Legislation Proposed to Fight Iowa’s Puppy Mill Problem
Just over two weeks ago, a puppy mill in southeast Iowa was hammered with $40,000 in fines due to conditions that the animals were in. 500 dogs from the mill were also surrendered to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.
Unfortunately, this wasn't an isolated incident in the Hawkeye State. In May of 2021, The Humane Society released their list of the 'Horrible Hundred,' counting the 100 worst puppy mills in the country. Iowa ranked third on the list with 11. Missouri was first with 22 and Ohio was second with 16.
With the prevalence of the issue, Cindy Axne, who represents the third district in Iowa, "introduced legislation Wednesday to close loopholes for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which has declined over the past few years," according to iowastartingline.com.
Axne's website elaborates:
Over the years, records of violations from breeders by the USDA have dramatically declined. Enforcement plummeted in 2020 when the USDA opened only 30 new AWA enforcement cases—a decline of nearly 90% from the 252 cases it opened in 2014 . Additionally, the USDA has imposed no penalties against any commercial dog dealers since 2017.
The representative added this in a press release:
If one breeder can rack up nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act with impunity, then it’s clear there are loopholes in current law that need to be addressed. We must ensure bad actors are held accountable by USDA and that our law is crystal clear on what should be done to promote animal welfare.
The site continues, explaining that the bill will require the USDA to:
- Conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections
- Confiscate animals that are suffering
- Impose deterring monetary penalties for violations
- Share inspection information in a timely manner with local law enforcement
Axne added a request to investigate the USDA failure at the Wayne County puppy mill.
Several animal rights organizations are in support of the bill as well, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa, Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Dubbed the Goldie's Act after a puppy that was ultimately euthanized due to its condition in the mill, the bill is bipartisan and co-sponsored by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and Susan Wild (D-PA).