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Vermont Legislature Cracks Down on Irresponsible Dog Breeding

Gov. Shumlin urged to sign legislation to protect dogs and consumers

The Vermont state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to help crack down on irresponsible breeding. H.50, sponsored by Rep. John Bartholomew, D-Hartland, is now awaiting Gov. Peter Shumlin’s signature.

H. 50 will require commercial breeders of three or more litters per year to comply with the state’s animal welfare regulations to ensure basic animal care standards are being met. Breeders will also now come under the “pet lemon law” so consumers who purchase sick puppies will have additional remedies for reimbursement for reasonable veterinary expenses.

“This long overdue legislation provides both breeders and enforcement officials with very clear animal welfare standards to help prevent animal suffering,” said The Humane Society of the United States’ northeastern regional director Joanne Bourbeau. “Our goal was to protect the welfare of animals here in Vermont as well as protect Vermont consumers who purchase puppies from substandard facilities.”

The passage of H. 50 falls during The HSUS’ seventh annual Puppy Mill Action Week and comes nearly two years after The HSUS assisted Vermont state police with the seizure of more than 60 Labradors from deplorable conditions at a breeder’s home in Bakersfield, Vt. Karen Maples later accepted a plea agreement and was given a year’s suspended sentence and two years’ probation.

Bourbeau was part of a special committee commissioned by the Vermont House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products to work on the proposal after efforts on a similar bill failed last year. The Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs and the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association were also represented. The legislation was also supported by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the Vermont League of Cities & Towns, the Vermont Town Clerks Association, the Vermont Humane Federation and the Vermont Sportsmen’s Federation.

Puppy Mill Facts:

  • Puppy mills are inhumane, large-scale dog-breeding facilities in which the health of the dogs is disregarded to maintain low overhead costs and maximize profits.
  • The HSUS estimates there are at least 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States, churning out more than 2 million puppies per year for the pet trade.
  • Puppies from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and through classified ads.

Media Contact: Niki Ianni: 610-999-6932, nianni@humanesociety.org