By Scott Tibbs, March 5, 2009
There have been several letters to the editor denouncing "puppy mills" in the Herald-Times over the last year, as well as a push for legislation regulating dog breeding operations to ensure puppies bred for companionship are kept in humane conditions before they are sent to pet stores. (See letters from 12/03/2008, 10/24/2008, 7/31/2008, 4/12/2008 and 12/13/2007.)
This seems like a common-sense piece of legislation. Obviously, those who breed puppies for their livelihood should be expected by society to provide humane living conditions. Among other things, HB 1468 requires breeders "maintain sanitary conditions of the premises where dogs are present; maintain and use equipment for the care of the dogs in a manner to ensure the proper storage and disposal of waste and any disease contaminated material; control vermin, insects, the spread of pests or disease, and obnoxious odors. Breeders are also required to provide and maintain natural or artificial illumination in all areas where dogs are kept. provide ventilation to minimize drafts, offensive odors, and moisture condensation; and ensure that each dog that is at least 12 weeks of age has access to an exercise area every day for at least one hour.
The legislation is not without its critics. H-T columnist Mike Leonard reported that an e-mail circulated a few weeks ago criticized the Humane Society of the United States as an animal rights activist group that "now has ties with PETA and ALF, both groups considered by the FBI to be terrorist groups." Leonard reported that the HSUS was accused of wanting to end all animal breeding and "wipe out domesticated animals in general." It is true that Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is well known for saying "pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation." But the extremist position of lunatics like Newkirk should not prevent reasonable regulations protecting animal welfare.
To attack a reasonable enhancement of animal welfare regulations by linking it to terrorism is laughable and damages the credibility of opponents of HB 1468. The vast majority of those who advocate animal welfare do not support animal rights as defined by PETA and ALF. Animal welfare and animal rights are very different. That some lunatics engage in terrorism to advance the cause of "animal rights" has nothing to do with those who advocate non-violence, just as lunatics who bomb abortion clinics should not be used to discredit abortion opponents that oppose and denounce such violence.
The only problem I have with HB 1468 is that it should have been passed and signed into law decades ago. As the owner of two dogs, I am infuriated when animals are neglected, kept in deplorable conditions, or abused. HB 1468 should pass by a vote of 100-0 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate.