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A new bill has been introduced in Connecticut that aims to ban all sales of animals from puppy mills, specifically dogs, rabbits, and cats.
The animal welfare bill successfully passed through the Environment Committee, receiving an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support with a 26-2 vote, and has already made it to The House of Representatives where it will be voted on again.
A “puppy mill” is a dog breeding facility that keeps their animals locked up in “inhumane” conditions. Such conditions include lack of healthy food and clean water, cramming many puppies into one small cage or keeping them confined in too small a space, neglect, filthy living environments, and more. Over the years such practices have extended beyond dogs to include other animals like cats and rabbits.
The bill is not surprising as 25 different states, half the country, has already passed legislation to put an end to retail sales of animals in pet stores altogether! Just last year in 2018, California was the first of these states to restrict the sale of cats, rabbits, and dogs to only those that were previously acquired through an animal rescue center or shelter.
While animal rights organizations are all for the ban on retailing pets, business owners in the pet store industry worry over losing important business when, they say, they never source their animals from puppy mills in the first place.
The bill has faced opposition on another front as well; voters worry that if people can’t purchase pets in a retail setting, they will ultimately end up buying from a seedy animal vendor that they sought out online, most of which aren’t licensed to sell pets, and therefore aren’t regulated in their treatments of said pets, either.
Due to such concerns, an amendment was made to the bill that requires the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to review the law restricting pet sourcing to shelters and rescues that was implemented in California. The amendment requires the DOA to give a full report of the review findings by the first of next year.
Connecticut state Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, D-Bethel was among those who spoke out in favor of the proposed legislation, stating that it’s an effective way to stop the flow of cash into inhumane puppy mills.
“The goal of this bill is not to shut down businesses; it is to protect consumers and to cut off the puppy mill supply chain,” he told the CT Insider.
Connecticut Votes for Animals‘ executive director, Jo-Anne Basile, was also in favor of the bill. She notes that of the 112 pet stores in the state, the majority (100) of the pet stores operate by working with shelters and rescues and selling pet care supplies, while the other 12 get their animals from alternative, sources.
“Connecticut’s 12 pet stores need to change their business model to reflect the values of the state. Although Connecticut has a history in addressing puppy mills, the United States Department of Agriculture only minimally enforces standards of care as specified in the Animal Welfare Act,” said Basile testified before the Environment Committee.
Pet supply store, Barkery Boo’tique’s owner, Debbie Bauman, believes that the legislation is long overdue.
“Pets should never be treated as product and it is impossible to know for certain whether an animal was bred in inhumane conditions,” she said.
The ASPCA‘s Senior State Legislative Director, Debora M. Bresch, says that the bill alone, which calls for more studies, is not enough to put a stop to puppy mills and that they need legislation to act now, not later.
“The bill that came out of the Environment Committee calls for further study of a problem that requires no further study. It is no mystery that Connecticut pet stores source their puppies from puppy mills despite their claims to the contrary — we have clear evidence substantiating this,” she urges.
Bresch goes on to say that similar legislation for regulatory oversight has not proven effective, and provide a mask for inhuman breeding and selling to hide behind.
“it is also clear that the regulatory approach, attempted over many years, has failed. A study would simply allow pet stores to continue to hide behind the façade of rescue while still engaging in the inhumane commercial pet trade,” she continues.