Washington State Enacts Limits on Breeding Dogs

Raided puppy millA 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 of or possess at any one time. The original version would have limited the number to 25. 

The sponsors of the bill, HB 1936/SB 5651, 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."

puppy mill dogRegulations


The regulations would require  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.  

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. 

Not really too much to ask.


Unless a veterinarian certifies the dog cannot exercise, the bill would require each dog over 4 months of age 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."  

        Veterinary Care

The dogs would be required to have "veterinary care without delay when necessary".  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.

        Under the original bill some of the worst puppy mill abuses would have been 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. 

          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.

Puppy millFlooring 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:  "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.


2 thoughts on “Washington State Enacts Limits on Breeding Dogs”

  1. Puppy mills should be outlawed period! there are too many dogs in shelters needing homes now and many get put down before homes can be found. Leave the breeding to professional breeders! This law protects no dogs. 5o dogs is rediculous! How can one person provide what is needed for 50 dogs! If they NEED to keep puppy mills at least keep the dogs they can have down to 25 or less! ANd who is going to go to these places to make sure that these ” limited” laws are being followed who is enforcing it!? NO ONE!
    and those that are caught breaking the law only get a gross misdemeanor? It should be a felony! Sounds like someone who has a puppy mill also has someone in the capital who is a friend.
    its an outrage!

  2. I fully agree with that statement! Leave the breeding to professional breeders!!! You should own more than four to five dogs at the most. Dogs need the special attention and love just as any human being. Would you like to live in a room full of mistreat and no attention and love? Then don’t do it to an animal. It crushes me to see this kind of stuff happen and they only make it better by allowing 50 dogs….are you people insane…how does someone take good care of 50 dogs? Puppy mills need to be stopped!!! Its not far to animals to be treated this way!

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