Dog lovers call for puppy mill reform

HARRISBURG, Pa. - September 16, 2008 - They say puppy mill laws are not tough enough and need to be reformed. They say there are certain large breeders in Pennsylvania that treat the dogs like a cash crop.

They took their message, and their four legged friends to Harrisburg Tuesday to make a point.

Critics say puppy mill dogs are confined in small wire cages for years without social contact, exercise or veterinary care.

Also at the event was a golden retriever named Maggie, who appeared alongside Governor Ed Rendell. She delivered her third litter stillborn.

"If she hadn't, she'd have probably stayed in a rabbit hutch, where she lived for the first two years of her life," Gov. Rendell said. "Then, after seven or eight years, she probably would have been discarded."

The crowd wants the passage of House Bill 2525. It calls for, among other things, puppy mills to provide larger cages, an exercise space ,fresh water and veterinary care to make sure the dogs are healthy enough to have puppies.

Vet care is a hot button issue. This summer a Berks County dog breeder chose to shoot 80 of his dogs instead of giving them veterinary care. The shootings were legal.

Supporters of 2525 say the public outcry to that incident helped stop efforts to water down the reform bill.

"A lot of legislators flipped after that event. They realized how horrific that was," said Bill Smith of Main Line Rescue. "It's sad that those dogs had to die, but they didn't die in vain."

It's expected that 2525 will pass the House, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Its future is far less certain in the Senate, as the clock winds down during this legislative session.

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