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April 30, 2009

Indiana Legislators Applauded for Passing Protections for Man's Best Friend

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauds members of the Indiana Senate and House for passing new legislation (H.E.A. 1468) that provides upgraded penalties for animal abuse, and basic care standards for dogs at large-scale production facilities known as puppy mills. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.

The House had overwhelmingly approved Rep. Lawson's more comprehensive version of the bill, but Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, fought to weaken the measure in the Senate on behalf of puppy mill interests. A conference committee reached a compromise last night on the House and Senate versions of the bill, which passed both chambers just before the legislative session adjourned and now goes to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature. 

"This has been one of the most frustrating, but rewarding bills that I have ever worked on," said Rep. Linda Lawson. "Puppies and dogs are better off today because we decided to make Indiana a better place for them to live. It is not as much as we wanted, but we have a frame work to start the mission of protection and safety."

Puppy mills are factory-style dog production facilities that keep dogs confined, often in squalid conditions without exercise, socialization or meaningful human interaction. Puppies from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dogs' health, genetic history or future welfare. Meanwhile, the parent dogs are often forced to live their entire lives in small cages, only to be destroyed or discarded when they can no longer churn out puppies.

The new legislation requires that dogs in puppy mills be let out of their cages at least once per day for exercise, increases the minimum cage size and bans painful wire cage flooring. These protections will curb some of the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills and do not affect responsible home breeders who already raise dogs humanely.

The bill also upgrades the Indiana animal cruelty code by strengthening penalties for animal cruelty and authorizing courts to prohibit convicted animal abusers from owning other animals in the future. And it makes it an offense to neglect animals by failing to provide them with shelter or medical treatment. Upon enactment, Indiana will join nearly 40 other states with shelter requirements in their anti-cruelty codes.

"We commend Indiana lawmakers for getting this important anti-cruelty bill over the finish line, and we especially thank Rep. Lawson for her tireless work to protect man's best friend from harm," said Anne Sterling, The HSUS' Indiana state director. "The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and these reforms represent a measurable step forward for Hoosiers and our animals."

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 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.

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