State Rep. Brenda Kupchick's four-year campaign to stop Midwestern puppy mills from dumping genetically inferior animals on Connecticut's pet owners culminated early Wednesday in a compromise bill that would return retail prices and vet bills for newly purchased dogs and cats that become sick.
The bill, which unanimously passed the House and had previously been approved in the Senate, moves to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.
While Kupchick, R-Fairfield, failed in her attempt to create an outright ban on puppy sales in the state's 16 pet shops that sell canines, said the bill would go a long way toward assuring people that the puppies they buy are not sick or have chronic ailments; and if they are ill, the shops will pay medical bills and return purchase costs.
"The bill allows for a lot more accountability of the pet stores to consumers," Kupchick said in an interview in the Capitol Wednesday morning. "They now have to pay, instead of $500, they have to pay up to the purchase price of the dog and veterinarian costs. They will now, instead of receiving warnings from the state Department of Agriculture, will actually receive real tickets for not being in compliance with current state law about posting information."
Pet shops would also have to display information on all their breeders and would be banned from buying puppies from unlicensed breeders or breeders with more than one serious violation or three lower-level violations. The shops would also be required to have proof that veterinarians are checking dogs and cats twice a month.
"I can't tell you how many representatives from both sides of the aisle came up to me over the last week saying they were getting flooded with emails from their constituents sayin,g `What's going on with that puppy bill? We want it passed,' " said Kupchick, who worked closely with Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and Sen. Bob Duff, R-Norwalk, on the issue over the last year.
"Bringing it up every year, you know, talking about it, I think it brought a lot of awareness to the general public," said Kupchick, who co-chaired a legislative task force with Duff on the issue. "Did we get a ban on them? No, we didn't, but I think the awareness factor is important. People will think a second time before purchasing an animal from a pet store and they'll try to go after the rescues and the local breeders. Because, frankly, every time you buy a dog in a pet store, you're contributing to the inhumane treatment of a domestic animal for profit. This industry makes a huge amount of money off these puppies, and there has been no accountability."
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