Lawmakers Join Animal Welfare Groups For Responsible Breeder Laws In K
A handful of Kansas lawmakers and animal welfare advocates have surprisingly held up a bill that would more strongly regulate inspections on pet stores, as well as increase the fees for stores who have violations. But the reason they are holding the bill up is because they want the bill to be even tougher, and to include breeders and kennels in the inspections and the fee increases.
According to the 2016 annual report from the Humane Society of the United States, Kansas was ranked third worst when it came to those who sold dogs. That report listed 15 breeders in the state who were cited for violations, including unsanitary conditions for dogs, or unhealthy dogs.
A bill to help this travesty is in front of legislators in the Kansas House and Senate, but they can’t come to agreement about a few points–namely ‘surprise’ inspections of breeders. The bill at hand currently only addresses pet stores, but legislators like Rep. Sydney Carlin wants the bill to include breeders in the regulations and surprise inspections. He said that giving breeders notice of an inspection will give them time to cover up their violations, and animal welfare groups agree.
While the Senate fee increase aspect of the bill moved forward, the House rejected the bill because of the surprise provision issue, as well as the fact that many lawmakers believe that breeders should be onsite when an inspector comes and should be charged a fee if they are not.
In March, Rebecca Mosshart, a dog breeder of over 31 years and member of the Kansas Federation of Animal Owners and Kansas Pet Professionals, said that that provision of the bill is simply not easy for breeders who live in rural places, saying that without notice, she may not have enough time to be onsite for inspection. That said, under licensing contracts that breeders must fill out to be in accordance with the law, breeders or representatives capable of inspection must be onsite for certain days and hours of the week. Mosshart told Rep. Virgil Weigel that this is often not possible as she often has to be away from her home for vet visits. She said a heads up for an inspection would be helpful, and avoid the fines breeders are subject to under contract with USDA.
Similarly, Steve Hitchcock, also with the Kansas Federation of Animal Owners, said that the breeders in his organization take issue with having to have two sets of eyes overseeing their operations (referencing the USDA and the state). He also opposes the increased fees because he believes good breeders may be charged for things that are simply out of their hands. Giving a heads up, according to Hitchcock, can take the issue of missing the inspection away, without giving enough time to clean up violations.
Rep. Carlin disagrees. He believes a lot can be done in just a short time to clean up dead animals or to hide sick ones. He believes that if Kansas wants to clean up their reputation, they need to ensure that breeders are responsibly breeding all the time.
We have to agree. If you are responsible breeder, why wouldn’t you want a surprise inspection? That could only help the reputation of your program, and your state’s programs, and help responsible breeders everywhere. It sounds awfully fishy that your concerns about a surprise inspection are that you live too far to be on premises for it, especially when under licensing contract, you are supposed to be regardless. If you’re doing everything right, there should be no issue whatsoever.
Good job, Kansas! We hope this continues to be a step in the right direction for Kansas breeders and their animals.
More by Lori Ennis