February 20, 2009
Ind. House Passes Bill to Crack Down on Animal Cruelty, Puppy Mills
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Indiana House of Representatives for passing an anti-animal cruelty bill yesterday, by a bipartisan vote of 81-14, 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 (H.B. 1468) is a major upgrade of Indiana's previous animal cruelty statute. The bill strengthens penalties and authorizes courts to prohibit persons convicted of animal cruelty from owning other animals in the future. The new legislation also 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 extreme weather conditions. Nearly 40 other states have shelter requirements in their anti-cruelty codes.
An amendment added to the anti-cruelty bill will also provide basic protections for dogs and consumers. This includes humane care standards for dogs in mass breeding facilities known as puppy mills and accessible information for consumers who purchase dogs from puppy mills via pet stores.
Puppy mills are mass dog breeding facilities that keep animals in cages or kennels, often in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction. These dogs are sold in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects some dog breeders under the federal Animal Welfare Act. However, most puppy mills that sell puppies directly to the public are not regulated. The inspections that do take place seldom deter cruelty and abuse, due to lax enforcement of animal welfare standards and only minor fines as penalties, and dogs continue to be treated like a cash crop.
"Thanks to Indiana's House legislators, our state's animals have hope for a better life," said Anne Sterling, The HSUS' Indiana state director. "Dogs who suffer every day in puppy mills will finally get the protection and care that they deserve. Man's best friend should be treated like a part of the family, not a cash crop."
The new amendment's care standards will cap the number of breeding dogs in a facility older than 1 year old to a maximum of 30, require a minimum of one hour of exercise from their cages each day and only allow female dogs to produce one litter per year. The 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.
Pet stores will also be required to provide consumers with detailed information about a dog's origin, and must maintain and make available each dog's veterinary records. A lemon law will provide refunds or reimbursement of vet bills for consumers who have purchased sick dogs or dogs with congenital problems.
To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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.