A puppy mill bill, SB 5651, in the Washington state legislature is now law.
The final version limited to 50 the number of breeding dogs over the age of 6 months that anyone can own, control, have charge ofÂ or possess at any one time. The original version would have limited the number to 25.Â
The sponsors of the bill, HB 1936/SB 5651,Â included an unusual introduction, stating:
"Dogs are neither a commercial crop nor commodity and should not be indiscriminately or irresponsibly mass produced.
"Commercial dog breeding increases the likelihood that the dogs will be denied their most basic needs including but not limited to: Sanitary living conditions, proper and timely medical care, the ability to move freely at least once per day, and adequate shelter from the elements
"Without proper oversight, puppy mills can easily fall below even the most basic standards of humane housing and husbandry.
"Current Washington state laws are inadequate regarding the care and husbandry of dogs in puppy mills….No Washington state agency currently regulates puppy mills… The United States department of agriculture does not regulate puppy mills that sell dogs directly to the public and thus, such direct-sales breeders are currently exempt from even the minimum care and housing standards outlined in the federal animal welfare act.
"Documented conditions at large-scale puppy mills include unsanitary conditions, potential for soil and groundwater contamination, the spread of zoonotic parasites and infectious diseases, and the sale of sick and dying animals to the public; and [a]n unfair fiscal burden is placed on city, county, and state taxpayers as well as government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, who are required to care for discarded or abused and neglected dogs from puppy mills."
"An unfair fiscal burden is placed on city, county, and state taxpayers as well as government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, which are required to care for discarded or abused and neglected dogs from large-scale breeding facilities."
Â Â Â Â Â Space
The regulations would require Â persons with more than 10 intact dogs to provide "space to allow each dog to turn about freely, to stand, sit, and lie down", fully extended without touching any side of an enclosure or any other dog in the cage when they are lying down together. Â
Each enclosure must be at least three times the length of the longest dog in the enclosure, from tip of nose to base of tail, and 6 inches higher than the tallest dog.Â
Not really too much to ask.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Exercise
Unless a veterinarian certifies the dog cannot exercise, the bill would require each dog over 4 months of ageÂ to have a minimum of one hour of exercise each day. The exercise must include removing the dog from his cage and either walking or "giving the dog access to an enclosure at least four times the size of the primary enclosure allowing the dog free mobility for the entire exercise period, but may not include use of a treadmill, cat mill, jenny mill, slat mill, or similar device, unless prescribed by a doctor of veterinary medicine." Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Veterinary Care
The dogs would be required to have "veterinary care without delay when necessary". Â Breeding dogs would be required to be examined once each year by a veterinarian, and they could only be bred one time each year between the ages of 18 months and 8 years. The dogs could not be bred if a veterinarian determines they are unfit.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Under the original billÂ some of the worst puppy mill abuses would have beenÂ banned: Ear cropping, tail docking, debarking, and surgical births are prohibited except under anesthesia and by a licensed veterinarian. None of these prohibitions survived.
Under the new law Animals requiring euthanasia must be euthanized only by a licensed veterinarian.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Other requirements
There are also requirements for "easy and convenient access to adequate amounts of clean food and water" that is not frozen, clean, sanitized food and water receptacles, daily cleaning, sanitation, protection from disease, infestation and pests, removing dogs from kennels or cages during cleaning, sufficient ventilation, a working smoke alarm, a means of fire suppression, and sufficient lighting.
The housing would be required to have "sufficient shade" and otherwise protect the dogs from "extreme temperatures and weather conditions" that may be "uncomfortable or hazardous to the dogs."
Cages could not be stacked and can be no more than 42 inches off the ground.
Flooring would be required to be "constructed in a manner that protects the dogs’ feet and legs from injury."
The new law would detail requirements for placing dogs together in the cages: Â "All dogs housed in the same enclosure must be compatible…. Animals with a vicious or aggressive disposition must be housed individually. Breeding females in heat may not be housed in the same enclosure with sexually mature males, except for breeding. Breeding females with litters may not be housed in the same enclosure with other adult dogs. Puppies under twelve weeks may not be housed in the same enclosure with other adult dogs, other than the dam or foster dam."
A person who violated this section would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
The new law would not apply to animal control shelters, non-profit animal welfare organizations, pet stores, boarding or grooming facilities and veterinarians’ facilities.