Charlie Crist co-sponsors pair of puppy protection bills – Florida Politics

Charlie Crist co-sponsors pair of puppy protection bills

Charlie Crist is co-sponsoring two bills aimed at protecting puppies by improving standards for federally licensed commercial dog breeders.

“The Bible teaches us to care for all of God’s creatures, and that includes man’s best friend,” said the St. Petersburg Democratic congressman. “I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation that protects dogs from unprincipled dealers and breeders, providing a voice for the voiceless.”

Crist is working with Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick on proposals aimed at strengthening the Animal Welfare Act, which is meant to ensure dogs in federally licensed facilities are treated humanely, but which critics charge falls woefully short.

The two legislators are introducing the Puppy Protection Act, which creates stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, breeding practices, and specific standards for socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs.

They are also sponsoring the WOOF! Act, which would prohibit the USDA from issuing commercial breeding licenses to individuals or shell companies directly connected to dealers of dogs who have had their licenses suspended or revoked.

Like the Puppy Protection Act, the bill will not impact family pets, livestock, or hobbyist breeders.

“It’s crucial we stand up for animals — both as individuals and as a society. That means strengthening important regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to meet this goal,” says Fitzpatrick. “As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”

The bills also have a buy-in from the animal rights community.

“No dog should spend her entire life in a tiny cage, her paws never touching grass, outside and exposed to frigid temperatures and winds, and bred so relentlessly that her body eventually wears out,” says Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society. “Some puppy mill operators game the system and register their mill under a different name after they are cited for animal welfare violations.

“These two bills will prevent that trickery and also strengthen the standards of care for hundreds of thousands of dogs on commercial breeding facilities.”

“The bills introduced by Representatives Fitzpatrick and Crist would significantly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs kept in inhumane conditions by federally licensed commercial breeders,” adds Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.
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