Numerous state and local measures have included nearly identical legislative findings that are inaccurate, offensive to breeders, and directly reference “HSUS puppy mill estimates.” Such findings are designed to limit debate from the start, undermine alternative sources of information and put opponents on the defensive.
While legislative findings are not actual laws, inaccurate, pejorative or inappropriate pronouncements should have no place in legislative language.
One key example of a measure that included such findings was an Illinois State Senate bill to declare a “Puppy Mill Awareness Day.” The resolution claimed that there are “tens of thousands “of dogs and cats in Illinois shelters that have not been reclaimed by their owners, and implied that breeders are responsible for pet overpopulation issues in the state. Pets end up in shelters for a variety of reasons including owner relinquishment, stray and lost pets, and importation from out of state. (AKC Government Relations, AKC’s Illinois federation, professional breeders and industry all worked together to get the measure pulled from consideration.)
Maryland House Bill 645 stated that there are “countless” unwanted dogs and cats. Yet, like the Illinois bill, no definitive independent sources were provided to back up this claim.
In the Illinois, Maryland and other similar measures, the pejorative phrase “puppy mill” is used to describe breeders, which is highly offensive to high-quality breeders.
AKC supports reporting requirements to research the veracity of such claims and to better track and understand issues of pet ownership, population and distribution. A solid understanding of the facts is a better approach to overpopulation and pet distribution concerns than unsupported claims, pejorative language or inappropriate “solutions.”