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Saturday, March 24 Local

Animal News Desk / Cathy Kangas

Nothing gets me more upset than puppy mills. Unscrupulous and often unlicensed breeders dump thousands of puppies into pet shops and flea markets around the country every year. Many times, these puppies are ill due to inbreeding and suffer from respiratory ailments, skeletal problems and vitamin deficiency. Those who purchase puppies from pet shops and flea markets often find out too late that the new addition to their home is very sick. They incur astronomical vet bills to save a puppy that may have already bonded with their children.

Our great governor, Dannel P. Malloy, has decided to take a stand against puppy mills by signing a bill that will increase standards for Connecticut retail pet shops and breeders. I maintain that with so many wonderful dogs languishing in shelters like Adopt-A-Dog, there is no reason to purchase a puppy from a pet shop. However, those who do choose this alternative will now be protected from buying a pet that was raised in inhumane conditions.

The new bill will require the state commissioner of agriculture to develop a standard of care that will apply to all state dog and cat breeders by Dec. 31, 2014. It will also prohibit pet shop licensees from purchasing dogs or cats from a breeder who has violated certain federal animal welfare regulations in the past two years and increases the fine for violating related requirements. The bill also enhances our state's "pet lemon law." Now, when someone racks up high vet bills for a pet that was purchased sick or became sick shortly after purchase, the pet shop will be required to reimburse a greater amount to the customer for those bills. Pet shops will also be required to post the federal inspection reports for breeders of any dog offered for sale so that customers know where their dog is coming from.

The bill was championed by Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, and Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk. It is great to see legislators reaching across the aisle to help puppies. Cat lovers will be protected as well when the legislation becomes effective on Oct. 1.

Like other schemes that make money at the public's expense, puppy mills have established strong lobbies to prevent regulation. This bill is an important step toward protecting the public from purchasing sick puppies as well as securing a better life for animals who are earmarked for breeding.

We applaud Gov. Malloy for taking a stand against puppy mills and thank him for his compassion for animals and leadership in this fight. This bill will keep some of the worst puppy mills in the country from selling to Connecticut pet stores. One way citizens can help fight puppy mills is by adopting from municipal pounds like the Greenwich Animal Shelter, or purchasing from responsible, ethical breeders, who never sell through pet shops.

Let's hear it for a puppy mill-free Connecticut!

New Canaan resident Cathy Kangas is a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. She can be reached at cathy@praibeauty.com.