BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Proposed legislation that would place new restrictions on commercial pet breeding in Iowa would put many breeders in the state out of business, according to critics of the measure.
The bill, which was recently approved by a Senate commerce committee, would include requirements such as increased licensing fees, more outdoor access and larger kennel sizes. There would also be stricter penalties for violations, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (http://bit.ly/1or6yRu ). The legislation would affect commercial breeders with more than four animals.
Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, said the bill could potentially hurt businesses.
"It's a big business in Iowa. We are striving that it is run well, and we don't want to put people out of business," he said. "I recently visited a few breeders, and they all had clean, well-maintained establishments."
Daniel Reece, president of the Iowa Pet Breeders Association, said the proposed rules would essentially get rid of pet breeding in the state.
"The bill will basically make it impossible for us to do business," he said.
A similar bill recently passed in Missouri, according to Rob Hurd of the American Pet Registry. He said the Iowa legislation has harsher mandates. The newspaper reported that the American Kennel Club has issued a statement against the bill.
Margie Davis, a member of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, said the bill is intended to shut down puppy mills. She added that she has nothing against responsible breeders.
"The puppy mills should be closed completely, and each bill protects them more, she said.
Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, who introduced the bill, said it's aimed at 250 facilities in Iowa licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has responsibility for inspections but is understaffed. With only two inspectors, he said the federal agency doesn't have the resources to adequately inspect the breeders.
The bill would have those facilities inspected by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, which already inspects nearly 200 state-licensed breeders. Additional fees for licenses would raise about $400,000 in new revenue to hire additional state inspectors, McCoy said.
"The bill isn't perfect and needs work and we're working on it. We believe that in the end our aim is to ensure that any commercial breeding operation gets inspected at least once a year and we ensure they're playing by the rules," he said.
McCoy said Iowa is the second-largest producer of pets in the country behind Missouri.
"We supply puppies to the nation and all over the world and we need to be cognizant of what we're doing and use good judgment to do all we can do to ensure whatever we put out among the general population those animals are not substandard," he said.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee.
Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com