Our Testimonies

Below we have included some of our testimonies from our work lobbying for the passage of ESSB 5651.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce & Consumer Protection February 9th, 2009.

My name is Audrey and I am here to testify for Senate Bill 5651, providing humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices. This bill would enact many new requirements for breeders that own 10 or more breeding dogs. These new requirements would greatly improve the horrific life that many puppy mill dogs live. Currently there are no laws regulating commercial breeding facilities in Washington State. If not closely monitored, these facilities can easily turn into puppy mills. I became very sad after hearing about the recent puppy mill raids in Snohomish and Skagit counties. How could the conditions at these cruel places become so bad in the first place? Why weren’t these facilities inspected more often? With a simple law like Senate Bill 5651, all of this could have been prevented.

Perhaps one of the most important things Senate Bill 5651 does is draw a boundary between a commercial breeder and a reputable breeder. Any person that owns more than 10 breeding dogs is a commercial breeder, according to Senate Bill 5651. And if you are a commercial breeder, there are certain standards you must follow. The bill starts by stating that no breeding facility should own more than 25 breeding dogs. I think that is an excellent law. With 25 breeding dogs, a breeder can surely make a profit if the average litter contains 8 puppies. And 25 dogs is a lot more humane to the animals, assuring that the facility does not become over crowded.

Next Senate Bill 5651 states some basic care standards for dogs. These include cage space, sanitary food and water access, exercise, veterinary care, and standards for shelter. By doing this, the bill is assuring that all dogs are being well looked after, and are leading a healthy life. This part of the bill is very important, as it is addressing the conditions at the facility itself. The bill is also making it easier for inspectors to decide wither a facility is humane or not.

Senate Bill 5651 also sets standards for breeding. Only dogs between the ages of eighteen months and eight years of age may be used for breeding, and female dogs can only be bred once a year. This helps guarantee healthier puppies, and safer conditions for the breeding dogs.
The financial impact of this bill is minimal. Not only would this bill help stop the endless flow of abused puppy mill dogs flowing into shelters and humane societies, it would take away the cost of caring for these discarded animals from the government. Inspections would be done by a public health or animal control officer, and would not put any financial strain on these agencies, as the cost to inspect such a facility is minimal.

The intention of the bill is NOT to put pet shops out of business. The bill simply would increase the welfare of animals at these facilities, thus increasing the quality of dogs at the pet shops. If any financial affect is noticed at a pet shop, it would only be an increase in profit and trust with customers. Most people do not want to buy a sick dog. If they bought a sick or dying dog from a pet shop they would likely not ever return to it. Senate Bill 5651 would assure that these animals are healthy, and cause the customers to return, increasing business and profit.

A law like this has been needed for a long time. Please consider voting for this bill, as it only will do good in the community. Puppy mills are a type of cruelty that must be stopped. Now is the chance to end them in Washington. Thank you for your time.

My name is Theresa and I’m from Seattle, Washington. I would like to profess my strong support of Senate Bill 5651, providing humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices. I think that this bill is a big step for our state in the area of animal welfare and I believe that as a law it will greatly reduce the horrific cases of cruelty and neglect such as those of the recently exposed puppy mills of Skagit and Snohomish Counties. A large improvement from last year’s Senate Bill 6408, a “lemon law” protecting consumers who unknowingly purchased a sick animal from a pet shop or breeder, Senate Bill 5651 instead addresses the more pressing concern of the actual breeding operation. I’d like to make a few main points on behalf of this legislation:

First, I believe that any more than 25 unaltered dogs and their puppies is too much for any responsible breeder to handle at one time by providing individualized attention to the nutritional, social, and medical needs of each and every animal on the premises. Senate Bill 5651 mandates that a breeder may not possess more than 25 intact dogs of over 4 months of age. If the owner is in possession of more than 10 breeding animals, they must conform to the basic care requirements expressed in the text of the bill. When enforced, this will ensure that breeding operations, even those founded upon good intentions, do not become out of control or unsatisfactory in the concern of the affected animals’ health, comfort or safety.

The expected enforcement of this law should not and will not in any way violate the privacy of any commercial breeding business. If a facility is operating in accordance with the standards of this law, there is no reason why a breeder should not allow, or even welcome, a scheduled inspection. Any honest breeder or dealer should allow their customers to see exactly where their pet is coming from, and I think the same goes for any official that has come to check on the legitimacy of the company’s practices.

Additionally, any conscientious breeder should already be taking measures to ensure the most humane breeding operation possible. If they are not already conforming to basic standards such as those of Senate Bill 5651, I am sure that any breeder who does their work in the best interest of their animals will be willing to take the steps necessary to improve their practices in order to meet the requirements of this law.

