Updates on Puppy Mill Legislation

1. COLORADO.  On January 21, The puppy mill bill was officially introduced into the Colorado state legislature.  The bill limits the number of adult, unaltered dogs a breeder can maintain, mandates annual veterinary exams, and prohibits individuals convicted of animal cruelty of obtaining a breeder license. 
2. ILLINOIS.  On January 19, announcement of a Puppy Mill bill, sponsored by Fritchey and state Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Mt. Prospect), was introduced into the Illinois state legislature. The Bill, called Chloe's Bill, was named after a young female dog that was rescued from a filthy, unlicensed puppy mill in Downstate Macon County.  The legislation, if passed in its proposed form, would:
  • Create a Dog Breeder License Act, which would prevent breeders from having more than 20 unaltered (not neutered or not spayed) dogs.
  • Prohibit people from obtaining a dog-breeding license if they have been convicted of a felony animal-cruelty crime, including dog fighting.
  • Require dog breeders to keep dogs in buildings without wire flooring and with sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation.
  • Require pet stores and breeders to provide potential pet buyers with the dog's full medical history, information of spaying and neutering and information about any prior medical care.
  • Establish penalties starting with fines and escalating to having animals seized and breeding operations shut down.
3. INDIANA.  The puppy mill bill amendment passed the House committee vote yesterday and will be voted on in the full House next week.  For more details on this bill: 
The Summary of the Puppy Mill Amendment includes:

A.) Anyone who during a 12 month period maintains at least 10 adult female dogs that have not been spayed and are over four months of age (exempts shelters, rescues and animal control organizations).

B.) Standards of care (ventilation, sanitary conditions, illumination, temperature, exercise and cage size requirements; no wire flooring).

C.) Vet Care - Every animal must receive a physical exam from a licensed veterinarian every year and the breeder must maintain veterinary records on each animal.  Surgical procedures or euthanasia of
any animal may not be performed by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian.

D.) Pet Store Disclosure - Requires any pet store to post name, city and state of each pup's breeder as well as name, city and state of any broker.  Pet stores must maintain veterinary records on each animal and make them available to purchasers or prospective purchasers.

E.) Lemon Language - Requires breeder to provide another dog or full refund if dog is found to be sick within 21 days of purchase.  Or, if dog is found to have congenital problems within a year, the breeder must also reimburse the buyer for vet bills (not to exceed the purchase price of the dog).

F.) Cap Language - Maximum of 20 dogs that are (older than) one year and have not been altered at any address or location.

G.) Breeding limitation - dogs cannot be bred without annual certificate from vet, must be at least 18 months of age and less than eight years of age.  Female dogs shall only be allowed to whelp one litter per year.

H.) Animal Cruelty Convictions - Individuals convicted of animal cruelty under Indiana code may not operate a commercial breeding facility. Additionally, commercial breeders may not hire staff who have been convicted of animal cruelty.

I.) Registration with the State Board of Animal Health - yearly registration of anyone who fits the above definition of a puppy mill.  $50 yearly registration fee.  Class C infraction for not registering as a commercial breeder.
4. OHIO.  The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) is preparing for a face-to-face meeting with HSUS President Wayne Pacelle, a meeting initiated by HSUS.  Ohio's constitution does allow for ballot initiatives and as many of you are aware, Ohio voters and taxpayers aren't bashful about putting initiatives on the ballot.  Since the passage of Proposition 2 in California, there has been a lot of speculation as to what state might be next, Ohio has been one of the states mentioned.  
For more information, view the article, "Ohio Farm Bureau to meet with HSUS" http://www.brownfieldnetwork.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=5CFF61D1-5056-B82A-D06E8C420A3FAD83
5. OKLAHOMA. The Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection Act, H.B. 1332, passed the House committee vote (11-2) yesterday and will be voted on in the full House in the very near future. 

This proposed legislation would set regulations for dog and cat breeders, and authorize a state agency to inspect kennels and facilities that sell more than 25 animals a year.  The Pet Quality Assurance Enforcement Fund will be funded from fees, fines, etc. and will provide the necessary means to support enforcement. 

