Utah bill draws public concern for local animal regulation
Protestors and their dogs gathered on the steps of the Utah state capitol building Thursday to speak out against a bill modifying cities’ ability to regulate puppy mills.
Sponsored by Rep. Joel Ferry, House Bill 476 is designed to forbid local governments from enforcing rules prohibiting the operation of animal shops and usages of working animals. This would mean that puppy mills and pet stores would be drastically affected by the bill due to governments needing to enforce only state and federal laws.
According to Rachel Heatley, an advocacy director at Humane Society of Utah, advocates are concerned over the bill creating a “carte blanche” for pet stores and puppy mills throughout the state and even throughout the country. Concerns over breeders taking advantage over the bill and turning breeding into reputable businesses have drawn some concerns.
Because the bill plans on taking local control from the situation, advocates for animal rights such as Ian Williams, president of the Utah Animal Control Officers’ Association, fear what could come out of losing animal regulation. Gene Davis, manager of the Senate Minority Caucus plans on fighting against the bill in the Senate alongside his colleagues who have fought for animal rights throughout the Legislature.
In a house vote on Tuesday, the bill passed with a vote of 43-28 and waits for a final vote in the Senate.