New Connecticut pet shops would be prohibited from selling animals from so-called puppy mills under compromise recommendations approved Friday by a legislative task force.
The panel's recommendations, which will be given to the Legislature's Environment Committee for consideration during the General Assembly session that starts next week, would limit new pet shops to the sale of rescue animals or those obtained from humane sources, including shelters.
A member of the committee representing pet shops said that it would put new shops at a business disadvantage, while animal-rights advocates on the panel unsuccessfully called for a phase-out of all animals obtained from out-of-state sources.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, a member of the task force, warned that a constitutional issue could be raised about restricting one business while giving another an advantage.
Another provision would extend the state's "Puppy Lemon Law," which requires pet shops to pay veterinary bills of up to $500 within 20 days of a sale. Under the task force proposal, pet shops would pay for an unlimited amount of veterinary care because of medical problems within 20 days, or congenital defects within six months of sale.
The co-chairmen of the task force said that the sharply divided panel finally came together on some ground, but the pet industry and animal-rights activists remain far apart.
The recommendations of the 11-member Task Force Concerning the Sale of Cats and Dogs at Connecticut Pet Shops from Inhumane Origins, includes criminal penalties for violation of current laws regulating pet shops and would add $5 charges for the sale of all cats and dogs to set up a trust fund within the state Department of Agriculture for added inspections and enforcement.
"I believe the evidence is clear to the general public that conditions in commercial animal mills are not humane," said Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, co-chairman of the panel, which was formed last year.