April 8, 2009
Indiana Legislators Pass Bills to Crack Down on Animal Cruelty and Puppy Mills
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Indiana House of Representatives and the Senate for passing an anti-animal cruelty bill (S.B. 238) and a puppy mill bill (H.B. 1468). The bills provide stronger penalties for animal abuse and provide modest care standards for dogs at mass dog producing facilities known as puppy mills.
"S.B. 238 would close gaping loopholes in our animal cruelty law, and H.B. 1468, although weakened in the Senate, would still be a measurable step forward for man's best friend here in Indiana," said Anne K. Sterling, The HSUS' Indiana state director. "Dogs must be protected as family pets, not treated like a cash crop. I thank our legislature for taking animal cruelty and the wishes of Indiana voters seriously and hope both H.B. 1468 and S.B. 238 are enacted."
S.B. 238 is a desperately needed piece of legislation that upgrades the Indiana animal cruelty code by strengthening penalties and authorizing 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.
The House had previously approved a version of H.B. 1468, which set standards for the care and treatment of dogs kept at mass producing facilities known as puppy mills. While the bill still offers some modest protections for these dogs, most of the care standards were stripped by Senate Corrections, Criminal & Civil Matters Chairman Brent Steele, R-44, who favored a bill limited to only providing registration requirements for breeders. However, thanks to an amendment offered on the floor of the Senate by Sen. Teresa S. Lubbers, R-30, daily exercise for dogs outside of their cages, a ban on wire cage flooring and slightly larger cage size requirements were included in the version that passed the Senate.
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. The puppies these dogs churn out are sold in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers with no regard for the dog's health or genetic conditions.
The respective chambers in which these bills originated will now have the chance to accept or reject any changes made in the opposite chamber. If those changes are rejected, the bills will be placed in Conference Committees to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.
The HSUS is hopeful that the care standards that were included in the House version of H.B. 1468 will be approved by the Conference Committee, to provide stronger protections for dogs at abusive puppy mills. Those standards included restricting the number of times a female dog may be bred to once per year, requiring that facilities be consistently cleaned and constructed to protect dogs from disease and injury and have sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation and limiting puppy mills to a maximum of 30 breeding animals over the age of one year.
None of the puppy mill care standards would affect responsible hobby breeders.
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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 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.