April 25, 2014
Through another procedural move, the bill number for the onerous breeder regulations bill has once again changed. The bill was also amended and passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is now pending in the Senate.
The amendments made to this bill are not in the best interest of dogs or responsible dog breeders. It is imperative that Iowa breeders and dog owners contact their State Senator AND State Representative TODAY and ask them to not support any breeder regulations this session. Click here to find the name and contact information for your state legislators.
Under current Iowa law, 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. Senate File 2361 (previously Senate File 2254) creates many new regulations and requirements for those who meet this definition. Our concerns include:
- New “special” license for certain breeders – Amendments adopted by the Ways and Means Committee would exempt those who purchase a “special type of license” from certain provisions of the bill. However, the special license is only for “small breeders, competitive show breeders, or specialized breeders.” None of these terms are defined and there is no indication on how this would be determined, beyond that those with this license may not produce more than three litters or thirty puppies during the period of the license. It is unclear, however, if this is how the terms “small breeders, competitive show breeders, or specialized breeders” would be defined, or if this a special requirement for those who keep this type of license.
In addition, those with this license would still be required to comply with the majority of the care and conditions requirements in the bill, including making all primary enclosures two times the size required by USDA by January 2015. “Special” licensees would also still be required to have their kennels inspected unless evidence is submitted that each dog has been examined by a veterinarian within the year and all vaccinations required by the department have been administered.
Also, if someone falls into more than one category (i.e. “commercial breeder”, boarding/training kennel, etc.), then separate licenses must be obtained. For example, under current law, someone could be considered a “pet shop” if they sell more than six animals in a year or receive more than $500. If this person also has four intact dogs, they could also be considered a “commercial breeder” and be required to obtain a pet shop license even if they are obtaining a “special” license.
The “special license” is vague, confusing, and not in the best interest of responsible breeders.
- Increased 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 2361 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 $7,500 depending on the number of dogs. This does not apply to those with a special license.
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.
- Requiring extensive changes to primary enclosures – All breeders (even those with a special license) would be given until the end of 2015 to make their primary enclosures twice the size required by USDA.
If the breeder has more than 10 dogs, the dogs may only be kept in a primary enclosure that “allows each dog to exercise 12 hours per day by accessing an outdoor run” unless the dog is under 7 months of age, is suffering from a condition that would not be improved by being outdoors, or if the outdoor conditions would cause discomfort or injury. Breeders with a “special” license would be exempt from this requirement. It is unclear why this requirement is in the bill, however, since all breeders would also be required to provide regular exercise and develop an exercise plan in conjunction with a veterinarian.
These provisions would require responsible breeders with safe, humane kennels to rebuild at a significant cost – above and beyond the new annual fees they will be required to pay.
The AKC strongly believes all dogs deserve life in a safe, healthy and humane environment and that no dog should be kept in conditions where these basic needs are not met. However, these and many other provisions in the bill are not in the best interest of dogs or responsible Iowa breeders.
April 25, 2014