|Animal Advocates and Lawmakers Unite Against Puppy Mills With Puppy Protection Act
Bipartisan bills would regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders in Michigan, ensure a minimum standard of care
LANSING – Leaders in the animal welfare industry and a bipartisan group of lawmakers called on the Michigan Legislature today to pass the Puppy Protection Act, which would crack down on large-scale commercial dog breeders in Michigan and ensure that dogs in their facilities are treated humanely.
“It is vital that Michigan act to protect untold numbers of dogs from suffering in our state and prevent our state from becoming a hot spot for puppies produced for pet stores and for sale on the Internet,” said Cal Morgan, President and CEO of the Michigan Humane Society (MHS). “While Michigan Humane Society encourages people to consider adopting one of the many wonderful animals awaiting homes at area animal shelters and rescue groups, we also believe people who purchase pets should be able to do so with confidence that these animals were raised humanely and safely.”
House Bills 5230 and 5231 (and Senate Bills 891 and 892) would establish strict guidelines for such critical issues as housing, sanitary conditions, enclosure space, exercise, and veterinary care of dogs used for breeding, many of whom live out their entire lives in these breeding facilities. The Puppy Protection Act also places an upper limit on the number of dogs that may be housed in such facilities. Importantly, the legislation exempts small-scale or “hobby” breeders from regulation.
This legislation, launched as a statewide collaboration by MHS, is sponsored by state lawmakers Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) and Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge). It is also supported by the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, Puppy Mill Awareness, a Michigan-based advocacy group, and the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.
“Michigan must not become a haven for puppy mills,” said Terry MacKillop, President of the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers. “The Puppy Protection Act will give law enforcement the tools they need to investigate potential cases of animal abuse and neglect at large-scale kennels and breeders, and keep the bad actors out of our communities.”
The need for the legislation springs from breeders who house large numbers of dogs in close confinement for years, often without human interaction, exercise or adequate veterinary care. These animals are often forced to produce litter after litter of puppies until old age, when they may be sold, given up or killed. Their puppies are typically sold to pet stores or via the Internet. It is estimated that 99 percent of pet stores that sell puppies buy them from large-scale breeders.
MHS has worked for more than two years with concerned individuals and groups, purebred dog clubs and registries, animal control agencies, veterinarians and government officials, along with hundreds of individual dog breeders and fanciers, to gain their input and help in creating strong legislation that will protect dogs and responsible breeders while curtailing the unacceptable practices at large-scale breeding establishments.
“We must act now to prevent these puppy mills from bringing their business in other states to Michigan, and protect animals in the facilities already operating here,” said Morgan. “No animal deserves to live a life in a cage they can barely turn around in, with just enough food and water to stay alive. The Puppy Protection Act will protect our four-legged friends from a life of abuse and neglect.”
Seven states have passed puppy mill laws within the past two years, including Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.