Senate Bill 5651 is a promising leap in the realms of humane legislation in our state. It will require extensive education, funding, and enforcement. I am excited to work with both the legislators and breeders alike of Washington State in developing humane new requirements for animal care in the local breeding industry, and I believe that Senate Bill 5651 is moving us in the right direction. Thank you all very much for your time.

Testifying before the the House Committee on Judiciary March 19, 2009.

Good morning Madame Chair, members of the committee. My name is Audrey, and I am testifying in support of ESSB 5651. This legislation would help keep our animals safe. Currently there are no laws regulating breeding facilities of any type in Washington State. The effect of this can be seen in the recent Skagit and Snohomish county puppy mill raids. Not all commercial breeding facilities are puppy mills. However, a few commercial breeding facilities operate purely for profit, with no regard to the animals. Imposing regulations on all facilities will ensure that the “puppy mills” not be allowed to operate, while all other commercial breeding facilities can.

One important requirement that ESSB 5651 places on commercial breeding facilities is the requirement of veterinary care. It is recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association that all dogs visit a veterinarian at least once a year for vaccinations and a routine checkup. If a person plans on breeding a dog, it is even more important that this dog have periodic checkups, aiding in the healthy development of her puppies. If denied veterinary care, chronic and treatable diseases may go undetected for years, and a dog may develop parasites or other awful conditions which easily could have been prevented with a vaccination. What sets legal and humane commercial breeding facilities apart from puppy mills is the fact that the dogs are healthy and well care ford. If a breeder is truly concerned about the wellbeing of their animals, they would already be taking their dogs to the vet as often as necessary.

Simply search puppy mills on the internet and you will find a hoard of heartbreaking pictures. The thing that stands out most in these heartbreakers is often the housing facility. You see multiple dogs in tiny cages, stacked up to seven high. The dogs are covered in feces, falling from the cages above them, and struggling to stand on the thin wire that is supposed to support often more than three dogs. Housing facility regulations are needed. And ESSB 5651 provides them. It is important to the development of a dog that it is able to move freely about in a clean, comfortable place. To most people a kennel does not appear comfortable, but the regulations the ESSB 5651 imposes assure moderate comfort, all well remaining in reasonable expectations of a responsible breeder.

A law like ESSB 5651 has been needed for a long time. This is not a matter concerning the outlawing of all commercial breeding facilities. This is a bill aimed to protect the animals inside, and shut down puppy mills. Besides, a responsible breeder would already be caring for their dogs properly. This is your chance to save lives. Please, don’t give it up.
Thank you for your time.

My name is Theresa and I’m from Seattle, Washington. Thank you for this opportunity to speak for those who do not have a voice in the legislature, for the animals sick and dying as prisoners of greed in the puppy mills of Washington State. I would like to profess my strong support of Senate Bill 5651, providing humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices. I think that this bill is a big step for our state in the area of animal welfare and I believe that as a law it will greatly reduce the horrific cases of cruelty and neglect such as those of the recently exposed puppy mills of Skagit and Snohomish Counties. I would like to make a few points on behalf of this legislation:

One argument on the Senate floor was that it is unreasonable to require the ambient temperature inside facilities to remain from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this requirement is there for the sake of the animals’ health and safety. Even though not all homes in Washington may have air conditioning, controlled temperatures are necessary for these places because while humans can tolerate them, dogs, especially those that are pregnant, very young or have thick fur, that are exposed to extreme temperatures are at serious risk for heat exhaustion, dehydration and/or hypothermia. Also, many of the dogs produced in breeding facilities are designer dogs, which include popular breeds such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs and Boston terriers. These dogs are all brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds whose facial structure make panting and respiratory functions harder, making them more susceptible to heat exhaustion and fatigue in overheated breeding facilities, especially those outdoors or in Eastern Washington.

Also, the requirement for proper fire safety, including a working smoke alarm and adequate fire suppression aids, is critical for the safety of both the people and animals involved in the breeding operation so that the facility is equipped in the case of an emergency.

I know that there are some excellent breeders in Washington State, animal lovers who are responsible in breeding and caring for their dogs in a safe, sanitary and humane manner, and I applaud these breeders. Clearly if they were a responsible breeder they should already be exceeding these standards, which are intended to ensure that breeding facilities never become horrible puppy mills, and if they are not, I am sure that any breeder who does their work in the best interest of their animals will be willing to take the steps necessary to improve their practices in order to meet the requirements of this law.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5651 is a promising leap in the realms of humane legislation in our state. It will require extensive education, funding, and enforcement. I am excited to work with both the legislators and breeders alike of Washington State in developing humane new requirements for animal care in the local breeding industry, and I believe that this bill is a step in the right direction. Thank you all very much for your time.

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