For more details concerning this legislation, read "OK House to Vote on Puppy Mill Bill" http://newsok.com/house-to-vote-on-puppy-mill-bill/article/3344976

6. PENNSYLVANIA.  With a vote of 192 for and 0 against, House Bill 39, amending Pennsylvania's Crimes Code for animal cruelty and introduced by Representative Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks), passed in this week's session.  The proposed legislation will impose criminal penalties for specific medical procedures if not performed by a licensed veterinarian including debarking, c-section births and tail docking.  The act of ear cropping by anyone other than a vet is already prohibited in Pennsylvania.

The legislation now heads for the Senate.
7. TENNESSEE.  State lawmakers are trying diligently to curb bad breeding operations by regulating breeders and creating an inspection process.   State Sen. Doug Jackson is proposing legislation that he hopes will put an end to what many call puppy mills.   The bill would require any breeder with more than 20 animals to pay a $500 licensing fee to the state.  If you have more than 40, it goes up to $1,000.  Commercial breeders would also be inspected yearly.

For more information, read "Senator Hopes Legislation Ends Puppy Mills"  http://www.wsmv.com/video/18661052/index.html

 8. WASHINGTON.   In the wake of the recent seizures of hundreds of sick or neglected dogs from alleged puppy mill operations in Skagit and Snohomish counties, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would regulate breeders who own a large number of dogs. A Senate committee on Monday discussed the bill, which would provide "humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices" by limiting breeders to keeping a maximum of 25 dogs at any one location and also by setting strict guidelines for the housing and care of the animals.

For more details concerning this legislation, read "Lawmakers Consider Bill Targeting Puppy Mills  http://www.komonews.com/news/39342082.html

To read more about puppy mill legislation, check out http://www.columbustopdogs.com/

DA Stedman refuses to prosecute PA dog breeders who sent sick and injured dogs to auction in Ohio.

Two years after Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman failed to prosecute the puppy mill operators featured on Oprah, DA Stedman refuses to prosecute PA dog breeders who sent sick and injured dogs to auction in Ohio.

On October 7, of 2009, volunteers from Main Line Animal Rescue, along with agents from the PSPCA and a veterinarian, traveled to Holmes County, Ohio and purchased twelve dogs at the Farmerstown Sale Barn in Baltic - one of Ohio's more notorious Amish dog auctions. Three hundred and eighty-four breeding dogs from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, were sent to Ohio and placed on the block. MLAR and the PSPCA picked out twelve dogs showing clear signs of abuse, purchased them, then transported them back to the Pennsylvania where they were examined, photographed, and treated by numerous veterinarians and specialists. Six commercial dog breeders from Lancaster County were later charged with animal cruelty. Justice looked as though it would prevail until Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, in a move that stunned animal welfare organizations and dog lovers throughout the Commonwealth, unexpectedly had all the charges dismissed. 

What the residents of Lancaster County need to know about their District Attorney's handling of the case - keeping in mind, Craig Stedman has failed to successfully prosecute one puppy mill operator in the two years he's been your district attorney.* 

1) Lancaster County DA Craig Stedman claimed he knew nothing of the investigation until he read about the case in the Philadelphia Inquirer on November 21, 2009. The truth is Craig Stedman was contacted by then PSPCA President Harrise Yaron six weeks earlier, days before the Ohio auction, to discuss the legality of what the PSPCA agents planned to do. He gave Mrs. Yaron the "thumbs up" to move forward. He knew what the PSPCA was doing every step of the investigation. 

2) Two days after the dogs were brought back from Ohio, Harrise Yaron, PSPCA Board member Jodi Goldberg, and PSPCA agents met with Craig Stedman and ADA Daniel Dye to discuss the cases. Stedman himself suggests the PSPCA file summary charges as opposed to misdemeanor charges, and says directly to Harrise Yaron: "Go ahead, but you'll have to use your own lawyer." Stedman claims he did not give permission for the PSPCA to prosecute the cases using their own attorney. This is perhaps the biggest lie Stedman has told so far - and he has told it repeatedly, in an attempt to protect some of the worst puppy mill operators in Lancaster County. 

