On July 8th, Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee signed legislation meant to regulate mass breeding facilities. The state finally added a law in its books that requires breeders to give basic humane care to animals and be subject to inspections. The move shows a step forward in the fight against puppy mills and indicates a change in the public’s opinion about the issue. Despite the efforts, the change won’t eliminate the problem. Lawmakers aren’t attempting to outlaw puppy mills, they are trying to regulate breeding facilities.
The bill was significantly weakened by several amendments and revisions. Originally, the proposition placed a limit of 75 intact dogs per commercial breeder which would only affect puppy mills since most reputable breeders are small scale operations. Also, the bill no longer authorizes confiscation of animals or criminal penalties, using civil fines of $50 to $1000 per violation instead.
One of the most important aspects of the law is that large scale commercial operations with more than 20 unsterilized female dogs maintained for breeding purposes must obtain a license from the Department of Health. It establishes that inspections are a prerequisite for licensure as well as abiding by new humane care standards for dogs and cats. The bill also holds the mass breeders accountable by forcing them to adhere to Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, which would allow people who bought sick dogs to seek legal actions against the puppy mill operators.
The bill was first introduced by state Sen. Doug Jackson after witnessing the conditions in a Tennessee puppy mill operated by Patricia Adkisson . The owner of the infamous Tennessee facility was charged with 24 counts of felony aggravated cruelty and nine counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. For more information about the bill, visit the http://www.animallawcoalition.com/companion-animal-breeding/article/68“>Animal Law Coalition website or read the bill summary from the Tennessee government website