A legislative committee is hearing testimony today on plans to increase the regulation of so-called puppy mills in the state. Advocates for the increased regulation spoke first. They include Mary Lahay, the founder of the group “Iowa Voters for Companion Animals”
“We need and deserve state oversight of the U.S.D.A. commercial licensed dog-breeding facilities in our state. We have over 400 of them,” Lahay says. She says there’s virtually no state oversight of the facilities and the federal inspections show 59% of them have violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Lahay says Iowa ranks third in the nation for the number of puppy mills.
Lahay says there’s over 23,000 adult dogs in the facilities that are kept in small cages their entire lives and bred over and over again. She says the conditions lead to multiple medical conditions such as cancers and tumors. Lahay says the figures from 2007 show the breeders made over 16-million dollars from selling the animals raised in the mills. She says a lack of regulation ends up costing the state and pet owners.
She says there are a lot of costs from people who purchase puppies and incur thousands of dollars of vet bills for the puppies that are ill. Lahay says there’s also the cost of running shelters and rescue operations. Lahay says she’s not against puppy breeding operations — she just want to see them regulated and run better. She says the state could increase the regulation of the operations and it would not cost the state any more money.
Lahay says breeders pay $20 a year for an Iowa license, and she says there are three to five breeders who make over one million dollars a year, and multiple that make $50,000 a year. Lahay says the state needs to raise the license fee to increase the oversight of breeders. The breeders are also scheduled to testify today before the committee. (See breeders reaction here)