Legislators from the Iowa House and Senate say they’ve developed a compromise plan that will crack-down on so-called “puppy mills.” Animal welfare activists have been pushing for greater state oversight of dog breeding facilities, citing instances of dirty and unsafe conditions.
Under the plan under consideration at the statehouse, licensed breeders would pay higher fees to cover the costs of new inspections. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says federal officials admit they aren’t providing adequate oversight.
“I believe that U.S.D.A.’s basic comment back to us is they had about 150 inspectors to inspect all the facilities nationwide,” McCoy says, “and there just was not enough inspectors to get the job done.” The Iowa Senate passed a bill last year which would have mandated state inspections for all federally-licensed dog breeders. But this year’s compromise bill requires state inspections only when a complaint is filed.
“This is an industry that has been, you know, a lucrative industry,” McCoy says. “These are animals that sell anywhere from $300, $400 anywhere up to $1200.” Critics of the proposed legislation say it’s unlicensed breeders causing the vast majority of the complaints about “puppy mills” and the bill does nothing to address those rogue operations.
The bill under consideration calls for beefed up enforcement of uncollected sales taxes on the sale of dogs and cats. And veterinarians would become mandatory reports of animal abuse and neglect. A bipartisan panel of legislators met this summer and fall and endorsed the idea of increasing licensing fees for dog breeders from $20 to 100 bucks.
According to the U.S.D.A., there are 300 commercial dog breeders in Iowa and three U.S.D.A. inspectors are responsible for policing those operations.