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New law puts bite into puppy mills

Indiana has had a reputation for being a breeding ground (pun completely intended) for puppy mills, where dogs are raised not as family pets, but as commodities. Until recent legislation ‘ authored by Rep. Linda Larson, D-Hammond ‘ was passed, Indiana had done little to nothing to discourage puppy breeders like Virginia and Kristin Garwood from setting up shop here.
Prior to HB 1468 being passed, there were no real teeth to puppy mill laws. The law will go into effect July 1.
While it’s not the be all, end all, of puppy mill legislation in Indiana, it’s definitely a start.
The proposal will toughen animal abuse laws and require commercial dog breeders to register with the state, which is a key component of the bill. In the past, there was no way to know where dog breeders ‘ legitimate and illegitimate ‘ were located.
The bill will require breeders to offer dogs daily exercise and set other minimum standards of care for the animals.
Commercial dog breeder regulations, which apply to those who have more than 20 unspayed female dogs, will require the breeder to pay an annual registration fee ranging from $75 if they have fewer than 50 unspayed adult female dogs to $500 if they have more than 250 female dogs able to be bred. Dog brokers who sell 500 or more dogs a year must also register and pay a $1,000 fee.
The fees will be used to pay for inspections and enforcement.
All commercial dog breeders must comply with USDA standards, and they may not house a dog in a cage containing a wire floor unless the cage contains an accommodation that allows the dog to be off the wire floor; or, if in a wire cage, the dog shall be in a cage that is large enough to allow for reasonable movement by the dog.
In the Garwoods’ case, some cages containing dogs were stacked on top of each other. As Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue said, the dogs on the top level were basically in a penthouse, while gravity caused those living on the bottom level to be in a literal outhouse.
It’s sickening, but, thankfully, the 240 dogs rescued last week will be placed in better homes.
If nothing else, the display of force at the Garwoods’ Breezy Valley Dairy Farm in Mauckport, combined with being forced to pay at least $135,000 in back taxes and attorney fees, should serve notice that the Indiana Attorney General’s office is serious about cracking down on puppy mills that break the law.