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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Lawmakers Debate Regulations For Pet Breeders

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Commercial dog and cat breeders would come under state supervision, if a bill introduced Tuesday in the Montana House becomes law.

Billings Democratic Representative Margie MacDonald says the discovery in 2011 of a Malamute breeding kennel in Jefferson County, where 160 dogs were found in filthy cages with little food or water, inspired her to write a bill requiring commercial pet breeders to be licensed and regulated.

"Puppy mills are only discovered when conditions become so poor that law enforcement must get involved because of criminal animal cruelty or when the owner becomes overwhelmed and abandons them," Macdonald said.

According to the ASPCA, Montana is one of only 19 states with no regulations covering dog and cat breeding operations. MacDonald’s bill would require anyone who owns more than eight dogs or cats used for breeding, to get a license and submit to state inspections.

Testifying against the bill, Margaret Duezabou says it unfairly targets people like her who breed dogs as a hobby.

"I think this is about labeling enough individuals and their personal homes as facilities, to monetarily support a sketchy scheme to monitor dog and cat breeders."

Some owners of show animals voiced concern that they, too, would fall under the bill, but MacDonald says it would only apply to animals used for breeding, not to those that compete in dog and cat shows.  The House Business Committee will vote later on whether to send House Bill 608 to the House Floor.

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