3) Attorney Jeff Conrad representing the breeders in the case, calls these men and women the "cream of the crop." Kennel inspection (reports available online) tell a different story. Several of the breeders charged in the Ohio case have been warned by state inspectors for housing dogs exhibiting signs of poor health.

• Nathan Myer's April 2009 inspection report notes seven female dogs displaying signs of paw or leg injuries, as well as a Llasa with an eye injury and another dog who is unresponsive and lethargic. It is only after Myer is ordered by the state that he provides these dogs with veterinary care.

• John S. Fisher surrendered four dogs with questionable health to the Lancaster Humane League in 2007. In April of last year, Fisher was ordered by the state to have a Boston Terrier in his kennel seen by a vet.  According to the report, the dog had been involved in a fight with another dog and was limping with lacerations on her front leg.  The dog had been injured days before, but was treated only after Fisher was required to do so by the state.

• James Zimmerman's July inspection mentions a black Cocker Spaniel appearing to have an untreated cherry eye in its left eye. Oddly enough, one of the dogs purchased by the PSPCA at the Ohio auction three months later was a black Cocker Spaniel with an untreated cherry eye in its left eye from Zimmerman's kennels. If this is the same dog, then did state inspector Travis Hess fail to follow-up with Zimmerman after ordering him to have the dog seen by a vet within seventy-two hours back in July? Did the dog continue to suffer for another three months until finally being sent to auction in Ohio? Was the vet who signed off on the dog in July, the same vet who signed the dog's health certificate for the auction in Ohio?

Why was DA Craig Stedman so quick to drop the charges against breeders with well documented histories of mistreating or neglecting their dogs? If some of these people mistreated their dogs in the past, wouldn't this information strengthen the cases against several of the breeders charged? 

4) Craig Stedman claims there wasn't enough evidence to support the charges, and yet in an email to PSPCA President Harrise Yaron he writes that he offered to provide PSPCA agents with warrants based on the evidence provided by the PSPCA and Main Line Animal Rescue. If the evidence was sufficient for a warrant to enter private properties and the breeders' kennels, then why wasn't it strong enough to prosecute them for animal cruelty? This hardly makes sense, Mr. Stedman. 

5) The PSPCA asked former Chester County prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice William H. Lamb to prosecute the six breeders. When Craig Stedman found out that a former Supreme Court Justice was prosecuting the cases, MLAR believes that Stedman must have realized that he would not be able to control the outcome of the cases, and that the breeders would not be protected as they were in the past. Stedman sent letters to all the District Magistrates informing them that he had not given the PSPCA permission to prosecute the cases - which was not true, of course. 

6) DA Craig Stedman dismissed the charges against the breeders without ever interviewing or speaking to any of our witnesses, the veterinary specialists who treated the dogs, or the MLAR volunteers who purchased dogs at the auction. Numerous phone calls were not returned; messages were left unanswered. One of the vets who treated the dogs and offered to testify is a leading canine dental specialist from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Paul Orsini described one poor dog's teeth as being broken off - multiple fractures with an infection spreading to the dog's facial bones. Another dog's teeth were so rotted, they were hollow. Food and water accumulating in its nasal cavity. 

7) Both DA Stedman and the attorney for the breeders, "Jeff" Conrad (who are friends and worked together when Conrad worked for the same District Attorney's office), claim that there was little proof linking the dogs purchased at the auction with the breeders charged in the cases. Not true. Each of the twelve dogs brought back from Ohio had a tag around his or her neck. The number identified their Lancaster County breeder in the auction catalogue. MLAR and the PSPCA were also provided with the dogs' registration paperwork and/or interstate transport documentation identifying their respective breeders in Lancaster County. 

8) Any concerns about the chain of evidence are also unfounded. Because MLAR used a private plane, several of the dogs arrived at the PSPCA in Philadelphia two hours after leaving the auction in Baltic, Ohio. The other dogs were driven back to the PSPCA - their agents driving straight through the night.