The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

State News

April 29, 2009

Lawmakers approve bill to regulate dog breeders

INDIANAPOLIS — Supporters of a bill to regulate large-scale dog breeding operations hope the legislation will have an immediate impact on so-called “puppy mills” around the state.

Bill sponsor Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said the bill that won final legislative approval late Wednesday will allow the state to start cracking down on irresponsible breeders.

“It’s a great start,” Lawson said of the bill.

The proposal would toughen animal abuse laws and require commercial dog breeders to register with the state. It would require breeders to offer dogs daily exercise and set other minimum standards of care for the animals.

“This bill is a monumental step forward,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Elkhart. “This bill will work. We will put these bad actors out of business.”

The legislation unanimously passed the House and cleared the Senate on a 44-4 vote. It now moves to Gov. Mitch Daniels for consideration.

Under the proposal, cities and counties couldn’t enact tougher local animal ordinances after Dec. 31. Communities that already have tougher standards or those that pass new ordinances this year would be allowed to keep their stricter rules.

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said she was worried that the bill could affect farmers and voted against the bill. But Sen. Brent Steele, a Republican from Bedford who was part of a conference committee working on the proposal, said farmers had nothing to worry about and explained that the dog breeding regulations only deal with dogs, not farm animals. Steele said he wouldn’t agree to the proposal if he thought it would harm his rural district.

“I don’t think I would be signing my name to a conference committee report that I thought for one second would be a springboard to put my farmers out of business,” Steele said.

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