Senate Review from Senator James Leewright

Leewright has written legislation on what he calls a “common-sense approach to preventing animal abuse.

I think many Oklahomans are animal lovers, and they often consider their furry companions to be members of their family.  But there are competing views on the best way to prevent animal exploitation or cruelty when it comes to the pet business. I have authored legislation that I believe represents a common-sense approach to this issue.

This past week I won committee approval for legislation meant to better protect both pets and would-be-owners by creating reasonable, non-intrusive standards for pet stores in our state.  The legislation is Senate Bill 950, which creates the Pet Store Licensing Act which would be administered by the Department of Agriculture.

This legislation stipulates that dogs sold in pet stores must be from an animal rescue, shelter, or qualified breeder.  A qualified breeder is defined in the bill as a noncommercial or licensed commercial breeder for those in state, or an out-of-state breeder that’s licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meets their state’s licensing requirements and are in good standing under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The legislation sets up specific requirements for dogs sold in pet stores.  Puppies would have to be at least eight weeks old.  They would be required to have a certificate of veterinarian inspection and have an implanted microchip.  They could not be sold to an unaccompanied minor.  Also, in the case of non-rescue or shelter dogs, the store would have to provide written certification to the customer with the name and address of the breeder, USDA license number and, if applicable, an inspection report with the animal’s date of birth, date of arrival at the store, description, signed veterinary exam report and certification of information accuracy from the store management.

I want to point out that this bill has been endorsed by the American Kennel Club.  The AKC has stated that it shares public concerns about the wellbeing of all pets and responsible breeding practices.

This organization and others are very concerned about a movement to simply ban the sale of dogs from USDA-regulated professional breeders in pet shops—something pushed by extreme national activists groups like PETA. Instead of being able to set up health and consumer regulations that protect both the puppies and those who want to welcome a pet into their home, banning sells in pet stores altogether would remove these protections and would not result in closing a single “puppy-mill.”

This legislation would encourage the promotion of rescue dogs and still afford individuals the ability to still seek breeds they feel will be the best fit for their home and family—and that means reducing the chance that a pet will be returned to a shelter.

Senate Bill 950 will next be voted on by the full Senate.  I’m hopeful my fellow members will join me in voting yes on this measure, bringing it another step closer to the governor’s desk for his signature.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the State Capitol.  If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5528, or email leewright@oksenate.gov.

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