INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A House committee unanimously endorsed a bill Wednesday
that would require retail pet stores to give buyers information about a
pet’s background and medical history before selling a dog or cat.
Supporters said the legislation is critical to protect consumers looking for
a family pet. The bill would require pet stores to put information about the
dog or cat on its cage in the store — including the animal’s medical
history, the name of the breeder and any congenital disorders. Customers
could get other information, including the address and size of the breeding
operation, upon request or when they buy a dog or cat.
Sarah Hayes, president of the Indiana Alliance of Animal Control and Welfare
Organizations, said pet stores often spin the truth about where they get
their dogs. Instead of saying animals come from large-scale breeding
operations, a pet store may tell a customer that the dog simply came from a
“local” breeder, she said.
“Local can be a puppy mill also,” she said. “If pet stores are telling the
truth that their animals do not come from puppy mills, they should have
nothing to hide and shouldn’t have a problem with simply posting this
Supporters said they’ve heard from many people who buy dogs and cats at pet
stores and are then stuck with huge vet bills — or faced with euthanizing
the animal — when serious health problems are found.
But opponents — including Indiana pet stores — said the rules are unfair and
would be a hardship on their businesses. Craig Curry, special projects
manager for Uncle Bill’s Pet Centers, said the company’s five stores in
Indiana already give pet information to customers when they buy a dog or
cat. And the stores guarantee the health of the animals, he said.
But Curry said it wasn’t a good idea to release information about breeders
before a customer buys a dog or cat because some animal rights extremists
could use that information to harass or hurt breeders. “We are so terrified
that we are going to get people hurt,” Curry said.
Other opponents said giving the name of the breeder could provide a shortcut
for the customer, who could then go to the breeder to buy a dog rather than
purchase from the pet store.
The original proposal included a $25 fee for every dog and cat sold at a pet
store, but that provision was removed after stores called it a tax that
would cut into their profits and hurt business.
The bill would also increase the penalty for attending a dog fight in
Indiana from a misdemeanor to a felony.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee voted 11-0 for the bill, which
now moves to the full House for consideration.