Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-445

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TASK FORCE ON THE SALE OF CATS AND DOGS FROM INHUMANE ORIGINS AT CONNECTICUT PET SHOPS.

Vote Date:

3/21/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/17/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill comes in response to the Task Force on the Sale of Cats and Dogs from Inhumane Origins at Connecticut Pet Shops. The intent of the bill is to implement the recommendations that were put forth by the Task Force.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The substitute language limits reimbursement for veterinary services and medications to a consumer under lemon law to not more than the purchase price of the dog or cat, provided such dog or cat is diagnosed with a congenital defect within six months of purchase.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Andrea McNally, Intergovernmental Affairs, APHIS, United States Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture submitted testimony that explains the inspection, compliance and investigation procedures. They explain that their authority is derived through Congress to administer the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and explain the process a facility applicant would go through. Ms. McNally details the many tools the USDA can use to stop non-compliant facilities after an inspection finds an item of non-compliance. They also explain that if the facility operator continues to be outside of compliance, the USDA can confiscate the animals.

Amy de Flumere, The Humane Society

Ms. Flumere submitted a fact sheet, stating, “most pet store puppies come from puppy mills”. They highlight the conditions that are acceptable under the Animal Welfare Act. She calls for a strengthening of the conditions that are acceptable, for increased inspections by the USDA; as well as the “parade of horribles” that inspections had found. The Humane Society argues that many stores remain profitable even after changing to only selling pet supplies and offering rescued dogs.

Eva Ceranowicz, Past President, Chris Gargamelli, Immediate Past President, Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association

The Association stands in support of the legislation as drafted presently. They support the bill's intent to maintain transparency, improve oversight, and ensure high standards. They also stand behind the Animal Welfare Act and hope to strengthen its language.

The Humane Society of the United States, Annie Hornish, Connecticut State Director:

The organization supports the bill with the recommendation that “humane sourcing” language be amended. The language would specify that new shops can only sell puppies from a publicly operating animal control facility or shelter or rescue organization. Existing shops would also follow the same guidelines beginning July 1, 2019. The HSUS asserts:

● Numerous problems are associated with pet shop puppy sales;

● Existing Connecticut law is insufficient to prevent the proliferation of dogs sourced from inhumane origins;

● Federal laws and regulations are insufficient to prevent the proliferation of dogs sourced from inhumane origins;

● Inspection reports understate puppy mill cruelty;

● The commercial pet industry fails to provide pet stores with humanely raised dogs;

● Reputable breeders do not sell to pet shops;

● There is no shortage of available puppies;

● The HSUS proudly supports responsible dog breeders;

● The HSUS proudly supports humane pet shops; and,

● Taxpayers benefit due to reducing the costs associated with overpopulation problems.

Sherry Wernicke, member of CT Council of The Humane Society of the United States:

Wernicke, of Riverside, expresses disappointment the bill does not include language to stop the sale of commercially bred dogs in pet shops. More than 600 breeders supply dogs to 16 shops in the state. Despite United States Department of Agriculture inspections and Animal Wellness standards at some breeding facilities, 70 percent of breeders supplying Connecticut shops have repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act, many times for serious offenses. Connecticut stores that sell commercially bred puppies have not taken sufficient steps to end this problem when alternatives, such as local breeders and shelters, exist.

Stephanie Scavelli, District Leader, Humane Society of the United States:

Mr. Scavelli urges support of the bill with the addition of banning the sale of commercially-bred puppies in new stores and phasing it out for existing ones. The ban would not impact responsible breeders in the state. Ms. Scavelli argues that taxpayers pay the price for irresponsible commercially-bred dogs.

Gordon Willard, Executive Director, Connecticut Humane Society

Mr. Willard spoke in support of the bill. He welcomed the work of the Task Force in crafting this legislation and calls it “a way to provide greater clarity” and “craft stronger animal care standards”. He noted legislation in '98 in New Haven, House Bill 5010 in 2005, and HB 5027 as efforts in the recent past to end inhumane treatment of animals. Lastly, he submitted that this legislation “will undoubtedly require additional attention as crafted in this bill.”

Rep. Fred Camillo, 151st District

Rep. Camillo submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating it was a “win-win for all involved.” Specifically, he contended that the bill will benefit shelter and rescue dogs, which was a recommendation of the Task Force.

Rep. Auden Grogins, 129th District

Rep Grogins lauds the process that was undertaken by the Task Force and supports the legislation that was crafted. Rep. Grogins explains that the bill will strengthen the puppy lemon law, expand oversight and inspections for pet shops, and prohibit sale of puppies from breeders with USDA violations.

