[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6Rwhzi6xgY[/youtube]Key legislators in the Iowa House and Senate today released legislation designed to better protect pets and pet owners from irresponsible pet breeders. A key provision will increase the number of state inspectors to respond to animal health and safety complaints involving USDA licensed facilities.

“This bill is compromise, but it is a good one,” said Lykam. “I’m hopeful that the 2010 session will mark the end of Iowa’s reputation for lax enforcement of pet breeding operations. We are on track to crack down on the bad actors in this industry and protect responsible breeders by making consumers can be confident that all companion animals raised in Iowa are healthy and safe.”

“The head of USDA’s inspectors told me last week that he didn’t have enough inspectors to get the job done,” said Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines. “We will solve that problem by modestly and responsibly raising fees on pet breeders-currently just $20 a year-to fund state inspectors from the Iowa Department of Agriculture. They will respond to complaints of animal mistreatment. If complaints are confirmed, the state can impose fines, require continuing education and, in the worse cases, remove animals from a facility.”

“Iowa currently just isn’t doing enough to protect the more than 20,000 dogs in Iowa’s breeding operations,” said Senator Joe Seng, a Davenport veterinarian who also co-chaired legislative interim committee on the issue. “When your state is home to the third largest dog breeding industry in the nation, you have a responsibility to ensure basic health and safety standards.”

The legislation, House Study Bill 604, appears set to move forward quickly. A House subcommittee on the bill was scheduled for Monday afternoon and it could clear a House committee on Tuesday. Many of Iowa’s neighboring states already provide state inspection of USDA licensed breeders, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

Seng and Representative Jim Lykam of Davenport chaired a 10-member interim study committee of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. The committee unanimously recommended that state inspectors to begin inspecting federally licensed dog breeders in response to complaints.
The legislation will:
• Empower state agriculture inspectors to investigate complaints at Iowa’s federally licensed facilities.
• Increase penalties for unlicensed facilities and violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act
• Require continuing education for breeders with violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
• Require veterinarians to become mandatory reporters of animal abuse and neglect.
• Increase enforcement of uncollected sales tax on the sale of dogs and cats.