Archive for April 13, 2009
Another Kind of Factory Farm in Iowa: Let State Inspectors Into Puppy Mills
Blog for Iowa would like to call your attention to yesterday's post, an article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, as background for today's BFIA Action Alert. We think we should all be in agreement on this one! When viewed within the broader context of the human species' ethical obligations to other species, well, simply put, if you can't find compassion for the life of a puppy, what kind of person are you? Italics in the articles below are BFIA's. Action Alert follows.
Humane Society of the United States HSUS.org
A recent statewide survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. reveals that 86 percent of Iowa voters support legislation that would strengthen protections for dogs in large-scale breeding facilities known as puppy mills, while only 9 percent oppose tougher regulations. Overwhelming margins in every demographic group — men, women, Democrats, Republicans and Independents — support legislation to crack down on puppy mills. Iowa is the third-largest puppy mill state in the country.
Bills to strengthen Iowa's oversight of puppy mills — H.F. 486 [click here for text] by Rep. Jim Lykam, D-85, and S.F. 265 [click here for text] by veterinarian Sen. Joe Seng, D-43 — have been introduced and are awaiting committee action. Puppy mills are mass dog breeding facilities that keep animals in factory farm confinement, often in filthy wire cages stacked on top of each other, with no exercise, socialization, or human interaction. Dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, over the Internet, and directly to consumers with little or no regard for the dog's health or genetic history.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects some puppy mills, but only those that sell wholesale to pet stores — not those that sell over the Internet or directly to the public. Iowa is one of only two states (along with Kansas) where state officials are not able to inspect these puppy mills, even if complaints have been reported. The new legislation would give the Iowa Department of Agriculture the authority to inspect these facilities if they receive complaints.
The bill would not affect responsible breeders, who already keep their dogs in humane conditions, or the livestock community. It also will not require the Iowa Department of Agriculture to spend any additional resources, but simply will give the agency additional tools for pursuing investigations and enforcement if they choose to do so.
Thanks also to John Carlson, The Des Moines Register, for calling attention to the issue and laying out the situation as it exists in Iowa. You can thank him via e-mail at: email@example.com right after you contact your legislators.
The Des Moines Register
by JOHN CARLSON
There are 486 dog-breeding facilities in Iowa licensed by the USDA, all acting as wholesalers, selling dogs to pet stores and brokers. They house tens of thousands of dogs.
Three USDA employees are assigned to inspect them. That's about 160 facilities per inspector. Robert Gibbens, regional director of the USDA animal inspection division, said it is a nearly impossible job.
A bill in the Iowa Legislature would allow state inspectors into these places for the first time.
“The new law would allow state inspectors to take a look at federally licensed facilities if a complaint is filed,” said Rep. Jim Lykam, D-Davenport, a sponsor of the bill.
“If they find a problem, they could call the USDA. If they see violations of the law, they could call the sheriff and ask that criminal charges be filed.
“Responsible breeders have nothing to worry about,” Lykam said.
This is especially important now because we are just a few days before this session of the Iowa Legislature adjourns for the year. Word is, the bill is going nowhere. It has not met deadlines to advance beyond the committee level. But Lykam was optimistic, and there are plenty of ways to revive bills, so anything could happen.
A “no” vote would be hard for a legislator to explain.
Our legislators can take a tiny step to do something about it this week. They can pass a bill that allows state inspections of these hideous places we have chosen to ignore.
Copy/paste this action alert into an e-mail and pass on, then please contact your legislators