Bills to better protect animals from cruelty, and to ensure dog breeders are licensed and regulated, need the vocal support of voters to their elected officials, says a group devoted to protecting companion animals.
Iowa Voters for Companion Animals seeks to end Iowa’s “puppy mill problem” and will hold a Lobby Day Feb. 20 to inspire support.
“(Our current representatives) not only have the power, but the opportunity, to support these bills in 2019,” says Haley Anderson, executive director of IVCA. “The best thing people can do is be aware, and educate people around them.”
Iowa has 290 “puppy mills,” according to Bailing Out Benji, which defines a puppy mill as “a breeding facility in which the profit is more important than the welfare of the dogs.”
“Think of it as a factory farm for puppies,” writes Bailing Out Benji. “The parents are bred every heat cycle until their bodies give out. They are forced to live in cramped cages their entire lives, their paws never touching the ground.
“These parent dogs are not always fed healthy food or clean water and they are very rarely (if ever) seen by a vet for illness or injury.”
Bailing Out Benji says Iowa and Missouri are the country’s worst states for puppy mills. The issue is why Iowa is ranked 48th out of 50 states in animal welfare by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Some legal changes have already taken effect nationwide that help protect animals, says the Animal Welfare Institute. These include:
• removal of the so-called “King Amendment” from the Farm Bill. The amendment, named after Iowa Congressman Steve King (R-Sioux City), would have prevented states from regulating the manufacture of animal products.
Animal welfare laws that would have been annulled by the King Amendment include laws to ban puppy mills, caged confinement, and horse and dog meat.
• The Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act helps victims of domestic abuse also protect their pets. It expands the definition of stalking to include fear of danger to pets, requires abusers who injure pets to pay for their medical care, and funds grants for survivors to help pay for pet boarding.
To support these efforts to protect companion animals, go to www.wp.iowavca.org. You can also go to www.bailingoutbenji.com to find a list of pet stores that sell puppies from commercial breeders, a list of commercial breeders’ violations, and other information about how to avoid puppy mills.
— Christine Hawes and Jackie Duden