Iowa’s Gov Signs Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill

puppy mill

Update Mar. 9, 2010: It’s now official! Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has signed H.F. 2280 into law. A rare champagne moment for the animals, one rescuer described.

For more on this new law, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update Feb. 23, 2010: In less than a month from the time H.F. 2280 was introduced, it has passed both the Iowa House of Representatives and the state senate. The votes were overwhelmingly in favor of the bill with a vote less than a week ago of 77-22 by the House and yesterday of 41-9 by the Senate.   

It’s on to Iowa Gov. Chet Culver for signature!

For details about this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: The bill, H.F.2280, provides that a commercial breeder, dealer, and public auction for dogs and cats must obtain a permit instead of the certificate of registration required under current law. The breeder, dealer or auctioneer would be required to have a permit for each facility.

No commercial breeder, dealer or auctioneer could acquire dogs or cats from other breeders, dealers, auctions or kennels that are not properly authorized under state law.

This bill  will mean commercial breeders, dealers and auctions that have USDA licenses, are also subject to inspections and other regulation by the state Dept. of Agriculture. A commercial breeder is anyone who has more than 3 breeding dogs or cats and is in the business of breeding them for sale, lease or exchange. 

Under current Iowa law, though licensed, they are exempt from the inspections and other requirements that apply to non-USDA licensed commercial kennels, breeders, dealers and auctions.  Iowa Code §162.11, §§162.1 et seq and 21 IAC 67.1(162) et seq. The state can, however, under current law, deny registration or revoke it if the breeder, dealer or auction does not meet department standards.

USDA regulation and oversight is simply not enough. There are only a handful of USDA inspectors to handle the tens of thousands of businesses that fall under their regulation. State regulation can help. The more enforcement authority available, the better. The dogs need as many people watching out for them as possible. Iowa has more than 400 USDA commercial breeding kennels.

Minimum standards of care

The bill would also set standards of care for animal shelters, boarding kennels, commercial breeders, commercial kennels, dealers, pet shops, pounds, public auctions, or research facilities. The minimum standards basically include "[a]dequate feed, adequate water, housing facilities, sanitary control, or grooming practices, if such lack causes adverse health or suffering" and veterinary care. 


The department of agriculture would issue regulations to implement these standards which could vary depending on whether the facility is a licensee such as a research facility, a permittee like a commercial breeder or registrant such as an animal shelter. Compliance would be monitored by inspections, but to enter a commercial breeder or dealer’s facility, the department must have reasonable cause supported by an oral or written complaint or a report filed by the United States department of agriculture.  Enforcement would be basically complaint-driven, and the inspection results as well as the complaint would, with few exceptions, be kept confidential. 

While violations can be a misdemeanor and permits can be suspended or revoked, civil fines are generally limited to $500 for the first day of a violation of housing standards unless the breeder fails to comply after a corrective plan is put in place. Other violations can mean fines of $500 per day. Failure to obtain a proper permit means only a $1,000 fine. There is an emphasis on providing violators with continuing education and corrective plans.

Another bill, SSB 3126, would have authorized the state Dept. of Agriculture to issue standards and otherwise regulate commercial breeders, dealers, and auctions. The bill would exempt dogs raised for racing pari-mutuel racing from paying  registration fees and provide funds for an additional enforcement officer.

H.F. 2280 also replaces HSB 604.

One thought on “Iowa’s Gov Signs Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill”

  1. Thanks for the good news, and for mentioning kitten mills. I love dogs and cats, but for some reason we never hear about kitty mills. I’m sure they exist.
    It will be a great day when we just stop purchasing cats and dogs from puppy mills, backyard breeders, pet stores, and other forms of puppy mills. If you want a dog or cat, go to a local shelter. If you want a specific breed, go to a rescue club. If you go the breeder route, inspect the premises. Ask to see the dog or cat’s parents. Really take a good look around.

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