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Bill targets puppy mills

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Recommendations and findings from a state task force on so-called puppy mills were submitted to the state Legislature’s Environment Committee for review recently, before the start of the 2014 session.

The recommendations include a $5 fee on each wholesale-level cat and dog sales that would go into a fund to protect the pets.

The Environment Committee will now decide if it will bring forward a bill to address the task force’s work.

The effort was spurred by proposed legislation last year by Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, which created a task force to study the importation of puppies from substandard commercial animal mills in Connecticut.

Kupchick, who served as co-chairwoman with Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk/Darien, on the task force panel, said the proposal represents a middle ground between the pet store industry and animal rights advocates, who had sought a complete ban on the sale of commercially bred animals.

Kupchick said, “Our task force listened to all the affected stakeholders and the public and put together a list of seven recommendations. The goal is about the health of the pets sold in Connecticut, ensuring families who buy a pet are protected and to hopefully have an impact on the breeding dogs that supply puppies to pet stores.”

The recommendations include:
• standardizing care applicable to in-state breeders of cats and dogs;
• creating parity between the animal importer statutes and pet shop statutes by establishing potential penalties for the violation of statutes and regulations and eliminating the role of the attorney general in collecting any such fines;
• clarifying the statutory provision requiring pet shop owners to only purchase animals from breeders licensed by the USDA;
• amending the “puppy lemon law” to require payment of veterinary services and medications for any cat or dog that becomes ill within 20 days of the sale or dies or is diagnosed with a congenital condition within six months of such sale;
• increasing certain fines applicable to the sale and importation of cats and dogs in the state;
• requiring new pet shops established in the state to only obtain their cats and dogs through the use of humane sourcing; and
• establishing a conveyance fee of not less than $5 on the sale of each cat or dog by any pet shop or animal importer and require the deposit of such funds into a trust fund for use by the Department of Agriculture to enhance inspections and oversight of pet shops and animal importers.

Besides Kupchick and Duff, task force members included Deb Bresch, senior state director ASPCA; Dr. Arnold Goldman, CT Veterinary Medical Association; state Sen. John McKinney R-Easton/Newtown; Amy Harrell, CT Votes for Animals; breeder Laurie Ann Maulucci; Rep. Auden Grogins, D-Bridgeport; a representative from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and Ray Conners of the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Division.

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