Editorial: Pro-puppy mill bill demands Holcomb’s veto


The (Columbus) Republic

The Republic recently editorialized against a bill that is now headed to the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb. House Bill 1412 would use the power of the state to void lawfully adopted ordinances regulating the sale of dogs, and in some cases other animals, at pet stores in Columbus and about 20 other Indiana cities and towns.

We agreed with Columbus City Councilman Tom Dell, who testified that the bill is an unwarranted attack on local government. Columbus and other cities passed these measures in response to animal shelter overcrowding, puppy mills and other local concerns.

Yet it turns out that House Bill 1412 is even worse than we understood. In addition to being an assault on local government, it is a pro-puppy-mill bill. That’s what the Humane Society of the United States calls it, and they’re right.

After taking a closer look at this bill through the concerns raised by the Humane Society, our eyes have been opened. It’s clear that lawmakers who support this bill favor puppy mills more than they favor local efforts to deal with the consequences of them.

As the Humane Society said in a statement to The Republic, House Bill 1412 “will force localities across Indiana to allow pet stores to sell puppies from puppy mills. In a massive overreach, this measure will also void ordinances in 21 localities including Columbus that have said ‘no’ to puppy mills and currently restrict such sales in local pet stores.”

And indeed, a closer reading of the bill validates the Humane Society’s concerns. In fact, the bill not only voids the considered ordinances passed in Columbus and elsewhere, it turns them on their heads. This bill actually would introduce into state new law language that says pet stores “shall only sell dogs acquired from the following sources: … A commercial dog breeder (or) … A commercial dog broker …”

The law defines a commercial dog breeder as someone with more than 20 “unaltered female dogs that are at least 12 months of age”. It defines a “dog broker” as someone who sells at least 500 dogs a year.

To communities such as Columbus, which passed a local law limiting pet store sales to rescue animals, this bill is a slap in the face. This is worse than an abuse of power, as we called this assault on local government in our prior editorial. This is facilitating and institutionalizing the very things that local governments have sought to curb: puppy mills.

How can the majority of our lawmakers be OK with this?

The Humane Society says that if this bill becomes law, it “will create an even larger burden for communities that are already struggling with crisis-level pet overpopulation and overcrowded animal shelters. Forcing communities to serve as a sales outlet for puppy mills will further exacerbate the existing capacity crisis. Dozens of local animal services agencies have voiced their concerns about the harmful impact of this bill.”

We call on Gov. Holcomb to listen to the Humane Society and the local people who are dealing with these issues every day. Please, Gov. Holcomb, veto this bill with a strong message in support of local control, and a clear veto statement rejecting the awful appearance that Indiana is a welcoming state for puppy mills.

The (Columbus) Republic is a sister newspaper to the Daily Reporter.