The Indiana Senate approved a bill yesterday to regulate large-scale dog-breeding operations, a move supporters said could help crack down on so-called puppy mills.
The bill, which passed 46-3, would require people to register as breeders if they have more than 20 adult female dogs capable of breeding. The bill also would require those who sell at least 500 dogs a year to register as commercial dog brokers. Brokers and breeders would pay annual registration fees to help fund state inspections.
Under the Senate proposal, breeders would have to comply with certain regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They would have to provide their dogs with cages large enough for them to move inside and give them a chance for exercise at least once a day. They also could not keep a dog in a wire cage unless the dog had room to move off the wire floor.
Animal welfare groups say it can be difficult or painful for dogs to stand in wire cages and spend their entire lives in cramped quarters.
Senate sponsor Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis) said the proposal would start to regulate the state’s multimillion-dollar dog breeding industry without harming responsible breeders.
“I think it does address some serious problems we have in Indiana as we became known as one of the states that had the fewest regulations,” Lubbers said. “I think this will go a long way to dealing with those problems.”
The House-passed version of the proposal would have limited the number of dogs breeders could have to no more than 30 female adult dogs that are not spayed. The House version also outlined specific standards of care – such as providing dogs with sanitary conditions, light and ventilation – instead of using the USDA regulations.
The proposal now heads to a conference committee, where Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate will seek a compromise bill before the legislative session ends April 29.
Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond), the House sponsor, acknowledged that she might have to compromise on some issues to get the legislation passed. But she said she would again suggest a limit on female dogs when the conference committee meets.
“We’re not going to solve the problem if we don’t have a cap,” she said.