New commercial pet breeder regulations advanced

Senators gave first-round approval April 21 to a bill that would change the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act.

LB360, introduced by Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson, would list the following as examples of “significant threat” to the health or safety of dogs or cats:
• not providing shelter or protection from extreme weather;
• refusing to seek treatment for acute injuries involving potentially life-threatening, hemorrhaging or medical emergencies;
• not providing food or water resulting in starvation or severe dehydration;
• egregious abuse resulting in trauma from beating, torturing, mutilating or burning; or
• failing to maintain sanitation standards that result in animals walking, lying or standing in feces.

“Some people say we’re not going far enough, some say we’re going too far,” he said. “What we’re attempting to do with this bill is to come to a middle road in order to provide the due process in the judicial system, if necessary, to handle the situation at hand.”

The bill also would establish an annual fee beyond the initial license fee, on a graduated schedule starting at $150 for facilities with up to 10 dogs or cats and up to $2,000 for facilities housing 500 or more animals.

An Agriculture Committee amendment, adopted 28-0, incorporated provisions of LB389, originally introduced by Heartwell Sen. John Kuehn. These would establish a re-inspection fee of $150, plus mileage charges necessary to complete the re-inspection.

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield said he was concerned that LB360 could represent the beginning of overregulation for livestock producers.

“If the regulations in this bill were imposed on a feedlot, the feedlot could not operate,” he said. “Let’s be careful as we move forward that we don’t open a door that we never intended to.”

Senators voted 26-0 to incorporate provisions of LB359, also introduced by Johnson, which would increase a fee remitted to the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Program Cash Fund from $1 to $1.25 per licensed animal.

Provisions of LB377, originally introduced by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman, also were incorporated on a 26-0 vote. The bill would establish a judicial process for owners whose animals have been impounded in cases of alleged neglect or abuse.

The amended bill advanced to select file on a 29-0 vote.

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