Faith Gavin Kuhn, Connecticut Business Industry Association (CBIA)

CBIA submitted testimony in support of the bill and applauds the efforts of the Task Force. They also “appreciated the legislation's nod” to avoiding a complete ban; noting that doing so would economically harm Connecticut.

Hon. Toni N. Harp, Mayor, New Haven

The Mayor is in support of the hard work the Task Force put in on this tough subject. Her Honor listed her concerns with the recommendations that were put forth. Her primary concerns are:

● disagreement with being pet store owners cited for indirect violations;

● believes the Puppy Lemon Law should stay in its current form; and,

● wants to ensure that “responsible” pet store owners are protected.

Lastly she provides a personal story about Safari Stan's, a pet store in New Haven.

Brian Winslow, Director, Operations and Animal Welfare, Petland

Mr. Winslow stands in support of the current bill and the Task Force's recommendations. He argues that switching from having a pet store sell puppies to only selling pet food and pet supplies would be extremely costly to the retailer based on the redesign and having to dispose of existing equipment. Furthermore, he notes that smaller stores distinguish themselves from big box retailers by developing a loyal customer base. Lastly, he notes that mom and pop pet stores would be economically disadvantaged, as opposed to big box stores.

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH, CGA Pet Shop Task Force Member

Dr. Goldman submitted testimony that applauds the work of the Task Force and the language of the bill for taking a “measured, thoughtful approach” to make sure that pet shops and animal husbandry increase their quality, transparency, and fairness; while “avoiding the inevitable unintended consequences” of a complete ban.

Charlene W. Rogers, Farmington Police Department, Animal Control Devision

Ms. Rogers states her strong support, along with the fact that she has been an animal control office for 21 years and a Veterinary Assistant for 18 years. She stands behind the Task Force's recommendations that require a standard of care be met. She also stands behind the Task Force recommendations to:

● Require that USDA inspections be posted for the public;

● Breeders only be licensed if and when they have no prior USDA violations for neglect or abuse;

● Strengthen the “Puppy Lemon Law;”

● Establishing criminal penalties for violations of statutes and regulations.

Bob Vetere, President and CEO, American Pet Products Association, Inc.

Mr. Vetere supports the bill in its current form and argues that pet stores want to sell quality products, especially when it is a live animal, for the fact that their very business would end if they did not. Mr. Vetere favors the current bill because it doesn't prohibit sales of puppies from all out-of-state breeders. He further argues that those that would completely ban out-of-state breeders would hurt the good actors more than the bad ones.

National Animal Interest Alliance:

The organization supports the bill as written as a balanced approach.

Susan B. Linker, CEO, & Henry Petrofsky, Our Companions Animal Rescue:

The organization supports much of the bill, but requests that it be amended to include the task force recommendation requiring new pet stores to only obtain cats and dogs through humane sourcing. The legislature should also consider a phase-out option for the 16 shops that sell “puppy mill” animals. They feel that discussing breeder violations are futile since American Welfare Act standards are so minimal. Additionally, Connecticut has many reputable breeders. If the bill passed, consumers would still have a choice to purchase from them or adopt from shelters. Mr. Petrofsky also lists all the practices that are still allowable under the AWA.

Debora Bresch, Esq. ASPCA

Ms. Bresch provides six amendments that the ASPCA argues should be added to the bill. The ASPCA also speaks to the weakness of the AWA. Ms. Bresch argues that there are too many mills, compared to the small number of inspectors. They provide pictures of the deplorable conditions of puppy mills, and of what is allowed under the Animal Welfare Act.

Monty Kaufman, Puppies of Westport:

Since 2010, more 30,000 families and individuals have purchased a puppy from a store in Connecticut, contributing to taxes, real estate and employment. More importantly, some 100,000 citizens have found a best friend. From 2010 to 2013 the state has received less than 20 complaints about puppies from pet stores

Activists have painted a false picture through rhetoric, billboards, letters and more, and if stores were guilty of a fraction of it, they would have been shut down.

Additionally the task force data was flawed. With Puppies of Westport, for example, the task force cited a study that listed 72 breeders for 2012. However, in 2012 the store did not buy a single puppy from 41 of those listed. Breeder numbers are flawed and the study claims 46 percent of those the store used in 2012 were “horrible” violators. In fact the store did not purchase one puppy that year from a breeder with a direct violation.

Pet Industry Distributors Association:

The Puppy Mill Task Force was prejudiced against commercial breeders and local retailers. The lack of a single retailer on the force was disappointing.

The organization does applaud the committee for looking at the data and crafting a bill that seeks to ensure the humane treatment of animals without driving retailers out of business. The legislature should continue to consider unintended consequences for retailers, distributors and manufacturers.

