Puppy Mill Bill Turned Down By Committee

Tuesday, February 19th 2008, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6

Lawmakers put a leash on a puppy mill crackdown.  The bill died in an Oklahoma Senate committee.  News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports on the fallout.

The bill's supporters are now asking for a public outcry to get something done next year.  They say it's not just about the animals, it's about Oklahomans.

Take Milton, for example, a boxer puppy rescued from a breeder who said they didn't want him because no one would buy him.  Milton suffered a skull fracture when he was a newborn, and now has neurological damage.  His rescuer says the injuries are a direct result of his breeders' negligence.

"He bobbles his head. He loses control of his neck," said Robin Wood with Tulsa Boxer Rescue.

But, Milton still has his looks.  That makes him lucky compared to his friend Roxy. Roxy was abandoned because of her severe case of mange which was passed down from her mother.

"From her mother, at the breeder. That dog should not be being bred," said Robin Wood.

Milton and Roxy are just two of the hundreds of dogs Tulsa Boxer Rescue has to find homes for each year.

"If Oklahoma had regulated breeding like the majority of the other states, we wouldn't be seeing this. The money wouldn't be coming out of my pocket and your pocket and all of the donors' pockets. We wouldn't be standing here now because those breeders would be following up on their puppies and taking responsibility for what they're putting out there," said Robin Wood of Tulsa Boxer Rescue.

"I just find it astounding and I find it tragic," said Ruth Steinberger of Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.

Steinberger helped write the puppy mill bill which would have mandated minimal USDA standards on breeders who sell more than 25 dogs or cats a year.

"This was a very basic animal welfare bill. It was also a consumer protection bill that would have addressed some of the horrible situations that Oklahoma is becoming known for," said Ruth Steinberger.

For example the bill would've imposed USDA standards for dog's pins.  That means breeders would be required to keep dogs in cages that were measured by taking the dogs length, from its nose to the base of its tail and adding 6 inches. Double that, and that's how long their cage would have to be, and they could be kept there for life.

"And the folks who opposed this bill think that's just too much to give a dog," said Ruth Steinberger.

Unthinkably cruel to animal lovers, but to some puppy mill owners, give them an inch and they'll take a mile.

"We have no health standards. We have no facility standards. We have no bottom line here. So, it's do whatever you want and it is buyer beware," said Ruth Steinberger of Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.

Some legislators were opposed to the bill because they feared it would cause a ripple effect in animal rights groups that could spread to farm animals.

Other opponents said the bill would not stop substandard kennels and internet sales of sick puppies.  They also said it would also penalize the people who are responsible breeders.