Activists Could Change the Way Dog Breeders Do Business

In previous years, municipalities have sought to regulate the breeding of so-called aggressive dogs, such as pit bulls or German shepherds. But now local governments are banding together to work against the dog breeders themselves, rather than punishing the breed.

Several communities around the U.S. have taken aim at “backyard” dog breeders, who are often unlicensed, keep dogs in poor conditions, and breed them multiple times.

One woman in Muncie, IN, requested that her city regulate the practice of dog breeding with a local ordinance.

Linda Michael went before the Delaware County Council and asked officials to put an end to this form of animal cruelty. Dogs, like humans, can suffer from loneliness if neglected, and an estimated 4% out of the 55 million dogs throughout the country have been known to experience separation anxiety.

Michael attributes local problems with animal abuse and neglect with backyard breeding. “I would like for once for Muncie and Delaware County to say we’re doing something positive,” she said.

Michael proposed a law that would charge a fee to dog owners who plan to breed their dogs; the fee would also be raised for those who breed their dogs multiple times.

But at the meeting, council attorney Amanda Dunnuck told Michael that, “It’s not as simple as an ordinance,” regarding a law that would charge dog owners. The rule simply can’t be easily enforced, the council told Michael.

Other areas, however, have enacted such laws to combat “puppy mills,” where dogs are bred and sold for profit while being kept in squalid conditions.

In West Virginia, S.B. 347 passed in 2013 and requires potential dog breeders to obtain a business license, pay no more than $250 per year in state fees and get inspected twice annually.

Activists from the Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia, however, say that the state has been slow to adopt the policies. The group has taken to traveling to County Commissions statewide to get them to adopt the fees and regulations on such businesses.

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