Connecticut Retail Merchants Association:

The bill, as written, is thoughtful and balanced. The association applauds the committee for not including task force recommendations that ignored economic realities for small business. The bill will help improve conditions for animals and urges legislators to reject amendments that would seek a sales prohibition. Efforts to strengthen the warranty law are commendable, but the association would have preferred language to allow retailers to seek a second veterinarian's opinion.

Peach Reid, Fish Mart CEO and Board member for Pet Industry Advisory Council:

Pet stores have a great incentive to use the highest standards in the care and sourcing of their animals. Activists who oppose commercial breeding feel that putting pet stores out of business is the best way to attack the problem. Limiting sale of animals to those that come from shelters, rescues or local breeders would actually remove existing United States Department of Agriculture protections. The Council also makes some technical wording change suggestions.

Amy Harrell, President, Connecticut Votes for Animals

Ms. Harrell submitted testimony in support of the bill with the request that it be amended to phase out and completely ban the sale of puppy mill puppies. In her testimony, she argues that contrary to the industry's assertions that it is not just a few bad actors; it is a system that has sprung up and needs to be overhauled. As others have stated, she notes that the AWA needs more teeth and that the USDA's inspection process has been audited under the US Inspector General's Office and was found to be “severely lacking.” She states “I am not anti-puppy, anti-pet store, or anti-choice. What I am proposing is that it is time we fully acknowledge and take action against the cruelty that is rampant in the pet industry. I am asking that we move away from the outdated and exploitive model of manufacturing pets like commodities and shipping them out for sale in the retail market.”

Debbie Purchia, Owner, Pet Playhouse

Ms. Purchia supports the bill, but lobbies for a complete ban of the sale of puppy mill puppies. She also uses her own experience as a business owner who owns an all-natural pet supply store, as an example of how the current 16 stores in Connecticut could transition to a more humane business model. In addition, she explains how she strives to sell rescued puppies and holds fundraisers to aid adoptions, which help to increase foot traffic in her store. Lastly, she states her support of Connecticut Votes for Animals' testimony.

Lauren Kaufman, Puppies of Westport

Ms. Kaufman submitted testimony in support of the bill, arguing that she and her husband strive to provide people and families with a healthy animal. She states that they even called through thousands of customers they had sold to and ended up with an approval rate of 97%. Additionally, she details the many abuses she has suffered at the hands of animal activists.

The following people submitted testimony in support of the bill. A majority of the testifiers do, however, look for two amendments. They propose amending the bill to include language to ban commercially-bred dogs and phase out the sale of commercially-bred dogs. These testifiers detail the horrible and squalid conditions at puppy mills, call for strengthening of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and increasing inspections by the USDA. Some testifiers also mention legislation that has recently been passed in New York and Chicago as an example of what Connecticut could do. Some speak against the profit-driven nature that current pet shops and puppy mills operate under.

Ava Fiore, Angela Foote, Albert N Emond, Alexandra Ivey, Allyson Halm, Andrew Siciliano, Bo Jarnstedt, Brad Geremia, Candace Federici, Catherine A. DeTullio-Edman Christine Kim, Claudia Ginter, Corrine Versage, Corinne Caron Collins, Charlotte Grasson, DVM, Christine Pond, Dimitri Andreakis, Dale Rothbell, Debby McKeown, Elizabeth Abbe, Elizabeth Saint John, Ellen Goldfarb, Ellen and Martin Linker, Ellen Wilson, Gail Craig, Georgiann Dogolo, Henry and Ingrid Casas, Hope Sweeney, Esq., Ina Blejan, Janice S. Calkin, Jeff Stevens, Julie Lewin, Julia Caruk, Jamila Hadj Salem, Jasmine Caruk, Jo Ann Friedlander, Jack Kealey, Jennifer Kelsey, Kerri Ann Hofer, Karen Laski, Dr. Katherine A. Jackson, Linda R. Coleman, Linda Bruno, Lisa Haut, Lauren Hernandez, Megan Rudne Hoffecker, Lynn Jones, Lynn Printy and Oscar Janssen, Margaret Pisani, Maria Napier, Marianne Cirrito, Martina Steed, Martha Whitney, Maureen C. Moriarty, Michele K. Lamothe, DVM, Michelle Raiti, Missy Brayton, Nancy Herrmann, Natalie Jarnstedt, Neil and Annie Hornish, Nicole Bruck, Noreen Mola, Paige Randall, Pam Ross, Patricia A. Tucciarone, Peter Herrmann, Rebecca Pond, Renie Schmidt, Ron DeGray, Rita Chu, Russell M. Witte, Sheriden and James Franklin, Sonia Lefrancois, Sophie Kalomenidis, Selena Kuo, Stella Drakoulias, Steven McClenning, Sue Smith, Suan T Coggins D.V.M, Tim Saimond, Tina and Raul Santiago,Toni Rishar, Valerie Angeli, Diane Smith, West Haven High School Humane Club

