April 20, 2012
Animal Advocates Lobby Michigan Lawmakers on Animal Protection Legislation
During the 2012 Michigan Humane Lobby Day, more than 75 citizens from across Michigan met with lawmakers at the Capitol and urged them to pass legislation to ban the euthanasia of shelter animals by gas chamber, increase protections for dogs at large scale breeding operations, and to increase protections for consumers who purchase sick animals from pet stores and puppy mills. The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan sponsored Michigan Humane Lobby Day.
“It’s tremendously encouraging to see so many Michiganders willing to raise their voices to speak on behalf of animals,” said Jill Fritz, Michigan state director for The HSUS. “We hope our state’s lawmakers have listened to citizens’ demands to take action to prevent puppy mills from establishing themselves in Michigan and to ensure the humane treatment of shelter pets.”
The need for the regulation of dog breeding facilities in Michigan is acute. In early April, Wishbone Pet Rescue assisted authorities in removing more than 350 dogs from an Allegan County puppy mill that had spiraled out of control. The dogs were in pitiful shape – soaked in their own urine, infested with fleas, many with medical/dental conditions. Legislation currently pending in the Michigan state legislature could have prevented this tragedy. The Puppy Protection Act would establish strict guidelines for housing, sanitary conditions, enclosure space, exercise, and veterinary care of dogs used for breeding in Michigan, and would limit the number of dogs that can be housed in mass breeding facilities. The Puppy Protection Act was launched by the Michigan Humane Society and is supported by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Affairs, the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, and by national, state and local humane organizations.
“The ASPCA has seen first-hand the unspeakable cruelty and horrific conditions of puppy mills,” said Vicki Deisner, ASPCA state legislative director, Midwest region. “It’s important for Michigan lawmakers to hear from their constituents and enact stronger laws to protect animals against inherent cruelty of puppy mills. We hope our supporters will use the information they obtain today throughout the year and continue to impress upon legislators their commitment to enacting stronger laws to protect animals from cruelty.”
Also during Humane Lobby Day, Michigan Sens. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, each received the Humane Legislator of the Year award from The HSUS in recognition of their leadership in introducing SB 356, 357, and 358 to increase penalties for animal fighting and to make it a trigger offense for a charge of racketeering. That package of bills is awaiting its final vote on the House floor before moving to the governor’s desk for a signature.
Advocates lobbied in favor of the following bills:
• SB 423, 424, “Grant’s Bills,” to end gas chamber euthanasia (named for Grant, a dog who was killed in the St. Joseph County gas chamber in 2008); sponsored by Senators Steve Bieda and Rick Jones.
• HB 5230, 5231, SB 891, 892, “The Puppy Protection Act” to create licensing and regulations for “large-scale commercial breeding kennels,” defined as kennels where more than 15 female intact dogs are housed for the purpose of breeding; sponsored by Representatives Vicki Barnett and Wayne Schmidt and Senators Steve Bieda and Rick Jones.
• SB 574, The “Pet Lemon Law” to provide protections for consumers who purchase sick animals from breeders or pet stores; sponsored by Senator Steve Bieda.