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March 15, 2019

A bill making numerous changes to Iowa’s breeder laws continues to move through the Iowa House of Representatives. While some changes are a positive advancement, there are many concerning provisions that could unnecessarily harm dogs and responsible dog owners and breeders.

Due to Iowa legislative procedures, House Study Bill 227, which passed the House Local Government Committee, has been amended and is now House File 738.  This bill is now pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.  Iowa residents are strongly encouraged to contact both the House Ways and Means Committee and their State Representative TODAY and express concerns with House File 738.  Scroll down for committee contact information. 


As currently written, House File 738 would make several changes to Iowa’s breeder laws, including:

  • Creating a new definition of commercial breeder – Iowa has long had one of the most stringent breeder definitions in the United States, defining a “commercial breeder” as anyone who has more than three breeding dogs (male or female) and sells or exchanges even one dog in exchange for any consideration.HF 738 would define a commercial breeder as one who keeps five or more cats or dogs at any time during 12 consecutive months, breeds those dogs or cats AND does one of the following:

    1) Sells five or more dogs or cats to a commercial breeder, dealer, or pet store,
    2) Sells 40 or more dogs under 12 months of age on a retail basis within a year, or
    3) Keeps more than 40 puppies (under six months of age) during the 12 consecutive months that were at the commercial establishment since the time of birth

A person must keep five or more dogs or cats, breed them, AND meet one of the three criteria in order to be considered a commercial breeder.  Numerous new regulations and a new license fee schedule would be required for those who meet this definition.

The AKC appreciates that this gets closer to a definition of a true “commercial” operation, but recommends that the language relating to the number of intact dogs be removed in its entirety.  It is very difficult to enforce, and the ownership of intact dogs does not indicate true commercial activity.  Further, the AKC is asking that the word “retail” be removed from the requirement to sell 40 or more dogs in a year, so as not to inadvertently confuse breeders with retail pet stores.

  • Establishing new licenses for other entities, including a “commercial rescue”; however these rescues do not have to comply with the standards of care required of commercial breeders – A “commercial rescue” is defined as someone who is the custodian of 10 or more dogs or cats at any time in a consecutive 12-month period who does ALL of the following:
    1) Accepts dogs or cats from 5 or more people (not family), or has taken custody of at least 5 abandoned animals
    2) Is prepared to maintain the dogs or cats on a permanent basis, and
    3) Relinquishes or offers to relinquish custody by adoption to members of the public or offers to permanently care for the animals suffering from a terminal illness.

If the purpose of the bill is truly to improve the welfare of dogs in the state, the standards of care should apply to all licensees, including those kept by “commercial rescues”.

  • Allowing for seizure of all animals for even one violation of the standards of care – The AKC strongly agrees that all dogs deserve humane care and their basic needs should always be met. Under House File 738, an extensive set of procedures are established to provide warnings to breeders for violations and an opportunity for correction and re-inspection.  The AKC appreciates these new procedures and believes they should be utilized for a first-time, non-critical violation before all animals are seized.These are just a few highlights of this comprehensive bill.  Iowa breeders are encouraged to review the proposal to see how it would impact your kennel and breeding program.

What You Can Do:

  • Contact your State Representative and express your concerns with House File 738. Even if you have already called regarding HSB 227, please call again and let them know that concerns still remain with the bill.  Use the “Find Your Legislator” tool on the Iowa Legislature’s web site to find the contact information for your State Representative, and be sure to mention you are a constituent when contacting them.
  • Contact the members of the House Committee on Ways and Means. This bill could be considered by the committee at any time.  Please contact the committee and ask them to not advance House File 738:

Rep. Lee Hein, Chair –
Rep. Jacob Bossman, Vice Chair –
Rep. Dave Jacoby, Ranking Member –
Rep. Jane Bloomingdale –
Rep. Timi Brown-Powers –
Rep. Gary L. Carlson –
Rep. John Forbes –
Rep. Mary Gaskill –
Rep. Dustin Hite –
Rep. Steven Holt –
Rep. Charles Isenhart –
Rep. Lindsay James –
Rep. Megan Jones –
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann –
Rep. Monica Kurth –
Rep. Jeff Kurtz –
Rep. David E. Maxwell –
Rep. Charlie McConkey –
Rep. Amy Nielsen –
Rep. Anne Osmundson –
Rep. David Sieck –
Rep. Skyler Wheeler –
Rep. Matt W. Windschitl –
Rep. Mary Lynn Wolfe –
Rep. Louis J. Zumbach –

AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor this bill and provide more information as it becomes available.  For more information, contact