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The HSUS Applauds Indiana Committee for Passing Bill to Crack Down on Animal Cruelty

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauds Indiana legislators serving on the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee for passing an anti-animal cruelty bill that strengthens penalties for animal abuse, including a provision that provides basic standards of care for mass dog breeding facilities known as puppy mills. The bill was introduced by state Reps. Linda Lawson (D-1) and Jackie Walorski (R- 21) at yesterday's committee meeting, with Reps. Trent VanHaaften (D-76) and Tim Neese (R-48) as co-sponsors of the legislation. The bill will next go to the full House for a vote.  

"Indiana is not a state that will tolerate abuse of animals," said Rep. Lawson. "This bill should send a message to those inside our state that we will not tolerate mistreatment of animals. I am pleased that members of the Criminal Code Committee agreed that it was time to implement higher standards for Indiana. "

The bill (H.B. 1468) is a major upgrade of Indiana's animal cruelty statute, which strengthens penalties and also authorizes courts to prohibit a person who has been convicted of animal cruelty from owning other animals in the future. The bill also adds makes it an offense to neglect animals by failing to provide them with shelter or medical treatment. Current Indiana law does not require individuals to provide their animals with shelter, which can be fatal, particularly in current weather conditions. Two weeks ago, a dog in Lake County was found frozen to his chain in his backyard. Nearly 40 other states have shelter requirements in their anti-cruelty codes.

The current Indiana law is also ineffective in providing humane care for dogs and fails to provide information for consumers who purchase puppies from pet stores and puppy mills. An amendment that was added to the anti-cruelty bill will finally provide basic protections for dogs and consumers.

"Thousands of dogs are suffering in puppy mills throughout our state. These dogs will never know the pleasure of a treat, a toy or the feeling of grass under their feet, but today, thanks to the action of the committee — they have hope for a better life," said Anne Sterling, The HSUS's Indiana state director. "The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Rep. Lawson and Rep. Walorski for their dedication to this important anti-cruelty legislation. Man's best friend should be treated like a part of the family, not like a cash crop."

Puppy mills are breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy conditions with inadequate shelter and lack socialization or human companionship.

The new amendment will prevent the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills by providing a maximum cap of  30 breeding dogs older than one-year, and requiring basic standards of care. In addition, dogs must be able to exercise outside their cages for an hour a day and  female dogs are only allowed to breed one litter per year. New legislation further requires that breeding facilities be consistently cleaned and constructed to protect dogs from disease and injury, be free of wire flooring, and have sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation.

"This is an important step forward in the process of eliminating puppy mills in the State of Indiana," said Rep. Walorski. "There have been several raids of large puppy mills with numerous cases of neglect and cruelty in this State in the past year. My hope is that this bill continues to move thru the House and Senate with bipartisan support."

Pet stores will also have new requirements to follow. Stores will now be required to provide consumers with important information about a dog's origin, by posting the name, city and state of each dog's breeder as well as any brokers involved. Pet stores must maintain veterinary records on each animal and make them available to purchasers or prospective purchasers. Further, a lemon law will provide refunds or reimbursement of vet bills for consumers that have purchased sick dogs or dogs with congenital problems.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at  humanesociety.org.