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Bill would change regulation of these businesses

Dog PoundBy The Iowa Statesman

 

A bill offered yesterday in the General Assembly would completely scrap the way certain businesses are licensed and regulated by the State of Iowa.

Senate File 168, offered by state Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), seeks to regulate all businesses that “possess or control” non-agricultural animals. This includes shelters, pounds, research facilities, kennels, pet shops, and breeders. It does so by completely scrapping the current system of regulation.

Currently, Iowa Code Chapter 162 provides for the regulation of those commercial establishments through joint licensing and administration by the state and federal departments of agriculture. McCoy’s proposed legislation would refer to each type of commercial establishment as a “class,” and creates four new types of licenses:

  • a license for grooming facilities,
  • a license for animal rescues,
  • a license for animal sanctuaries, and
  • a special type of commercial breeder’s license reserved for a small breeder, competitive show breeder, or specialized breeder.

SF 168 also replaces the current fee system with one that includes the assessment of a base amount and the possible assessment of a scheduled amount based on “class.” A person who owns or operates more than one business in the same “class” would be required to possess only one license.

The bill states money collected from the new fee system would continue to be deposited in the Commercial Establishment Fund. But, it transfers part of those funds to a new Animal Rescue Remediation Fund under the control of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The fund would be used to reimburse local agencies for expenses incurred as a result of rescuing one or more animals in accordance with existing state law. Requests for reimbursement will only be considered if other means of reimbursement are not possible, or may be substantially delayed.

SF 168 would require IDALS to perform inspections and require licensees to maintain records. It would also empower the department to take disciplinary action for any violations, including the suspension or revocation of licenses.

Many of those provisions can be seen as addressing the issue of “puppy mills,” which have provided a legal conundrum for regulators and police officials for years. But, additional provisions also address the issue of “animal hoarding” by those insist they are operating animal sanctuaries.

SF 168 creates a new requirement that animal sanctuaries must sterilize all dogs or cats in their custody. Fees and civil penalties for violations of the new provision would also be deposited into the proposed Animal Rescue Remediation Fund.

The bill also provides that the Iowa Attorney General or any county attorney may bring a criminal action in order to enforce the new provisions of the bill. It also states a court may provide injunctive relief, as well.

The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and Iowa Voters for Companion Animals have declared their support for SF 168. The Cedar Rapids Kennel Association has declared it is against the proposed legislation.