Sep
16
2009

The legislative session is over, but a special committee has been formed in Iowa to discuss the fate of commercial breeders in that state.

No action was taken on House File 486, Iowa’s version of the “puppy mill bill,” during the regular session. But a committee was formed and will meet near the end of September to study the matter further, according to state Rep. Jim Lykam, who supported the bill. The act would have given inspectors from the Iowa Department of Agriculture the right to inspect federally licensed breeding facilities where animals are suspected of being abused. Under the current law, only federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors can enter such facilities.

Speaker of the Iowa House Rep. Pat Murphy formed the Care of Animals in Commercial Enterprises Study Committee to further review the issue, Lykam said. The meeting, scheduled for Sept. 29, will bring together representatives of various groups, including Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, the Humane Society of the United States, the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Iowa Pet Breeders Association.

Advocates of changing the law say that the USDA does not have enough personnel to adequately inspect facilities in Iowa, while opponents say the excess regulation could add a burden to the state agriculture department.

The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) has remained neutral on the measure so far, according to IVMA Executive Director Tom Johnson, DVM.

“The IVMA official position is neutral on the proposed changes to allow state inspectors to inspect federally licensed kennels,” Johnson said. “We do not support or oppose the changes at this time.”

Johnson said the IVMA legislative committee and executive board will evaluate a revised bill when it is available. Johnson also said he has been invited to speak at the Sept. 29 meeting, but he did not specify what he would say.

Lykam said that he plans to re-introduce puppy mill legislation in the next legislative session, which begins in January.

“We will hear from both sides and after the testimony will decide a course of action,” Lykam said.

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