So-called "puppy mills" would face tougher state regulation under a bill which got its first airing at the statehouse Monday. Currently federal inspectors check up on dog breeders who produce puppies for resale at pet stores or other in other retail settings, but the proposed legislation would let the state step in when there are complaints of animal abuse or neglect.
Joe Gerst, a dog breeder from Amana who raises Yorkshire terriers, says federal inspectors, as well as local law enforcement, provide enough oversight already. "Typically the way it happens right now is (when) someone complains, they typically complain to the local sheriff," Gerst says. "They the ability to go in under animal neglect and animal abuse and they can deal with the situation directly."
Mary LaHay of Des Moines, an animal welfare activist, says she recently reviewed 900 federal inspection reports on Iowa breeders and found 48 percent of the time violations of the Animal Welfare Act were reported. "There are a couple of instances of kennels that have been closed, but it took five years in one case," LaHay says.
Key legislators say they’re concerned about the well-being of legitimate Iowa dog breeders as well as the welfare of animals and it’s unlikely the bill will advance quickly, if at all. A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture says the agency doesn’t have the money to start sending inspectors to federally-licensed dog kennels.