Bills regulating so-called “puppy mills” that have angered animal rights activists cleared the Michigan Senate tonight and await action by Gov. Rick Snyder.
House Bill 5916 and House Bill 5917, both sponsored by Rep. Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), would “act to regulate pet shops, animal control shelters, and animal protection shelters” and seeks to “establish uniform procedures and minimum requirements for adoption of dogs, cats, and ferrets,” while establishing civil fines and penalties for violations. The legislation also bans local municipalities from enacting their own ban on pet stores.
Animal rights activists fear that the legislation would make it more difficult for local units of government to successfully regulate and potentially keep out puppy mills, which many view as breeders that raise dogs in “inhumane” conditions.
“The bills would protect the cruel pet breeding industry and strip local governments of the ability to regulate the retail sale of puppies in their communities,” the group Puppy Mill Awareness posted on its Facebook page on Thursday.
The bills passed by mostly party-line 23-14 votes tonight.
The Humane Society of the United States came out against the legislation and “urges consumers never to buy a puppy from a pet store because many are unhealthy and most of them come from inhumane dealers known as puppy mills,” John Goodwin, senior director of Stop Puppy Mills Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States,” said in a statement.
“Responsible breeders don’t sell to pet stores, because they want to meet the families who are taking home their puppies,” added Goodwin.
Vaupel, a former veterinarian, contends that the bills strengthen protections for animals by mandating microchipping and banning puppy mills outright, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Animal rights activists, however, tend to believe that rather than buying pets from pet stores, consumers should look to adopt pets from shelters, which wind up killing an estimated 1.5 million dogs and cats each year, according to Best Friends Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter based in Utah. The group lists well over 100 municipalities in North America that have placed outright bans on retail pet stores, including a couple Michigan cities.
The issue of animal rights and a municipality’s ability to control whether a dog boutique could open was front and center last year in West Michigan, when two malls in Grand Rapids and Muskegon cancelled leases with one such store. Ultimately the store opened in Grandville, outside Grand Rapids, after the city decided it met basic zoning and other criteria, according to a report in MLive.
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