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Michigan Representatives and Senators Support Puppy Mills

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I am alarmed by State Representative Michele Hoitenga's complete disregard for dogs and cats. Three communities in Michigan and many more across the country have banned the sale of puppies from puppy mills. Puppy-mill lobbyists have been asking state legislatures to pass bills banning these local ordinances that protect dogs and consumers. HB 5916 and HB 5917, which Hoitenga voted for at the end of the last legislative session ending December 2018, were rammed through Michigan's lame-duck session and would have protected puppy mills and the pet stores that peddle them. They would have allowed large-scale breeding operations to continue to sell their sick puppies through pet stores. They would have nullified local ordinances on the sale of puppies from puppy mills. Citizens would not be able to address local issues about puppy-selling pet stores with their local elected officials.

The provisions in these bills that supposedly protect puppies and consumers rest upon the USDA's minimum animal-welfare requirements. Enforcement of the provisions depends upon having access to USDA breeder inspection reports. The USDA removed this information from public view, rendering the supposed animal-protection provisions in HB 5916-17 useless. The USDA's animal-welfare standards for puppy mills are shockingly low and allow for deplorable conditions. In fact, the USDA allows for the confinement of hundreds dogs in cages only 6 inches larger than themselves for their entire lives and allows for no regular veterinary care.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture stopped inspecting pet stores years ago. Now, the legislature is trying to further weaken protections for consumers and companion animals. Although Hoitenga was a disappointment, I am glad then-Governor Snyder vetoed the bills during his final days in office.

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William holds a BBA from Western Michigan University and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.

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