The Iowa House has passed a bill which would allow for state inspections of some commercial dog kennels that draw public complaints. Breeders who are raising four or more dogs would have to pay a new licensing fee and register with the state. Representative Dave Lykam, a Democrat from Davenport, says the bill will help ensure “companion animals” bred and raised in Iowa are treated humanely.

“This legislation is designed to better protect pets and pet owners from irresponsible breeders. I have received numerous emails from concerned citizens across this state who have felt victimized by bad actors in this industry,” Lykam says. “…Saving one animal will not change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.”

Representative Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull, says the bill may prompt some kennels to close. “I really have some problems with more regulation and doubling up the inspections,” Alons says. Representative Betty De Boef, a Republican from What Cheer, says the bill sets a “bad precedent” for the state.

“It sends an emotion message to those who are caught up in the emotional aspect of abuse of animals and I am an animal lover. I’m a dog lover. I’ve lived my whole life with cats and the last thing I’d do is want to have one abused,” De Boef says. “But this bill does not address the problem because it does not get to the bad players, the ones who are not certified, who are not licensed.” De Boef and others suggested the bill could open the door to more regulation of livestock operations in Iowa.

Representative Mark Kuhn, a Democrat from Charles City, says there’s nothing in the bill that would apply to cows, pigs, horses, sheep, goats, chickens or any other farm animals. “Let’s just talk about what’s in the bill and in the first two lines of the title it says, ‘An act providing for the treatment of animals other than agricultural animals,'” Kuhn says. “(It’s) the first thing the bill says.” Kuhn says the bill applies only to businesses that raise “companion animals.”

Representative Dolores Mertz, a Democrat from Ottosen, agrees. “I feel comfortable in voting for this bill today because I believe it does not affect livestock,” Mertz says. “And if I find out that this bill does after we pass it, I’ll tell you all ‘H’ is going to open up in this whole state of Iowa if I have anything to say about it.” The bill passed the House on a 77 to 22 vote. It now goes to the senate for consideration.