The welfare of over 15,000 Iowa dogs rests in the hands of our lawmakers!
Two identical bills, SF502 and HSB560, passed through committees in both the House and Senate last week. The bills will now go to the full Senate and House for consideration.
Iowa has the 2nd largest number of commercial dog breeding facilities in the nation with 220 licensed kennels housing 15,000 adult breeding dogs, yet, of the states with the largest number of licensed kennels, Iowa is the ONLY state without state level oversight.”. The goal of the bill, which has been dubbed the Dog Breeder bill, is to create state-level oversight of USDA licensed dog breeding facilities. Currently, USDA inspectors are not required to report violations of 717B — our state animal cruelty statue! And, based on USDA inspection reports there’s sufficient evidence to indicate animal welfare violations are occurring every year in Iowa licensed kennels. In 2015 alone, there were over 100 licensees with citations for animal welfare violations! These violations have been going unreported to the authorities for years!
Iowa has a variety of kennel sizes from small hobby breeders with several adult breeding dogs to large breeders with several hundred adult breeding dogs. There’s even one Iowa kennel with over 1200 adult breeding dogs. Currently, they all pay the same annual licensing fee of $175 regardless of size. The bill proposes a tiered fee schedule based on numbers of dogs housed. Most breeders will fall into the lowest tier and will only have an increase of $75 annually. That’s an annual fee of $250 — about the price of one puppy! Small hobby breeders will likely see a $100 decrease.
Many pet stores across the U.S. acquire the majority of the puppies they sell from USDA licensed breeders such as those here in Iowa, or from a puppy broker who buys the dogs from the breeder. One conservative estimate shows that Iowa breeders produce and export at least 100,000 puppies annually! Because of poor breeding practices and unsanitary living conditions, sick puppies and puppies with genetic conditions are being sold at pet stores across the country. This is a problem that absolutely does NOT reflect well on the great state of Iowa.
As common-sensical as this legislation is, there are still naysayers! The AKC has been one of the loudest opponents. Recently, the owner of Iowa City Petland, Ron Solsrud, expressed that breeders just need to be “educated on the current standards”. The fact is that the standards have already been set by our 717B statue. Every animal owner is required to abide by 717B. Some breeders are abiding by these standards. They will have nothing to worry about with the new legislation. Some breeders are not abiding by the standards. This new legislation will allow for enforcement of 717B in licensed kennels. Why wouldn’t we ALL want that for our companion animals?
Please contact your state representative and senator and ask them to support the Dog Breeder Legislation. The dogs CANNOT wait.
• Lynn Snyder, of West Branch, is a working mother and wife, a proud Gulf War Veteran and native Iowan. Comments: Lynnsnyder@Lcom.net