May 5, 2015
A bill remains active in Iowa that would further regulate breeders, hobbyists, fanciers, groomers, and rescues and require them to pay significant license fees. Iowa dog owners, breeders, and fanciers are strongly encouraged to contact your State Senator and ask them to oppose Senate File 502. Even if you already contacted your Senator on a previous version of this bill, please do so again and let them know that the latest version is still not acceptable and will not help improve the lives of dogs in Iowa. 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 or transferring even a single dog, they are considered a commercial breeder and must be licensed and comply with commercial breeder laws. This could include offering a stud dog and receiving any compensation or “consideration” (such as a puppy back) from the resulting litter. The term “consideration” is not defined.
Current law also defines a “pet shop” as “an establishment where a dog… is bought, sold, exchanged, 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.
Summary of Senate File 502:
Senate File 502 (which was introduced on May 4 and approved by the Senate Ways & Means Committee) is very similar to Senate Files 168 and 347 considered earlier this year. The bill creates many new regulations and requirements for those who meet the broad definition of “commercial breeder” and “pet shop” in current law, as well as new licenses for hobbyists. Some highlights of the significant changes include:
- Mandatory inspections of all licensees – Current law allows the state’s agriculture department to inspect those licensed as “commercial breeders”. Under this bill, 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.
- 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 and sell dogs, and keep during a state fiscal year three litters or 30 puppies, whichever is fewer. The bill clarifies that a commercial breeder is not the same as those who would fall into this category. It is very unclear whether someone who shows dogs, but also keeps four breeding 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 required by the state, which are based on recommendations from the AVMA or American Animal Hospital Association.
- Significant increase of 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 502 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 – unless you have a “special type of license” – starts at $100 and increases to $7,500 depending on the number of dogs. The lowest threshold is for those who have 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” (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.
The uncapped fee increases are unnecessary, and create a significant burden on breeders and small businesses. Furthermore, the provision would defame in statute the integrity of anyone who might be considered commercial breeder under this law.
- Multiple licenses requirement for those who meet more than one definition – If a person falls into more than one category, then it appears that under this bill, multiple licenses will need to be obtained. This includes licenses for rescue efforts (those who receive at least 6 adult dogs in a year who keep them on a temporary basis until they are transferred to another shelter or rescue or adopted to members of the public). It could also apply to those who meet the broad definition of “pet shop”, “boarding kennel” or “grooming facility”, each of which would likely require a separate license.
The bill states that the definition of grooming facility does not apply to those who only offer grooming services at their residence, at a mobile business, provide the service as an incidental part of their commercial kennel operations, or keep the dog for less than 24 hours. It is unclear exactly who would be required to obtain a grooming license under this bill.
- 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 bill as it becomes available. Contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A bill remains active in Iowa that would further regulate breeders, hobbyists, fanciers, groomers, and rescues and require them to pay significant license fees. Iowa dog owners, breeders, and fanciers are strongly encouraged to contact your State Senator and ask them to oppose Senate File 502. Even if you already contacted your Senator on a previous version of this bill, please do so again and let them know that the latest version is still not acceptable and will not help improve the lives of dogs in Iowa.