Public hearing at state capitol on puppy mill legislation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Emotions run high at public hearing on dog-breeder legislation

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A dog rescued from the Thyme and Sage Ranch in May 2009 A dog rescued from the Thyme and Sage Ranch in May 2009

MADISON (WKOW) --  Lawmakers say Wisconsin is now a magnet for those wanting to sell puppies without regulation.

A bill meant to protect animals from abuse took center stage at the state capitol Wednesday.

Lawmakers held a public hearing on the Commercial Dog Breeder's License Bill: which could essentially put an end to so-called puppy mills.

The bill would require anyone selling 25 or more animals at a time be licensed with the state. They would also be subject to inspections. In the last decade, all previous attempts at similar legislation have failed.

For more than three hours, legislators listened to dozens of supporters of the bill.. and a few who oppose it.

Penny Evans spoke up in support of the bill. She bought her dog Kasey from the Thyme and Sage Ranch in Richland County, an animal rescue shelter that was raided this summer by inspectors. Kasey lived with the Evans family for only five days, before a doctor discovered she had PARVO, a viral disease that can be fatal to puppies.

Penny Evans recounted her last conversations with the vet after Kasey went in. She says, "I didn't hear from him on Sunday and I knew that wasn't a good thing. Monday morning he calls and he says, 'Penny I'm sorry but Kasey died.' I didn't know what to do, because I expected her to come home."

She added, "Today, is crucial. It's not going to do anything for Kasey... but it's going to stop the next rescue that's going as a rescue but its a puppy mill broker and a business, making money on the blood of these animals, it's gotta stop."

Joyce Ellenbecker came to the Capitol from Wood County. She usually says she breeds about 24 dogs, but is still worried about the times she has more than 25. She says having an inspector come out, and having a license, would be an invasion of privacy.

Ellenbecker says, "Picking a number and saying that anything over that we're going to inspect and anything under this number we're not, all it's going to do is make criminals out of good people."

Interestingly enough, Consumer protection agents say they've thought the number over long and hard: for ten years, actually. They've come to the number of 25 dogs a year, because more than half of their complaints are about small, back-yard breeders, with less than 50 puppies.

Lawmakers are hoping a committee will vote on the joint bills in the coming months. They're hoping for a full-floor vote in the fall.

For more information, click on the links to the left of this story.

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