By CAITLIN DeLUCA
Capital News Service
LANSING — Lawmakers are considering the creation of a new Animal Welfare Commission.
The commission would adopt new rules for licensing and inspections for breeders.
Its membership would include one member of an animal rescue organization, a U.S. Department of -Agriculture-accredited veterinarian, an academic who specializes in animal welfare, someone representing a statewide hunting organization, two dog breeders and the director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The sponsor ll in the Senate is Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. The House version’s primary sponsor is Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills.
Dog organizations have rallied against the bills.
“We’re concerned that this commission would be adding another layer of regulations to an already very regulated environment,” said Bob Darden, president of the Michigan Association for Purebred Dogs.
Large kennels are regulated by the USDA, the Michigan dog law of 1919, the Michigan penal code, regulations from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and many county, township and municipal ordinances on breeding, kennels and basic dog ownership, Darden said.
Darden said this won’t just affect the breeders, but dog owners, kennel owners and even the taxpayer as well.
“It wouldn’t be just breeders. Kennel owners and all dog owners would be affected due to added regulation,” Darden said.
“One of major issues is, aside from additional layer of regulation, it’s just not in our best interest, not even in Michigan taxpayers’ interest. Non-dog owners would be affected because if this is accepted, we think MDARD would have to enforce it,” Darden said.
Darden said MDARD doesn’t have enough money to handle extra enforcement, so that would be levied on taxpayers.
Kim Cochran, vice-president of Protect MI Dogs, said that MDARD’s ability to enforce is already subpar.
“Historically, MDARD has ceded its responsibilities to local municipalities because they don’t have the money,” Cochran said. They are already supposed to be inspecting pets but they haven’t done that in a long time, so how will they do that for breeders? We just don’t think it’s a viable idea.”
Jennifer Holton, communications director for MDARD, said, “This is an important conversation, but the department isn’t sure if legislation is necessary to accomplish the task.”
Both Darden and Cochran say they’re worried the bill could advance.
“There is always the concern that if the idea is out there, someone could shove it through,” Cochran said.
The House version now moves to the Senate, and the Senate version has now moved to the House.
By CAITLIN DeLUCA