Activists who fought hard for additional regulations for dog breeders last year are complaining about legislation that would ban activists from shooting undercover video or pictures at Iowa farms. Iowa Voters for Companion Animals say they’re worried the video and photography ban will also apply to so-called puppy mills.
The group’s founder Mary LaHay, says they have had to use undercover tactics to expose problems among dog breeders. “We have some of the pictures that have been obtained in an undercover fashion of dogs from Iowa dog breeding facilities showing some of the horrendous conditions that they’ve been exposed to,” Lahay says. She says the ban would hurt their efforts to keep breeders honest.
She says, “If we take away this option of having any pictures, we have no option of ever pursuing these in a more stringent fashion.” LaHay says graphic pictures are what convinced legislators to crack down on puppy mills in the first place. “Inspection reports are very abstract and really when we introduced the photographs most of which had been acquired in undercover situations, those gave those violations a face, and really made it something the legislators and the public could relate to,” LaHay explained.
The bill attempts to exempt animal shelters, pet shops, and kennels. But LaHay says attorneys who’ve read the legislation say it could easily be misinterpreted. The legislation targeting animal rights activists was approved by the House last week, but Democratic leaders say it will not pass the Senate in its current form.