Florida and Georgia lawmakers make shameful attempts to protect puppy mills

By on February 22, 2018 with 10 Comments

Staff members of the HSUS puppy mills campaign frequently hear from individuals who have had bad experiences with dogs sourced from puppy mills. For example, they heard from a pet owner who had bought an English bulldog puppy from a pet store in Miami. The owner reported being told to return to the store a week later to pick up the puppy because he had a cold. A week after bringing him home, the puppy’s condition got worse and he had to be rushed to the pet clinic because he could barely breathe. The owners learned he had severe pneumonia and over the next few weeks, they incurred more than $5,000 in vet bills.

Another pet owner bought a puppy at a pet store in Largo, Florida, only to realize that the dog was extremely sick and had to be admitted to the hospital where he was fighting for his life.

Around the country, growing awareness about puppy mills and their terrible conditions, which often cause sickness in the animals, has led to more than 250 localities enacting laws banning the sales of puppy mill dogs and requiring pet stores to source animals from shelters or rescues only. Last year, the state of California enacted a law, and similar bills have recently been introduced in Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Illinois, and Nebraska. Major cities like Chicago, Boston, and Austin have also enacted these laws.

But lawmakers in two states – Florida and Georgia – are bucking that trend by taking up bills that would preempt local laws to protect puppy mill sales.

In Florida, there are nearly 60 local ordinances banning the sale of mill puppies, including in Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, while Georgia has eight localities with such ordinances. The bills include radical, overly broad language prohibiting local governments from regulating where pet stores source puppies. These pro-puppy mill bills are the result of pet store lobbyists going state-to-state, asking legislators to shield them from local control. Surely, a better option for these pet stores is to clean up their act, stop sourcing from cruel mills, and stop selling sick puppies so local governments won’t need to regulate them.

In Florida, lawmakers introduced an amendment to an unrelated tax bill (H.B. 7087) this week that would prevent local governments from prohibiting the sale of personal property subject to sales tax, which includes puppies. The amendment would prevent localities from banning the sale of mill puppies and void the nearly 60 existing ordinances in that state. This amendment would have far-reaching consequences well beyond pet store regulation.

In Georgia, bills recently introduced in both chambers (S.B. 418 & H.B. 948) would prevent local governments from restricting the sale of goods regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Beyond stripping localities of their right to prohibit puppy mill sales, this would prevent local regulation of thousands, possibly millions, of goods and products.

The dangerous bills in Florida and Georgia must be stopped. The HSUS is doing all that it can to stop them, but residents of these states must also speak up and demand that their elected state officials vote “no” on these bills. Lawmakers protecting the outdated, socially unacceptable, and destructive puppy-selling pet store industry at the expense of animal welfare should know their constituents disapprove.

If you live in Florida or Georgia, please call and email your state representative and senator and urge a “no” vote on Florida’s H.B. 7087 or Georgia’s S.B. 418 & H.B. 948. And no matter where you live, make sure your local, state, and federal lawmakers know you’d like to see an end to the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores.

P.S. Our Puppy Mills Campaign is working on a study that looks back on 10 years of sick puppy complaints received by The HSUS – more than 5,000 complaints. Florida tops that list for pet store puppy complaints, and for consumer complaints about sick puppies overall. We will bring you more on that study when it is complete.

Companion Animals, Humane Economy, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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    • Rosemary Borter says:

      Puppy Mills need to be out lawed. How about puppy mill owners go get a real job, instead of making money on the suffering of the mothers they breed over and over. Not to mention the lack of vet care many should but don’t get. And, lets not forget, we continue to KILL DOGS AND CATS IN OUR SHELTERS EVERY SINGLE DAY BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE A GOOD HOME TO GO TO. OUTLAW PUPPY MILLS AND MANDATE SPAY/NEUTER THROUGH OUT THE UNITED STATES! Our overpopulation gets worse every day we put money and profit over the lives of innocent animals! We need to know how our representatives vote, and if they vote for the suffering, then we need to vote them out of office!

  2. Christine Purbaugh says:

    I am shocked that there are so many people dumb enough to buy an animal from these places. It sad but I pray that there will be no more Puppy Mills in the USA and other countries.

  3. Charlotte Stewart says:

    No reason to buy a pet. There are millions up for adoption 😩

  4. Kate Mabry says:

    At minimum, we do not eat or domesticated cats and dogs in the United States as they do in Asian countries, i.e., China, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc.. However, some Native American tribes do so in our country as part of their heritage. It is appalling and time for change. Let’s boycott all goods from these countries and our own Native American tribes until this barbaric cruel practice ends.

  5. Winnie L Soukup says:

    Puppy mills are cruel and inhumane. All of them need to be shut down.

  6. JB Carr says:

    What else can one say except, sadly all that you say is correct. If only more people knew about and would face the horror consistently inflicted on non-human animals by human animals. We are a shameful species. Fortunately there are many decent compassionate humans who do care enough to fight for a more humane world for all living creatures.

  7. Doris Muller says:

    In My comment above I stated, “…not all elected individuals have the general public’s best interest at heart, and there are those who are very unethical, and possibly criminal minded. Many get elected to fight for the right for profiteers to profit regardless of consequences to victims.”

    Mercy for Animals is sponsoring a petition against an elected person who is the poster child for my comment. Please take a look:

    • Kathleen Rummel says:

      Doris, I hope people will go to the website you listed. I did, and when I saw it was Steve King, I just groaned. I had already signed it, but just seeing his name rips my heart. He is by far the most anti-animal, pro-cruelty legislator I have ever heard. So please folks, click on the website on Doris’ comment and sign. Do it for your dog or cat, do it for the wildlife. Do it for all suffering animals. This man must be removed from congress.

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