June 28, 2007
CONNECTICUT “PUPPY MILL” LAWS
By: Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst
You asked if state law prohibits “puppy mills” or importing puppies from out-of-state puppy mills.
“Puppy mill” is a common term for a breeding facility that produces puppies in large numbers. According to the Humane Society of the United States, an advocacy organization that seeks to shut them down, puppy mills are a concern because of the likelihood of overbreeding and inbreeding, lack of proper food, care, and shelter; overcrowded and unsanitary conditions; and the killing of unwanted animals.
Under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates wholesale animal dealers who breed animals for resale (e.g., to pet stores), but not breeders or pet stores that sell directly to the public. The AWA does not define “puppy mill.”
State law does not define “puppy mills”, nor directly address their regulation. However, several statutes regulate dog breeding and the sale and importation of puppies. Among other things, state law
1. requires the licensing of certain breeding kennels,
2. authorizes the agriculture commissioner to inspect kennels and order the correction of unsanitary and other unsatisfactory conditions,
3. imposes fines and prison terms on noncompliant kennel owners and keepers, and
4. prohibits the sale of puppies younger than eight weeks old.
The law requires kennel owners or keepers who annually breed more than two litters of dogs to obtain a license. Any such person who fails to (1) get a license or (2) allow inspection of his premises faces a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in prison, or both. (Town clerks issue kennel licenses. Kennel owners or keepers who annually breed two or fewer litters may apply for a license, but are not required to do so.)
The agriculture commissioner, an animal control officer, or a licensed veterinarian the commissioner appoints may inspect a kennel at any time. If the inspector finds (1) the kennel is not being maintained in good repair and in a sanitary and humane manner, (2) the presence of infectious disease, or (3) other unsatisfactory conditions, the commissioner may (1) order the conditions corrected and (2) quarantine the premises and dogs. The commissioner must suspend or revoke the license of any owner or keeper who does not comply with these orders. An owner or keeper who continues to operate a kennel after his license has been revoked or suspended may be fined up to $1,000, sentenced up to one year in prison, or both (CGS § 22-342).
A municipality may require licensing of breeding facilities that keep 10 or more unneutered or unspayed dogs capable of breeding. As above, the agriculture commissioner, an animal control officer, or a licensed veterinarian the commissioner appoints may inspect the facility at any time. If, in the judgment of the commissioner, the location is not maintained in a sanitary and humane manner, or infectious disease or other unsatisfactory conditions exist, the commissioner may (1) order the conditions corrected and (2) quarantine the premises and dogs. The commissioner may recommend that the town issuing the license revoke or suspend the license of an owner or keeper who fails to comply with the orders. An owner or keeper who continues to maintain such a facility after his license is revoked or suspended may be fined between $50 and $100 (CGS § 22-344c).
The law requires any puppy imported into the state to have a health certificate, signed by a licensed, graduate veterinarian, issued no earlier than 30 days before the date it was imported. It must state that the animal is free of symptoms of any communicable disease. If the puppy is at least three months old, it must also state that it is has been vaccinated for rabies. The livestock sanitary official of the animal's original state must send a copy of the certificate to the commissioner.
The law prohibits any individual, firm, or corporation from (1) importing or exporting in order to sell, or offering for sale, a puppy younger than eight weeks old unless it is transported with its mother, and (2) selling within Connecticut a puppy younger than eight weeks old. Violators face a fine of up to $100, up to 30 days in jail, or both (CGS § 22-354).
Pet shops must have a veterinarian examine each dog before it offers it for sale and every 15 days until it is sold (CGS § 22-344b).
The shop must post on the cage of each dog it offers for sale a sign, at least 3 inches by 5 inches, which lists (1) the dog's breed, (2) the locality and state in which it was born, and (3) any individual identifying number on the veterinary inspection certificate from the state of origin.
In addition, each pet shop must prominently display a sign stating the following, in black lettering on a white background. The lettering must be at least this large (38-point type). The sign must state that the following information is always available on all puppies the pet shop sells:
1. date and state of birth;
2. breed, sex, and color;
3. the date the pet shop received the puppy;
4. the names and registration numbers of the parents (for American Kennel Club registerable puppies);
5. records of inoculations and worming treatments; and
6. any record of veterinary treatment or medications received to date.
The sign must include a telephone number at the agriculture department where information may be obtained regarding complaints about diseased or disabled animals offered for sale (CGS § 22-344d).
There are a number of other laws and regulations that seek to ensure humane treatment of dogs in pet shops. We have attached OLR Report 2004-R-0861, which provides more detail on pet shop regulation in Connecticut and other New England states.