Wisconsin Pet Facilities Law
This is our History...what is Their future?
This web site will guide you through our past efforts in the ten-year struggle to end the abuse, neglect and cruelty inherent in Wisconsin Puppy Mills. To find out what's going on right now, please visit www.NoWisconsinPuppyMills.org
"I am hurt but I am not slain.
"...if one person is unkind to an animal,
it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to
animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once
sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise
On 8 April 2009, Rep. Jeff Smith and Sen. Pat Kreitlow introduced LRB-2448/2, THE COMMERCIAL DOG BREEDERS LICENSURE BILL. This is the legislation that we have been waiting for!
For more information on puppy mills in Wisconsin and what you can do to help end the suffering, Please see NoWisconsinPuppyMills.org.
The Pet Facilities law, was originally added to the WI State Statutes during the 2002 budget process. The law:
As originally passed by the legislature, the law and the funding for enforcement of the licensing and inspection program, would have been a giant step forward in eliminating the horrendous conditions in commercial pet breeding facilities (aka "puppy mills" or "puppy farms" and hte wquivalents for cats and other pets). The results would have been the alleviation of immeasurable suffering for the animals and incidentally helping to promote a healthy, temperamentally sound pet for the purchaser.
Unfortunately, then-Governor McCallum allowed the language of the law to appear 'on the books" but, after a last-minute phone call campaign by a WI dog breeder's lobby, then line-item-vetoed every nickel of the funding to support the program!
The law and funding were entirely self-supporting; none of these funding proposals would have come from the state's general budget. Instead, the funding included a very small increase in pet licenses state-wide, reasonable licensing fees for those businesses requiring a license, and fines for those who violated the law.
Without funding, not only was the bill / law "gutted," but Governor Doyle, in his budget package, recommended its repeal because it could not be enforced! When the budget went to the finance committee, PFL supporters barraged them with letters and emails to refuse repeal. The Finance Committee listened and did, indeed, remove the request for repeal.
Unfortunately, they also listened to the dog breeders' lobbies. Under Motion 386, ONLY people selling more than 50 animals a year for RESALE would need a license. There was no coverage for "direct sellers" like back yard breeders and puppy millers who sell directly to the public through the classifieds.
There were no provisions for rules or standards. There were no provision for inspectors. Only those people who could be prosecuted for cruelty to animals would have been turned over to the local authorities. That is the system we already have in place and we all know it DOESN'T work.
Despite the outbreak of monkey pox from unregulated "pets" and the tax benefits we showed the State would earn by regulating the industry, the Republicans stuck with the misguided Motion 386 which would only DOUBLE-license pet wholesalers already covered under USDA regulations. They allowed NO amendments to the budget whatsoever.
In the fall session, Representatives Larry Balow, Tom Lothian, and Jeff Wood reintroduced the PFL bill, with thirty-seven co-sponsors.
Bill number AB 536 then went to the Agriculture Committee chaired by Representative Al Ott, one of the 37 co-sponsors. PFL supporters rallied at a public hearing on 16 October 2004; 40 people registered IN FAVOR of the bill and only 6 opposed. The twenty speakers in favor of the bill included a licensed Wisconsin Humane officer as well as Ledy VanKavage, ASPCA Midwest State Government Affairs & Public Policy Director; Dr. Rick Lord, DMV, a breeder and veterinarian employed by a WI animal shelter (one of Dr. Lord's Borzois competed in the Westminster Dog Show in 2003); Sally Krause, President of WI Federated Humane Societies; and staff members of the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
No action was taken by the Agricultural Committee at this time. The PFL bill was on their meeting agenda for 30 October 2003, but was removed so that it could be discussed further.
During this time period, an amendment was added that would include birds, rodents, reptiles, etc. in the PFL regulations. This was a major victory for bird rescuers.
A major setback to Assembly Bill 536 (PFL Bill) occured in the Agricultural Committee in January 2004. Our supporters in the state legislature were fairly confident of winning a vote, but opponents invoked a rarely-used parlimentary rule to ensure that this vote would never be taken!
According to witnesses, at the end of the debate, Representative Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), with the strong support of Representatives Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) and Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), invoked this technicality to "postpone indefinitely" the vote on the PFL. As such, the official recommendation of the Assembly Agriculture Committee in regards to AB 536 is for the Assembly as a whole never to take a vote on the bill!
After the Ag Committee's "non-vote," it was up to the Assembly Rules Committee to decide whether to follow this recommendation, refer the bill to a different committee, or take a vote on the proposal anyway.
The good news is, Speaker Gard and the Rules Committee didn't follow the Ag Committee's recommendation and kill the bill entirely but instead they placed it once again in the hands of the Joint Committee on Finance. The bad news is, this committee is the one that gutted the existing PFL last year with Motion 386.
With the end of the legislative session on the horizon, things happened fast for the PFL. The Joint Finance Committee schduled a vote on AB 536 (the Pet Facilities Law bill) for 17 February 2004. This was good news--if a majority of the committee voted in favor of the bill, it could be scheduled for a floor vote!
We received information that an amendment was being offered as a "substitute" to the entire PFL AB536. The substitute amendment is penned by Rep Jake Hines (R). The Hines Amendment would eliminate protection of ALL pet species EXCEPT dogs.
PFL opponents mounted a huge e-mail, fax and call in campaign to the members of the Joint Finance Committee. The opposition was made up of breeders and dealers who did not want to be licensed, inspected or pay their fair share of tax on their "products."
Additionally, the opposition attempted to snag support of rescues and shelter groups by telling them that the PFL will "shut them down." This is categorically UNTRUE. We have many quality breeders and rescuers among our most ardent supporters; they feel that those who have nothing to hide should not fear regulation and in fact, should welcome it to help weed out the unscrupulous people who give them all a bad name.
The legislative session ended without the PFL ever coming to a vote. The politicians hoped that we would quietly fade away.
Guess what? We will not give up.
A 5 February 2004 WITI Fox news broadcast from a puppy mill in Plymouth, WI, showing conditions as bad as or worse than were documented in a 2001 broadcast from the same place, vividly underscores the necessity for stricter laws. (You can see the WTMJ News Video: Inside a Puppy Mill (Windows Media Format) from 2001 or read that interview on the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project website.)
In response to emails demanding that law enforcement officials do something about the conditions at this facility, the Sheboygan Co. Sheriff's Dept. explains that their hands are tied because "At present, Pretty Penny Kennels meets the minimum standards set forth in statute 951.14(1-4)" and goes on to suggest, "anyone concerned over this issue contact their local state government representative and voice his or her concerns to them."
It's up to us. WE are the only ones who can stop the abuse and neglect of pet animals used for profit in Wisconsin!
PS We are facing some stiff opposition who are armed with misconceptions, half truths, and misinformation about the PFL, particularly on an anonymous website called No PFL. Unlike the "No PFL" website owners, we are not working anonymously and hiding our identities. We would be delighted to clear up the misconceptions you may have after reading our opposition's "32 Facts."