All Iowans must contact their state senator to oppose HF 589 / SF 431!!!
Update: HF 589 / SF 431 has passed in the House and is now in the Senate.
When puppy mill operators know they can’t win, they try to change the rules. That’s precisely what they did in Iowa. A new bill, introduced by Rep. Annette Sweeney, provides unscrupulous breeders protections against undercover investigations.
Iowa House File 589 amends Iowa Code 717A, which relates to agricultural production including criminal penalties for animal facilities. The most troubling part of the bill pertains to the prohibition of producing, possessing, and/or distributing undercover video and/or audio recordings of activities within an animal facility.
The bill has some big name supporters like Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer and several Iowa agricultural associations. While no big puppy mill facility in Iowa officially supported the bill, they will reap the benefits now that it passed. The final tally for the House vote was 66-22, with all the nays coming from democrats like Rep. Jim Lykam and Rep. Pat Murphy. The bill still needs to pass the Senate.
“The overwhelming majority of farmers and people that own breeding facilities and all that here in Iowa operate very reputable businesses and treat their animals well. That’s how they make their money,” said Rep. Murphy. “But for that small percentage that has a problem with it, you’ve got to wonder what they want to hide.”
While livestock facilities are subject to state official inspections, companion animal mass breeders run their business with just occasional USDA surveillance. Without comprehensive legislation about the issue, even the federal government remains critically understaffed and powerless to handle the volume of work required to keep the industry in check in states like Iowa.
“Iowa is a relatively small state but ranks 3rd in the number of puppy mills, 2nd on the number of puppies sold, more than 74,000 a year and there’s no state oversight of this booming industry,” said Emily Price in a special report for KCCI TV from Des Moines, Iowa.
In the absence of effective government processes, organizations like CAPS followed up on complaints and performed undercover investigations. In some cases, like Kathy Bauck, the evidence collected was crucial in stopping unlawful animal cruelty. Without undercover video and audio, these organizations would lose a critical weapon in the fight against mistreatment of innocent animals.
The website Iowa Voters for Companion Animals showcased in their website how CAPS gathered incriminating undercover footage from three separate Iowa locations. The graphic images represent a stark reminder of the necessity of such measures and the ineffectiveness of the overworked USDA inspectors.
For more information about puppy mills go to CAPS’ website and for ways you can help fight HF 589 go to the Iowa Voters for Companion Animals website.