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April 20, 2009

Wash. State Lawmakers Vote to Protect Man's Best Friend

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States urges Gov. Christine Gregoire to sign a bill 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, passed its final vote in the Senate today by a bipartisan vote of 43-4.

"As we have seen in Washington state, abusive puppy mills produce dogs with no concern for their welfare," said Daniel Paul, HSUS Washington state director. "Washington state lawmakers have taken a measurable step forward for man's best friend, and we urge Governor Gregoire to sign this important animal welfare and consumer protection legislation."

The 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.

"This is a consumer protection issue for individuals and families who obtain puppies from commercial breeders. Puppies from puppy mills are likely to have serious health problems which can translate to a health risk for individuals and families who purchase them. But I also introduced the bill for protection of the animals who really should have clean facilities, be able to move around, be able to get fresh air, and not be kept in horrible conditions and expected to just simply breed," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles.

Washington state currently has no statewide law to regulate puppy mills. 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.

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.

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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