When you think of what your dog means to you, the phrase, “just a pet,” is never what comes to your mind. You think of loyalty. You think of the guaranteed happy greeting you receive when you walk in the door every day. You think of sloppy kisses and cuddling on the couch, and everything you and your dog have together. They aren’t kidding when they say your dog is your best friend. There is no other way to describe it.
Now Imagine your dog in a kennel with rusted floors and uncleaned fecal matter everywhere. With discharge coming from their eyes, paws bleeding from wire floors, severe matting, open wounds, visible tumors and tooth decay. Imagine all of these horrors on the little guy you call your best friend. Don’t like what you see, do you?
What you just read was the environment of the average puppy mill described by the ASPCA National Shelter Outreach Department.
What is a puppy mill? The Humane Society of the United States website tells us that Puppy mills are mass-breeding facilities that churn out puppies for pet trade with a desire for profit and no care for welfare. Breeding dogs in puppy mills have no real quality of life, often living in small wire cages with little to no personal attention, exercise, or veterinary care. The dogs that survive these cruel and unhealthy situations are then sold to pet stores or unsuspecting customers online, and often live short and disease ridden lives.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, a recent study of inspection results showed that the Humane Society of the United States identified 100 facilities with repeated violations of animal welfare laws. Kansas had 11 breeders on that list — the third highest of the 20 states in the study. This is a problem we can no ignore.
Dr. Michael Faurot, director of the KDA’s animal facilities inspections, conceded that the existence of puppy mills “truly is a Kansas issue,” but said the key to ridding the state of such facilities is finding the unlicensed ones, and with only three inspectors covering the entire state, the KDA relies heavily on the public to catch such breeders. THIS is where our problem lies.
In order to better the welfare of dogs bred in the state of Kansas, it is absolutely mandatory that we update the Kansas Pet Animal Act. In a letter to the State legislatures, Terry Humphrey, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of The United States, proposes these regulations such as banning wire flooring, requiring water continuously, setting temperatures at which dogs aren’t allowed to be exposed, and allowing for more space for animals should be mandated. These are just a few of the regulations that should be in place, for the list of what needs to be specified and updated in the Kansas Pet Animal Act could go on forever.
But we shouldn’t stop there. Putting these laws in place will do nothing without people to enforce it.
Currently, the KDA attempts to inspect each facility at most once every two years. With nearly 2000 different facilities, and the state of Kansas only employing three inspectors, this task is nearly impossible.
The only way to ensure the welfare of these animals is to require mandatory inspections from licensed breeders every six months, which, in turn, means we must hire more inspectors.
The Kansas State Legislature has an obligation to correct this problem. The Kansas Pet Animal Act is 28 years old, and the animals are the ones paying the price for these outdated regulations. The act has been remained unchanged since the day it was written, and it is clear that we are in dire need to change it. With more inspectors to enforce the healthy and humane breeding of animals, Kansas can once again regain its reputation as a world leader in animal health. And please, If you have concerns about a facility, let someone know and call the animal health department at (785) 296-2326.