Dave Roland
You may have noticed the statewide hubbub about the so-called "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." I'm starting to wonder how many people — on either side of the debate — have actually read either the proposed statute or the current law on the subject. To help clarify the conversation, I thought I'd offer the following comparison between the law currently on the books and the actual text of Prop B.

Current Law: Prop B:
Animals must be fed at least once every 12 hours. "The food must be uncontaminated, wholesome, palatable and of sufficient quantity and nutritive value to maintain the normal condition and weight of the animal. The diet must be appropriate for the individual animal's age and condition." Dogs must have access to "appropriate, nutritious food at least once a day".
Current Law: Prop B:
"If potable water is not continually available to the animals, it must be offered to the animals as often as necessary to ensure their health and well-being, but not less than once each eight (8) hours for at least one (1) hour each time, unless restricted by the attending veterinarian. Water receptacles must be kept clean and sanitized in accordance with this rule and before being used to water a different animal or social grouping of animals." Dogs must have "continuous access to potable water that is not frozen, and is free of debris, feces, algae, and other contaminants."
Current Law: Prop B:
Breeders must employ an attending veterinarian and must provide "daily observation of all animals to assess their health and well-being." While this daily observation need not be made by a licensed vet, "a mechanism of direct and frequent communication is required so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior and well-being is conveyed to the attending veterinarian." "Necessary veterinary care means, at a minimum, examination at least once a year by a licensed veterinarian."
Current Law: Prop B:
Each dog must be provided floor space equivalent to (animal length from tip of nose to base of tail + six inches) squared. Nursing mothers must be provided additional space as determined by the attending veterinarian. Ceilings must be at least six inches higher than the height of the tallest dog in the enclosure. All shelters "must allow each animal to sit, stand and lie in a normal manner and to turn about freely." Dogs must have "(1) sufficient indoor space for each dog to turn in a complete circle without any impediment (including a tether); (2) enough indoor space for each dog to lie down and fully extend his or her limbs and stretch freely without touching the side of an enclosure or another dog; (3) at least one foot of headroom above the head of the tallest dog in the enclosure; and (4) at least 12 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog up to 25 inches long; at least 20 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog between 25 and 35 inches long; and at least 30 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog for dogs 35 inches and longer (with the length of the dog measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail)."
Current Law: Prop B:
Indoor facilities for animals must generally remain above 50 degrees, and if the temperature drops lower the animals must be provided with "dry bedding, solid resting boards or other methods of conserving body heat." If temperatures rise above 85 degrees, animals must be provided with "fans, blowers, or air conditioning." Dogs must have "constant and unfettered access to an indoor enclosure that has a solid floor; is not stacked or otherwise placed on top of or below another animal’s enclosure; and does not fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit."
Current Law: Prop B:
Breeders must establish an exercise plan for each animal and have it approved by the attending veterinarian.

"The opportunity for exercise may be provided in a number of ways, such as
(I) Group housing in cages, pens or runs that provide at least one hundred percent (100%) of the required space for each dog if maintained separately under the minimum floor space requirements of this rule;
(II) Maintaining individually housed dogs in cages, pens or runs that provide at least twice the minimum floor space required by this rule;
(III) Providing access to a run or open area at the frequency and duration prescribed by the attending veterinarian; or
(IV) Other similar activities."
"Regular exercise" means constant and unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area that is composed of a solid, ground level surface with adequate drainage; provides some protection against sun, wind, rain, and snow; and provides each dog at least twice the square footage of the indoor floor space provided to that dog.
Current Law: Prop B:
"Excreta and food waste must be removed from primary enclosures daily and from under primary enclosures as often as necessary to prevent an excessive accumulation of feces and food waste, to prevent soiling of the animals contained in the primary enclosures, and to reduce disease hazards, insects, pests and odors. When steam or water is used to clean the primary enclosure, whether by hosing, flushing or other methods, animals must be removed, unless the enclosure is large enough to ensure the animals would not be harmed, wetted or distressed in the process. Standing water must be removed from the primary enclosure and adjacent areas. Animals in other primary enclosures must be protected from being contaminated with water and other wastes during the cleaning. The pans under primary enclosures with grill-type floors and the ground areas under raised runs with wire or slatted floors must be cleaned as often as necessary to prevent accumulation of feces and food waste and to reduce disease hazards, pests, insects and odors." Dog shelters must be cleaned of waste at least once per day while the dog is outside the enclosure.

Prop B would certainly require some changes — for example, although it talks about the requirements for enclosures, it also seems to forbid them entirely by demanding "constant and unfettered access" to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Wouldn't any enclosure that prevented such "constant and unfettered access" to these things violate the law?

Another interesting point is that, as you can see, some of the standards that Prop B would establish are actually lower than those in the current law. If the law currently requires that dogs be given food at least twice per day, why would you want to lower the requirement to feeding once a day? If the law currently sets the expectation that indoor facilities be kept higher than 50 degrees (and specifies the actions that must be taken to ensure the animals' comfort if the temperature drops lower), why adopt the lower expectation of 45 degrees? Even where the standards established under the two laws are very similar, our current rules are very specific about how animals ought to be cared for. Why would it be a good idea to move from those specifics to something more general?

I am not, of course, advocating either in favor of the current law or in favor of Prop B. I just think that people should have a more thorough understanding of the proposed changes before they decide where they stand on this issue.

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