'Puppy Mill' bills go before Massachusetts legislative committee
Bills in Massachusetts seeking to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet shops went before a legislative panel on Beacon Hill on Wednesday.
Different versions of the proposal would prohibit new retailers from selling pets or would ban the practice entirely.
Supporters said animals bred in so-called "puppy mills" out of state are raised in substandard conditions and develop health and behavioral issues.
State Sen. Patrick O'Connor, R-Weymouth, is a sponsor of the legislation. He said this also presents a consumer protection issue.
"The Humane Society has reported that they receive large volumes of complaints every year from owners who have spent thousands of their own dollars in veterinary bills caring for sick puppies — when the store that sold the puppy likely knew of these issues and never told them."
But John Mellace a pet store owner, said the legislation would hurt those retailers who work with responsible breeders.
"I discuss standards protocols and accountability that makes sure that they are humanly raising healthy puppies," Mellace said.
Mellace said he offers those looking to buy a pet plenty in the way of warranties and guarantees when they make a purchase.
Springfield and Pittsfield are among 13 Massachusetts communities with local bans on retail pet sales. There have been other attempts to take such laws statewide, which have stalled out in the Legislature.
The proposal would not impact animal breeders who sell the pets they raise directly to customers.
The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday also took testimony on bills seeking to ban the sale of fur products and looking to further regulate conditions for animals at boarding kennels and pet daycare facilities.