Iowa Considering Unreasonable New Regulation of Dog Owners, Groomers, Breeders and Rescues

Iowa already has some of the most restrictive breeder regulation in the nation. Nevertheless, legislation has once again been introduced to expand the state’s regulation of dog breeders, hobbyists, fanciers, groomers, and rescues and require them to pay significant license fees. Proposals are currently pending in both the Iowa House and Senate. Iowa dog owners, breeders, and fanciers are strongly encouraged to contact your State Senator and ask them to once again oppose Senate File 502, which was originally introduced in 2015. Also contact the House Commerce Committee and ask them to oppose House Study Bill 560.

Iowa already has some of the most restrictive breeder regulation in the nation.  Nevertheless, legislation has once again been introduced to expand the state’s regulation of dog breeders, hobbyists, fanciers, groomers, and rescues and require them to pay significant license fees.  Proposals are currently pending in both the Iowa House and Senate. 

Iowa dog owners, breeders, and fanciers are strongly encouraged to contact your State Senator and ask them to once again oppose Senate File 502, which was originally introduced in 2015. Contact information for the full Senate can be found here

Also contact the House Commerce Committee and ask them to oppose House Study Bill 560.  Contact information for the committee may be found here

Respectfully tell the legislators that Iowa already has extensive laws regulating breeders and more laws are not necessary, nor will they improve the lives of dogs in Iowa. 

Summary:

Current Iowa law requires licensing and regulation as a commercial breeder for anyone who maintains four or more intact dogs and receives any kind of consideration for breeding or transferring even a single dog.  This could likely include offering a stud dog and receiving any compensation or "consideration" (such as a puppy back) from the resulting litter. Although exemptions are available for certain individuals who keep dogs or cats for "hunting, practice training, for exhibition at shows or field or obedience trials", many hobbyists do not qualify for these exemptions, and the exemptions do not apply if you breed dogs or offer a stud dog.

Current law also defines a “pet shop” as an establishment where a dog is bought, sold or offered for sale. The only exemptions to this would be those who receive less than $500 in a year for the sale of animals or those who sell/exchange fewer than 6 dogs. 

The bills create many new regulations and requirements for those who meet these existing, overly broad definitions of “commercial breeder” and “pet shop” in current law, as well as new licenses for “small breeders, competitive show breeders or specialized breeders”.  These new requirements include:

  • Requirement for purchase of multiple licenses – Both HSB 560 and SF 502 would require someone to purchase multiple licenses if they meet more than one definition.  For example, if someone meets the definition of “commercial breeder” and also ever boards dogs, or fosters animals in conjunction with a rescue, they would have to get a license for each activity.  With the broad definition of “pet shop”, it is likely that many would be considered both a pet shop and commercial breeder and therefore be required to purchase more than one license at significant expense, depending how many licenses the person has and in some cases how many dogs are at the residence. 

 

  • Proposed license fees are significant higher than what is required in current law.  The monies collected would be deposited in a new “animal rescue remediation fund” to reimburse local authorities for “expenses incurred for the rescuing of an animal from a commercial establishment” (this includes breeders, rescues shelters, grooming facilities, etc.), as well as the “maintenance” of the animals and their “disposition” if required by the court after a hearing.  Current law already allows the court to require someone accused of cruelty to post a bond during the hearing to pay for the care of the animals.These fee increases are unnecessary, and create a significant burden on breeders and small businesses. Furthermore, the new fund would defame in statute the integrity of anyone who might be considered commercial breeder under this law. 

 

 

  • Creation of a new license for “small breeders, competitive show breeders, and specialized breeders”– A less-costly license would be offered for “small breeders, competitive show breeders, and specialized breeders” – defined as those who breed fewer than three litters of puppies a year and sell a dog. The measure says that a commercial breeder is not the same as those who would fall into this category.  However, it is unclear whether someone who shows dogs, but also keeps four intact dogs and receives any kind of compensation for offering a stud dog or giving away one dog would be able to apply for this license, or if they would still be considered a commercial breeder as defined in current law.

    Those who obtain this special license would not be required to be inspected if evidence is submitted to the state that each dog has been examined by a veterinarian within the last 12 months and each dog has received all vaccinations as recommended by the AVMA or American Animal Hospital Association. 

 

  • Mandatory inspections of all licensees – Current law allows the state’s agriculture department to inspect those licensed as “commercial breeders”.  These proposals would require the state to inspect at least once a year during normal business hours “at any time” as a condition of obtaining or renewing a license.  All “commercial breeders” must also be inspected a minimum of once a year.  Breeders would be required to provide a copy of the inspection report to all who purchase a dog from them. As the current definition of “commercial breeder” could include those who keep dogs in their home, this requirement could prove a challenge as they may not have “normal business hours”.  It would also be a significant drain on state resources to require these inspections, as opposed to leaving them up to the department’s discretion.
     
  • Prohibition of certain breeders to be involved in certain rescue activities– The bill prohibits any “commercial breeder” from owning, operating, or maintaining a controlling interest in an “animal shelter”.  “Animal shelter” is defined as an organization operated by a local humane society, animal welfare society or other nonprofit organization devoted to the welfare, protection, and humane treatment of animals that is used to receive, rescue, house and transfer animals.  It is unclear how a “controlling interest” is defined, and whether it would impact breeders who also serve as foster homes and are engaged in other rescue activities on behalf of non-profit rescues and shelters.  This could also impact parent club rescues if they are registered as a non-profit organization.

AKC Government Relations will continue to provide more information on this proposal as it becomes available.  Contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for more information.