By Patrick Marley and Lee Bergquist on JSonline.com
"Frankly, when it comes to regulating dog breeders, we have fallen short of many other states - until today," Governor Doyle said. "We can't allow these bad actors to continue these practices here in Wisconsin."
Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday signed a bill to regulate large-scale canine breeding facilities, or puppy mills.
The new law puts Wisconsin on the same footing with most other states. Previously, Wisconsin had virtually no regulation or inspection program for dog breeders.
"Frankly, when it comes to regulating dog breeders, we have fallen short of many other states - until today," Doyle said. "We can't allow these bad actors to continue these practices here in Wisconsin."
The bill passed the Legislature unanimously in November and requires breeders who sell three litters or 25 or more dogs a year to get licensed by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The law also sets regulations to ensure dogs get adequate food, water and exercise and are provided safe enclosures. The department will inspect the facilities and can revoke licenses and impose penalties on breeders.
Wisconsin's lack of regulation turned the state into a magnet for puppy mills, said Doyle and those who have worked for 10 years to change state regulations for breeders.
"The puppy mills won't disappear overnight simply because of the new law," Eilene Ribbens, executive director of the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, said in a statement. "It will take years of work to clean up after a very cruel and abusive industry that flourished in Wisconsin during years with no regulation. We have much work ahead of us."