According to a recent news article, Alabama state Sen. Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer, will be introducing legislation to increase regulations on dog breeders in early 2017. The legislation has been drafted by an Alabama animal rights group called the Alabama Puppy Mill Project. It would duplicate inspections and licensing already carried out by the USDA for dog breeders and require the state to set up a separate regulatory commission. And it won’t be cheap.
Estimated costs for the program to the state have not been provided yet. Similar programs in Texas and Tennessee have cost over $500,000 and $300,000 annually, respectively. The Tennessee program was dropped after several years because of its high costs which were not being recouped by breeder fees. The Texas program is not even close to breaking even.
The anticipated bill would create the Alabama Dog and Cat Breeders Commission with paid commissioners. According to the proposed bill, the commission would establish the fees needed to administer and enforce the program. Along with administrative functions, the commission would have authority to have criminal background checks performed on breeders and contract with third parties to act as inspectors. Third party inspectors are often problematic since they may be people or groups that embrace an animal rights ideology which means they are biased against dog breeders.
Any breeder with 11 or more adult intact female dogs or who sells 20 or more animals in a calendar year would fall under the terms of the bill.
The State Treasury would also have an Alabama Dog and Cat Breeders Commission Fund. Along with compensating the commissioners and paying their expenses, the funds in this account could be used for promoting the program and for paying for bounties on dog breeders. This has been done in Texas with $1000 “Breeder Bounties.” Animal rights vigilantes have harassed breeders and reported people to the state licensing commission – many times without reason – to try to collect these bounties. The commission may also solicit and accept gifts which raises more ethical issues. Why do commissioners on a dog and cat breeder commission need to solicit and accept gifts?
The commission or the third party inspector may determine if it is appropriate or not to provide advance notice to the breeder before they arrive for inspection. If the breeder is not at home for the inspection, it’s considered a violation and they can be fined. Breeders would have to go through a lengthy application, pre-license, and license approval process – paying fees at each step. If their application is denied at any point, they would have to start over, paying more fees to try to win approval for their license. The entire approval process is rigged against the breeder and designed to gouge money for the program. Theoretically, the inspectors and commission could deny a breeder’s applications indefinitely and continue to take in application fees, making the breeder start over.
Alabama currently only has 12 USDA-licensed and inspected breeders. Yet animal activists continue to claim that there are hundreds of so-called “puppy mills” in Alabama. These fictions have been proven false in other states. In 2009, the Humane Society of the United States claimed there were some 1500 “puppy mills” in Tennessee. HSUS declared that 500 breeders could be licensed and wrote a commercial breeder law for the state based on that figure. The state’s commercial dog breeder program was supposed to be “self-funding” with fees from breeders. It ended up losing $300,000 per year and the state dropped it. Only 21 breeders joined the program and no department in the state government wanted to handle it.
The same thing has been found to be true in other states where animal activists have grossly inflated the estimated number of large-scale breeders, i.e. “puppy mills,” in order to get commercial breeder bills passed – there are nowhere near as many breeders as animal activists claim once the laws are passed and the states start looking for these alleged “puppy mills.” Check out information for the following states:
Even if we allow for some breeders flying under the radar or simply not knowing that they were supposed to be licensed by the state, it seems obvious that animal rights activists have grossly inflated their estimates about the number of large-scale (“puppy mill”) breeders. Many of these states are reporting the same problems that Tennessee had with the commercial breeder program – promised to be self-funding based on fees and fines from the huge numbers of state-licensed breeders, the programs are in the red.
In Texas the state’s commercial breeder bill, HB1451 (passed in 2011, went into effect in September 2012) was promised to the Texas legislature to be revenue neutral. While the bill originally estimated 1000 breeders in the state, it would take a minimum of 600 kennels to be licensed at a cost of $565,000 annually to support the program. After two years, the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation has only licensed around 150-160 kennels or one-fourth of what is needed for the program to be revenue neutral. This means that tax payers are paying for a program that is not working, based on the projections made by animal rights activists.
The Alabama dog breeder bill is full of regulations, red tape, shaky numbers, costs that can’t be recouped, and some serious ethical questions about the proposed commission. Alabama should stop and think before it buys into this bill, especially considering the fact that dog breeders are already licensed and inspected by the federal government with USDA.
Carlotta Cooper is vice president of Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners Voting Alliance and contributing writer for The Cavalry Group.