April 9, 2009
Wash. State House Votes to Protect Man's Best Friend
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Washington State House of Representatives for passing new legislation that strengthens protections for dogs at mass production facilities known as puppy mills. The legislation (S.B. 5651), led by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-36, and Reps. Jamie Pedersen, D-43, and Tom Campbell, R-2, passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 74-23, and is supported by The Humane Society of the United States. The bill goes back to the Senate for concurrence, where it originally passed by a vote of 35-11, and then on to the governor.
Puppy mills are mass dog producing facilities that keep animals in cages or kennels, often in squalid conditions with little or no exercise, socialization or human interaction. The puppies churned out at these facilities are sold to pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health or genetic history.
"Thanks to Washington state lawmakers, our animals have hope for a better life," said Dan Paul, The HSUS' Washington state director. "Dogs who suffer every day in puppy mills now have a chance to 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 bill prohibits a commercial puppy producer from possessing more than 50 unaltered dogs more than 6 months old at any time. It also establishes basic care standards for producers with more than 10 unaltered dogs older than 6 months that are kept in enclosures for the majority of the day. The basic care standards include providing clean food and water, allowing dogs to leave their cages for at least an hour daily, providing adequate veterinary care and having clean, safe housing. The legislation exempts retail pet stores and some other entities. The legislation cracks down on the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills, and will not affect responsible breeders who already raise dogs humanely.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects some wholesale 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, so dogs at many facilities continue to live their lives confined to factory farm conditions with little or no hope of ever being part of a family.
Washington currently has no statewide laws to regulate puppy mills. Legislation capping the number of breeding dogs at puppy mills would help prevent irresponsible and inhumane mass production and curb pet overpopulation which is a financial burden on local governments and taxpayers who shoulder the cost of animal control and sheltering.
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.