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Save the puppies

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Save the puppies

Arkansas has been identified by the Humane Society of the United States as one of the top 10 puppy-producing states, but that's not as warm and fuzzy a statistic as it sounds. It means, among other things, that Arkansas needs a state dog-breeder law to protect these puppies, according to the HSUS. Melanie Kahn, senior director of the puppy mill campaign for the HSUS, said the organization used several data sources in compiling its puppy-population estimates. One was the United States Department of Agriculture registry of commercial dog breeders. Breeders who sell to pet shops are required to have federal licenses and must meet certain standards of care. Breeders that sell on-line or by mail or phone or directly to consumers do not need a federal license. About half the states have state dog-breeding laws to cover these breeders, but Arkansas does not. Dog-breeding bills have been introduced in the Arkansas legislature, but failed.

Only a few years ago, after several years of trying, Arkansas animal lovers won passage of a broad animal-cruelty law by the legislature. That law makes repeated inhumane treatment of animals a felony. Dog-breeding laws apply specifically to "puppy mills," which are described by the HSUS as "inhumane dog-breeding facilities." The laws require breeders to meet certain requirements for the care of their animals.

"There are many problematic breeders in Arkansas that we are very concerned about," Kahn said. She declined to reveal their names because, she said, the HSUS is working with law enforcement authorities in investigating these breeders and doesn't want the investigations jeopardized.

The HSUS has established a reward program offering up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator for illegal animal cruelty. Informants can call 1-877-MILL-TIP and remain anonymous.

The ASPCA also is concerned about puppy mills. The organization said in a news release that it's working to remove puppy ads from Facebook, that it has placed hundreds of rescued puppy-mill victims in private homes, and that it is lobbying for a federal law that would extend federal regulation to those commercial breeders who don't sell to pet shops.

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