Every evening when I walk in the door, El Chapo (translation: Shorty) comes running, his tail propelling his hind end in never-ending circles as all seven pounds of his Chihuahua being exult in my homecoming. Chapo’s tail tells me whether he is feeling fearful or happy. He puts his paw on my hand to let me know it is time for him to be petted, or he scoots his water bowl around the floor to let me know it is empty.
In other words, even El Chapo, with one of the smallest brains in the world of dogs, is able to express his emotions, his needs and his pain. He can problem-solve, communicate and form an emotional bond with me. El Chapo is sentient, which means he is “conscious of or responsive to the sensations of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling.”
As a sentient being, imagine being confined within a puppy mill, a business intended to produce as many puppies as possible at the lowest cost possible. This means the medical, social and emotional needs of dogs in puppy mills are not met; the guideline is not what is best for the dog, but rather how much the dog’s care is going to cost the business.
When an adult dog is no longer able to reproduce, the dog is either dumped into an overfilled shelter or killed. Many of these dogs spend their entire lives in cages, never touching grass or being able to run and play and never being loved. The regulations regarding puppy mills are few, and enforcement is lacking.
Twenty-one Indiana municipalities whose residents do not support puppy mills or backyard breeders circumvented the pain and suffering inflicted by these operations by enacting ordinances that prohibit the sale of dogs by pet stores. All stores seek to buy “product” as inexpensively as possible to make the greatest profit. This is why pet stores look to puppy mills as suppliers.
If you are a puppy-mill owner, you do not like the idea that you are foreclosed from selling your “product” in some of the larger markets in Indiana, so you find legislators who will advocate your cause and prohibit Indiana cities from enacting/enforcing such ordinances. Reps. Beau Baird, Mike Aylesworth and Robert Morris and Sens. Blake Doriot and Jean Leising are leading the fight to usurp the authority of the municipalities by taking away the power to prohibit the sale of puppy-mill dogs in pet stores. House Bill 1412 has now passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.
The bill is titled Canine Standard of Care. This is laughable because it imposes no new requirements on puppy mills regarding care. While it requires all commercial and hobby breeders to register with the state (currently many are unknown), the enforcement power is dependent upon the amount of fees flowing into the state from enforcement actions. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that, if you lack the ability to enforce, you lack the ability to fund, which then leads to a lack of ability to enforce, etc. The proverbial hamster wheel that goes nowhere.
Fifty-nine Indiana representatives have taken the position that the welfare of the puppy mills and hobby breeders takes top consideration over the suffering of sentient dogs. We need to lend a voice and support to those dogs who are trapped in puppy mills. On behalf of our furry family members, encourage your state senator to vote no on HB 1412.•
Celestino-Horseman is an Indianapolis attorney. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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