Tennessee Protects our Pups
Yesterday was an exciting and victorious day for animal rights activists and dog lovers in Tennessee and throughout the nation. Governor Phil Bredesen signed HB 386/SB 258, the Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act (also known as the Puppy Mill Bill). Originally passed on June 18, the bill will go into effect on January 10, 2010. Adrian was kindly invited to attend the signing.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers. Most of the puppies are funneled into commercial pet stores, sold on the internet and paper classifieds, or at the mill itself. The conditions are horrible including overbreeding, crowding, malnutrition, unsanitary cages, and even killing of unwanted animals.
This is a very important step for Tennessee, which is home to several puppy mills in which dogs live in awful conditions. Last year, authorities shut down a puppy mill in Hickman County rescuing 747 dogs–this was the largest rescue in Tennessee. The reality of raids gets complicated. Because of the horrendously inhumane conditions the dogs are subjected to, many of them are unadoptable either due to disease and/or temperament issues. In many cases, a high percentage have to be euthanized. And those that are adoptable enter social rehabilitation because of isolation from human contact. Under the bill, breeding operations with more than 20 female dogs or cats must obtain a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture and must also meet certain requirements including an inspection of the premises, valid sales tax registration, exercise and nutrition requirements for the dogs and a clean criminal record, among others. Although the bill does not make puppy mills illegal, it is a big step toward shutting them down and provides the grounds for prosecution. All of this is a victory for the animals as nothing was in place prior to the bill. A special thanks to Senator Doug Jackson, Representative Janis Sontany and District Attorney Kim Helper for pushing this bill through.
The photo below is the actual signing of the bill. Governor Bredesen was kind enough to have the assistance of this Girl Scout Troop with the signing as they were a part of the lobbying of the bill.
For additional information, please visit the The Human Society of the United States (HSUS) where you can learn how to avoid buying a puppy mill dog, take the pledge to stop puppy mills, and learn more about HSUS projects.
Congrats to Tennessee and let’s keep on fighting for animal rights!
Dog Photographer – Nashville, TN
Adrian Hitt Photography