May 9, 2023 - News

Iowa's puppy mill violations lead the nation

Illustration of dog treats spelling out “HELP”.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

More than a third of the nation's dog and cat breeder or broker violations occurred in Iowa during the first quarter of 2023.

  • That's according to a review of federal data published by Bailing Out Benji, a national animal-welfare organization based in the state.

Why it matters: Iowa continues to host the nation's most problematic puppy-for-profit pipelines, selling mistreated pets to unsuspecting owners.

  • Hundreds of animals, mostly dogs, were discovered in inhumane conditions with one breeder charged on multiple counts of animal neglect, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.

By the numbers: Of 303 federal violations cited between January and March, 107 were committed by Iowa dog breeders.

  • Of the states with the most breeders cited, Iowa had 26. Missouri was second with 19.

What they're saying: Iowa's perennial puppy mill problem is partly because the facilities are regulated more like those for livestock rather than for domestic pets, Joe Stafford, director of animal services at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, tells Axios.

  • Colorado alleviated problems by better informing consumers with information about breeders, he noted.

State of play: Iowa lawmakers from both parties have pushed for fixes.

  • U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn, a Republican, in March reintroduced a bill nicknamed "Goldie's Act," — a proposal from Cindy Axne, his Democratic predecessor.
  • That bill, named in memory of an Iowa dog who was euthanized after suffering from puppy mill neglect, would tighten regulatory oversight.

Of note: Hundreds of U.S. cities and several states have passed laws to end or regulate the retail sale of pets.

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