Danbury lawmakers push for ‘puppy mill’ bill
HARTFORD — Less than four weeks after a fire threatened 86 puppies and dogs, most of the Danbury delegation has united behind a bill to limit where pet stores can get the animals they sell.
The bill, proposed by Reps. Raghib Allie-Brennan, D-Bethel, and Jason Doucette, D-Manchester, would prohibit pet shops from selling or trading dogs or cats that are not sourced from animal welfare organizations or animal control units.
“People have tried to bring this up several times in other sessions and it’s just failed, but us young’uns in the General Assembly are hopeful,” said Allie-Brennan, 27. “I’ve been targeting every legislator whether these pet stores are across the state and I am trying to lobby them on.”
The goal of the bill is to shut down so-called “puppy mills” and “kitten factories,” large-scale commercial facilities that breed animals. Allie-Brennan said the bill would not affect smaller, “reputable” breeders who often sell their animals directly to customers.
The early version of the bill does not, however, attempt to define “puppy mills” or “kitten factories.”
Of the seven member delegation, five are co-sponsoring the bill with Allie-Brennan. Rep. Richard Smith, R-New Fairfield, said he was not behind the measure.
“I support the protection of all animals, but cannot support the overly broad language of the bill at this time,” he said.
On January 3, concern about animal distributors grew when a fire in Danbury prompted the rescue of 86 dogs from the pet seller Puppy Love.
“That’s the exactly the kind of situation this bill is intended to deal with,” said Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury.
There have been no public allegations that the company engaged in any improper behavior. The fire started at an adjacent storage facility used by a utility company. The website of the family-owned Puppy Love says the company works closely with breeders and it operated by owners on-site every day.
Godfrey’s family owned a pet shop in Bethel in the 1960s and 70s, he said.
“When my dad bought it, the dogs that were being sold by the previous owners were only bought from local breeders, and I got to learn the difference between breeders who care and love dogs and people who are just trying to make money quickly. And that stuck with me,” Godfrey said. “I’ve become appalled over the years that the industry has changed so much for the worse.”
The proposed bill is modeled after a California law that took effect this month, which bars pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless they come from animal shelters or rescue groups. California was the first state in the nation to pass such legislation. Maryland passed a similar law that will take effect in 2020.
“As a dog owner myself, I am happy to support initiatives that help to ensure that pets are treated safely and humanely,” said Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield.
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