Michigan Lawmaker Pitches Bill to Crack Down on Puppy Mills

The bill aims to phase out the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.

By Michigan Advance

June 27, 2023

BY KYLE DAVIDSON, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

LANSING—State Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) introduced a bill last week that would phase out the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores to combat inhumane breeding operations. 

According to a statement from Tsernoglou’s office, the “Puppy Protection Bill” (House Bill 4838) is aimed at ending the puppy mill to pet store pipeline and will push Michigan’s pet market to more humane options like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders. It was introduced on Thursday.

State Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing)

“My legislation to phase out the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores will protect animals from inhumane breeding conditions and ensure Michigan consumers are no longer duped into buying cruelly bred, sick or genetically-disordered pets,” Tsernoglou said. “Pet stores routinely rely on inhumane breeding practices to procure dogs, cats and rabbits. It’s against the values of our pet-loving state to let this continue.”

If passed, Michigan would join Illinois, New York, Maryland, Maine, Washington, and California in enacting retail pet sale bans. The policy also mirrors ordinances in Ann Arbor, Eastpointe, Fraser, New Baltimore, Royal Oak, Harbor Springs, St. Clair Shores, and Woodhaven.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, Michigan is among the top 10 states for pet store consumer complaints. Consumers reported spending thousands of dollars on puppies and deceptive sales tactics. Complaints also included purchasing puppies that were sick or dying and required expensive veterinary care, and being convinced to finance puppies only to be met with undisclosed high interest rates.

Public records show that hundreds of puppies have been imported since 2021 to Michigan pet stores from Midwest puppy mill breeders and brokers. In the last two years, Michigan pet stores have purchased puppies from puppy mills cited for filthy conditions, denying veterinary care to dogs with gapings wounds, and allowing dogs to kill a litter of puppies within their enclosures.

Michigan shelters have also faced an overcrowding crisis in recent years, as counties spend millions in taxpayer dollars on animal control services including shelter, euthanizing unwanted animals, and sometimes providing assistance having animals spayed or neutered. 

“We applaud Rep. Tsernoglou for introducing this humane pet store bill to shut down the puppy-mill-to-petstore pipeline in Michigan once and for all,” said Blake Goodman, Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “This policy will ensure that mother dogs are no longer treated like breeding machines so their puppies can be sold to unsuspecting Michigan consumers.”

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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