A bill recently introduced in the Iowa Senate would likely have an extremely damaging impact on...
A bill recently introduced in the Iowa Senate would likely have an extremely damaging impact on small breeders and fanciers and further prevent them from participating in traditional rescue activities.
This bill is expected to move very quickly. It is imperative that Iowa dog owners and breeders contact their State Senator TODAY and ask them to oppose Senate File 2166. Click here to find the name and contact information for your State Senator. Contact information for the full Senate can be found here.
Background – Understanding Current Law:
Current Iowa law defines a "commercial breeder" as someone who sells, exchanges, or leases dogs (or even offers to do so) in return for consideration. While those who keep dogs or cats for "hunting, for practice training, for exhibition at shows or field or obedience trials" are exempted, if a person has four or more intact dogs and receives any kind of consideration for breeding, they are considered a commercial breeder and must be licensed and comply with commercial breeder laws. This includes offering a stud dog and receiving any compensation or "consideration" from the resulting litter. The term "consideration" is not defined.
Summary of Senate File 2166:
Senate File 2166 creates many new regulations and requirements for those who meet the broad definition of “commercial breeder”. Highlights of significant changes include:
Prohibiting 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.
Significantly increasing license fees to pay for animal seizures – Currently, the registration fee is $175. This covers the state department of agriculture’s administrative costs for managing the commercial breeder program. SF 2166 requires “commercial breeders” to pay that amount plus an additional amount based on the number of dogs kept on your property. This includes any dogs “kept for breeding” (it is assumed this means intact dogs) that happen to be on your property during an inspection. The additional amount starts at $100 and increases to $2,500 depending on the number of dogs. The lowest threshold is for those who have at least one dog or cat. It is unclear why it mentions those who keep one dog when the threshold for commercial breeder is four dogs.
The fee increases will 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”, 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.
The egregious fee increases are unnecessary and would be a significant burden on breeders. There is also concern for continued fee increases in the future to fund this new program.
Mandating inspections of all “commercial breeders” – Current law allows the state’s agriculture department to inspect those licensed as “commercial breeders”. Under S 2166, anyone who meets the definition of “commercial breeder” must make their premises available for inspection during normal business hours as a condition of obtaining or renewing a license. The bill would further require the Agriculture Department to inspect all “commercial breeders” 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.
This should be of particular concern to people who keep a few dogs in their home and do not have “normal business hours” because they could find themselves in violation of state law simply for keeping intact dogs and not being home when the inspector comes. It is also an unnecessary and costly drain on state resources.
Requiring extensive changes to primary enclosures – Breeders would be given until the end of 2015 to make their primary enclosures twice the size required by USDA. By January 1, 2016, all enclosures must be three times the current USDA requirement. If the breeder has more than 10 dogs, the primary enclosure must include permanent, unfettered access to an attached outdoor run. This would basically require all breeders to rebuild kennels at a significant cost – above and beyond the new annual fees they will be required to pay.
The bill is extensive and contains numerous other provisions including requiring a veterinary-approved exercise plan developed in accordance with rules that will be developed by the department of agriculture, prohibiting wire flooring, and many other requirements and regulations. Anyone who has four intact dogs is encouraged to review the bill to see how it would impact you.
AKC Government Relations will continue to provide more information on this bill as it becomes available. Contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.