Opinion | Puppy fight! Michigan legislator says he’s the one protecting pets

Hank Vaupel is a Republican state representative from Fowlerville.

It’s disheartening to see groups that claim to have animal welfare in mind push so hard against bills that will raise the standards for pet safety and further protect animals in Michigan. And that’s exactly what House Bills 5916 and 5917 will do: protect Michigan pets.

A recent guest commentary that appeared in Bridge Magazine missed the mark on that front, peddling disingenuous – and often false – information about these essential bills. In fact, these House Bills will uniformly raise standards and requirements for pet stores, including: ensuring the necessary vaccinations; guaranteeing the pets are microchipped and of a certain age, and requiring USDA inspection reports from the breeder before they could acquire a single puppy.

Opinion: Can Michigan at least agree to protect puppies? Apparently not

Some will tell you that inspection reports are redacted and of little value, but that is downright false. Breeders would be required to supply the reports to the store, in their entirety, before they can purchase a single dog. Any major violations within the past two years would make it impossible for a breeder to engage in sales to a pet store. While implementing these safeguards, the bills also provide necessary protections for responsible local breeders and pet stores that are committed to pet safety.

Reputable pet stores want to see the end of puppy mills. Groups opposed to the bills claim that they have the same goal, yet instead of working toward a common cause, these groups singular purpose is to put all pet stores out of business instead of addressing the real problem, unscrupulous breeders.

Putting bad breeders and bad pet stores out of business should be a goal for everyone that loves puppies. In the process though, let’s recognize the responsible breeders and stores that pour their heart and soul into building safe and humane facilities, employ dozens of people and are ingrained in the fabric of local communities across the state.

If these Michigan small businesses are adhering to the highest standards, which HB 5916 and 5917 will ensure, why shouldn’t they be allowed to operate like any other regulated and licensed entity in their community? Many of the stores in Michigan are civic-minded businesses that give back to local charities and families, and place the highest priority on pet safety.

Unfortunately, rather than supporting these pivotal bills, groups that claim to be animal rights advocates are pressuring local city and county commissions to ban all pet retail sales, including by responsible small businesses. Local control is important, which is why there are provisions in these bills to allocate power to local animal control officials – but you would be hard-pressed to find another licensed business anywhere that cities are able to arbitrarily ban.

In the meantime, the truly bad breeders, such as large dog auctions and flea market sellers, continue to operate. HB 5916 and 5917 would put a stop to that.

Any group that is truly committed to shutting down disreputable breeders in Michigan should support these bills. I encourage you to visit ProtectMIPets.com to learn the real facts about the proposed legislation. By coming together to support this legislation, pet lovers in Michigan can ensure essential safeguards to protect our pets.

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Molly Tamulevich
Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:08pm

It’s funny that you would paint the animal welfare community, a group of people who dedicate an enormous amount of time, energy, and research to animal-related causes, as completely misguided in this manner. It’s almost like you didn’t consult with any animal welfare organizations when you penned this bill...

Snark aside, if the bills in question were actually beneficial to Michigan dogs, you’d be receiving a deluge of phone calls in support of them. The fact that they’re opposed by at least 20 Michigan shelters, rescues and outreach groups belies the fact that animals will not be benefitting from this legislation. These bills are Trojan Horses.

Coyote Windsong
Fri, 06/01/2018 - 3:01pm

As Molly Tamulevich points out, if this legislation was really going to protect animals, the rescue/animal welfare community would have been calling their legislators asking them to vote for it, but the truth is, these bills are designed to protect large scale breeders, often known as puppy mills. It's my understanding that Petland is involved in trying to push these bills through Lansing. Have they made any financial contributions to you, Representative Vaulpel? Are they also running the website you reference (ProtectMIPets.com) ? Just wondering. It looks like a bunch of Petland propaganda to me.