The Humane Society of the United States joins Hoosier animal shelters, rescues and local governments in strongly opposing HB 1412. This cruel bill would force cities and counties across Indiana to allow pet stores to sell puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers, voiding ordinances in 21 Indiana localities that restrict the sale of puppies in pet stores. If this measure passes, it will force communities such as Indianapolis, already struggling with pet overpopulation and other challenges facing animal shelters, to allow the sale of cruelly bred puppies in their overburdened community.
Despite intense opposition from local animal services agencies and the constituents of the 21 communities that have enacted ordinances to limit the sale of puppy mill puppies in their communities, HB 1412 is being rushed through the Indiana General Assembly by the puppy selling pet store Petland and the puppy mill industry. It passed the House of Representatives last week and is set to be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee in the coming days.
“It is shocking to see some Indiana legislators prioritizing the business interests of Petland—a corporation known for duping customers into buying sick puppy mill puppies—over the wellbeing of Hoosier pets and families,” said Samantha Chapman, Indiana state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “This bill would be a disaster for animals, the communities that would be forced to let pet stores sell puppy mill puppies and our animal shelters that are at crisis capacity levels. We urge the Senate to stand with the Hoosier animal welfare community and local governments to swiftly defeat this cruel, deceptive bill.”
It appears that Petland, other puppy-selling pet stores and commercial breeders have worked with legislators to craft a weak regulation that has no reliable enforcement mechanism.
Concerns about the bill include:
It would allow puppy stores to continue sourcing from particularly problematic puppy mills, including those listed here, as it would continue to allow stores to sell dogs any breeder who is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and does not have a recent “direct violation” of the Animal Welfare Act. It is important to note that USDA inspectors rarely cite even egregious violations found during inspections as “direct,” despite USDA and state inspectors documenting issues at those facilities such as failing to meet cage size requirements, housing dogs on painful wire flooring, feces accumulation, open wounds, poor body condition, lack of dental care and other serious issues.
It would not incentivize pet stores to start sourcing puppies from Canine Care Certified breeders, since they could still purchase dogs from massive puppy mills and brokers who can more easily fill their cages.
It would force cities and counties to allow pet stores to sell dogs from hundreds of puppy mills across the nation, since few have the “direct” violations that would disqualify a breeder. See here for details on the limits of USDA oversight, “direct violations” and a photo library of cruel conditions and violations that are deemed acceptable under the provisions of HB 1412.
It would impose an unfunded mandate on the Indiana Board of Animal Health by requiring the agency to oversee shelters, rescues, hobby breeders and pet stores for the first time without providing any additional funding. State employees would have to become experts on pet store sourcing and out-of-state puppy mill conditions to even attempt to enforce the complicated provisions of this 23-page bill.
It would require already stretched-thin local law enforcement agencies to assist with enforcement without any resources or training to take on that responsibility.