The following testifiers submitted personal stories about how either they, or one of their extended family, either purchased an animal; volunteered at a rescue or shelter; or, are a practicing and licensed veterinarian. They also detail the myriad of health issues (broken teeth, kennel cough, mangled legs, lethargy, depression, or behavioral issues) that the animals they worked with had, due to the fact that these puppies were either sold or confiscated from puppy mills. In light of these experiences, they support the bill, but hope to add an outright ban on the sale of all puppy mill puppies. A few also speak to the fact that other stores have transitioned to a more humane business model (not selling animals) but are still in business.

Alecia Bohan, Susan Pinckney, Kristen Song, Esq., The Little Pink Shelter, Marcia Goodman, Anne Voloshin, Allison Allen, Jennifer J. Ahern, Barbara Rudnick, Enid Breakstone, M.Ed., Founder and Executive Director, The Queenie Foundation, Inc, Melissa Shaprio, DVM

Judy Spencer Henderson and Roberta Pisano, Shelter Connecticut

Ms. Spencer and Ms. Pisano speak in favor of the bill and state that they volunteer with a group that has a Facebook page that helps Connecticut shelters. They note that many of Connecticut's shelters are full, resulting in dogs being euthanized. They cite the need to spay and neuter all dogs and cats prior to going home to stem over-population, and cite puppy mill puppies are another major factor for this over population.

Anthony and Caitlin Sorge

Argue for the two amendments that so many others requested and for Connecticut's sixteen pet stores to transition away from selling commercially-bred puppies. They also comment on the lack of inspections, the weakness of the AWA, and argue that Connecticut can lead the nation on this issue. They also feel that consumers in today are looking for quality products when they shop, whether it is organic food, or if they are in the market to buy a puppy.

Cheryl Lipson

Ms. Lipson speaks in support of the bill and points out that rescue and adoption from public shelters should work in coordination with pet shops. She also decries the fact that in 2012 2,700 dogs and cats were euthanized in Connecticut's shelters at a cost of $733,199.

Mabel M. Diamond

Ms. Diamond supports the bill and identifies herself as a member of the South Windsor Kennel Club, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners, Inc. and a dog owner. She registers her support for the bill as proposed; finding that the bill provides consumer protections to purchasers and maintains the “highest of standards [to be] practiced by small and large breeders”.

Jane Elles

Ms. Elles submitted testimony in support of the bill and testified about her work reviewing Certificates of Origin with the Department of Agriculture. She points out that many of these forms are backlogged. She argues that, barring appropriations to hire more staff or acquire more resources, the legislation will be ineffective due to a lack of enforcement.

Margarette L. Wampold

Ms. Wampold speaks in support of the bill; noting that she has various positions on the American Kennel Club; the New England Sporting Dog Association; and, the Irish Setter Club of Central Connecticut. She also supports the bill as it allows a family to have a choice when purchasing their family pet.

Stephen Sackter, Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs & Responsible Dog Owners, Inc.

Mr. Sackter states that he and his organization are in full support of the bill because the organization is concerned with the wellbeing of the dogs above all else. He notes that his organization is comprised of 37 dog clubs with over 2,000 Connecticut residents within them. Mr. Sackter stands in support of the bill because it levels the playing field for all breeders, both big and small, while ensuring that the consumer is able to purchase a healthy animal.

Bill Katz

Mr. Katz submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, noting his support for a five-year phase out of commercially-bred dogs. He further argues that pet stores are driven by market capitalism to “produce the cheapest product with the least amount of care” leading to the neglect of the animals. He also compares this industry to that of slavery in the 19th Century. He urges the legislature to lead as they did with gun control legislation.

Karen Fox

Ms. Fox submitted testimony in support of the bill, as written. She notes her approval of the Task Force's recommendations and states that there are some reputable large-scale breeders and pet shops that still sell quality animals. Any ban would harm them economically.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th District

Rep. Rose does not like the bill in its current form. She notes that as the bill, as currently drafted, is creating demand for boarding facilities in private homes, which raises questions of liability, in addition to harming licensed boarders. She argues that an amendment should be included, namely, that “any person offering boarding shall be required to display their license number in such advertising.”

Will Coggin, Senior Research Analyst, The Center for Consumer Freedom

Mr. Coggin submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, stating that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) should not have a seat at the table on the task force or in the legislative process. He speaks about the many offenses and abuses he alleges HSUS is responsible for and questions the practices and membership of HSUS.

Reported by: Todd M. Szabo

Date: April 3, 2014