We knew that they were disappointing. As soon as the commission refused to listen to the input of its advisory panel, we knew that the daily lives of thousands of animals across the state would be kept just as they are - uncomfortable, to say the least.
The final puppy mill rules have been released and upon reading them, a group of words is quite prevalent: "adequate", "sufficient", and "minimal". While efforts are being made to make sure that the animals in these breeding facilities receive "minimum standards of care", no one with the power to do so is going above and beyond as we urged them to do.
Dogs and cats can still be kept in crates with just barely enough room to move freely; the rules state that an animal must be able to lie down without having to touch at least one side of their enclosure. Their floors can still be made of painful wire mesh or metal slats. Their enclosures can be stacked upon one another, so long as they aren't stacked more than three crates high. And, no matter what breed, the animals are entitled to a mere minimum of one hour of activity, unless a veterinarian approves a shorter period of time. And, this activity is only guaranteed to animals not housed in pens deemed large enough to encourage daily activity without human intervention. What may be the most saddening aspect of all of these rules is that an animal, without "sensory access" to another animal of its kind, should be provided "positive human interaction" daily, but no duration is specified (would they consider ten seconds enough?) and no suggestion is given for those dogs and cats who are housed with others of their kind. How are the majority of these facilities supposed to breed well socialized, happy animals with just a smattering of required positive contact?
What is heartening at least, is that the breeders themselves, should they decide to be legitimate and register with the state, will have to undergo pre-licensing inspections and provide photographs and records of their facilities, including information about each animal's enclosure. Detailed records of each animal are to be kept, including information about that animal's medical care and treatment, and must be transferred with the animal upon sale or transfer. The department is required to inspect each facility at least every year and a half with the possibility of additional, non-routine inspections and provide "adequate" time to correct violations. But, for animals in distress, what should be considered adequate? There is not enough specific language to ensure that these animals are given the care they deserve exactly when they need it.The main problem with these rules is that they are too generic, too subjective, and worst of all, too minimal. Without the input from animal welfare agencies and advocates who witness deplorable breeding facilities routinely, these animals will be able to live with minimum standards of care, and little more. Who would want to live just "adequately"? If you want to read the full set of rules, you can find them on our website here.