By Madison Coker
KU Statehouse Wire Service
TOPEKA – Kansas animal rescuers asked the House Agriculture Committee Thursday to support their efforts in regulating puppy mills.
The proposed bill, SB47, would add pet animal rescue networks under the jurisdiction of Animal Health Commissioner of the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). The bill passed the Senate last month on a 34-5 vote with one abstention.
The KDA would establish rules and regulations concerning the operations, registration and recordkeeping of the organization.
The bill would add a numbers of new laws and amendments for animal rescue organizations as well as licensed dog breeders. However, not everyone agrees on the proposed legislation.
One of the controversial points was changing how inspectors contact dog breeders. Under current law, it is up to the inspectors’ discretion if they want to notify a breeder they are coming before a visit.
Board Member of Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption Susan Kaufmann said that dog breeders should not get a warning before inspection. She compared these inspections to inspections when she worked in a hospital, and said not knowing keeps the staff always on their A-game.
“We have to be in a constant state of readiness, and that has improved our care,” Kaufmann said. “We are not spending a year getting ready, we are just always ready.”
Kansas Federation of Animal Owners member Rebecca Mosshart said this amendment is not feasible for breeders that live in rural communities.
Mosshart said everything in her town is at least 30 minutes away from each other, so it is difficult for her to come back for an inspection quickly. She said inspections without her present are difficult.
“Most of my employees do manual work,” Mosshart said. “I do not allow my employees into my record keeping.”
Rep. Virgil Weigel (D-Topeka) pointed out to Mosshart that under a licensing contract agreement, she filled out certain hours and days of the week where she, or a representative, would be available for inspection.
Mosshart acknowledged that, but said she often has to be away from her home to go to the vet. She said it would be nice to get a heads up, so she could make sure she is home for the inspection.
Another controversial topic in the bill is the addition of an $80 no contact fee. That means if an inspector came to a breeder’s home and no one was there within a certain time frame (previously allocated on their licensing contract), the breeder would be charged.
The House Agriculture Committee will now rework some of the wording in the bill before sending it for a vote. The wording could change how the bill would affect licensed puppy breeders.
Madison Coker is a University of Kansas junior studying journalism from Kansas City.