mill and auction industry he promised to work to make changes so I’ve been waiting for this.  In WI, wildlife is better protected than companion animals in breeding facilities.

Get with it WI!! The eyes of the nation and animal and dog lovers everywhere are on us to do the right thing.  Don’t let us down.

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