I just read about a piece of legislation passed by the Washington legislature, designed to stop a rising puppy mill problem in the state. The fact that I didn't hear about this until after its passage is a bit surprising, as I am supposedly signed up to receive email alerts on pending legislation related to animal issues. Guess that system isn't working.
In any event, we had several rather horrible seizures of dogs in Washington last year. One may ultimately result in the closure of the King County Animal Shelter, as trying to deal with the dogs, even with the support rescue groups, exhausted their funding. One bust found bodies of puppies in a freezer and dead dogs in a garbage bin. The surviving dogs were matted, in bad health, and of course unsocialized, and numbered about 160. This was only one of several puppy mills uncovered in the past year.
So the legislation, which took effect on New Year's Day, now makes it illegal to own or have in your custody more than 50 dogs capable of breeding and over the age of six months. Retail pet stores, veterinary facilities, and boarding facilities are exempt. The law also specifies requirements of caring for the dogs, including the size, temperature, and cleanliness of their cages. For anyone with more than 10 dogs, the law requires "adequate time and space to exercise." (I haven't seen a copy of the actual law, so am only going on what was reported.)
I haven't talked to any of my acquaintances in the world of purebred dogs and showing to get their take on this. They are usually staunchly opposed to any efforts to limit the ownership and breeding of dogs. But this seems totally reasonable to me. How can you effectively care for more than 50 dogs? I was stretched to the limit taking care of four, and have since cut back to two. True, I don't employ kennel staff, but neither do a lot of breeders, and even if you did, how many would you need to care for more than 50 dogs?
I need to get my hands on a copy of the actual legislation, but from what I've heard so far, this seems an eminently fair attempt to prevent more puppy mills from springing up in my state. I just hope there are some enforcement "teeth" included in the legislation.
And just so that the puppy millers can't simply flee across state lines, Oregon initiated similar legislation on the same day.