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Nebraska Mulls New Dog Breeder Regulations

Hearing set for Tuesday on legislation that would set care requirements for the state’s dog breeders.

A Nebraska bill that seeks to establish new regulations for the state’s commercial dog breeders is scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) claims the bill would adversely affect state breeders and is urging interested parties to make their voices heard by state lawmakers.

Legislative Bill 427 defines a commercial dog breeder as any person:

• who sells, exchanges, leases, or in any way transfers or offers to sell, exchange, lease, or transfer 31 or more dogs in a 12-month period beginning on April 1 of each year;
• who owns or harbors four or more dogs, intended for breeding, in a 12-month period beginning on April 1 of each year;
• whose dogs produce a total of four or more litters within a 12-month period beginning on April 1 of each year; or
• who knowingly sells, exchanges, or leases dogs for later retail sale or brokered trading, regardless of the number of animals.

Under this proposal, commercial dog breeders would be eligible to receive an “outstanding designation” from the state Department of Agriculture. To qualify, the breeder must pass all of the inspection components established by the department, keep all documentation regarding the health of the dog, including any documentation by a licensed veterinarian, meet all the new exercise requirements created by this bill without the use of the July 1, 2016 grace period, and meet new requirements pertaining to rest cycles between breeding, primary enclosures, exercise areas, dog socialization, dog bathing and cleanliness of facilities.

The bill would also establish the following health care requirements:

• Each dog’s health and welfare must be assessed and noted at least every 60days in the dog's health records, including body condition, such as appropriate weight, skin, coat, and nails, the dog's behavior, and the normalcy of the dog's eating, drinking, urination, and defecation.
• Each breeding dog must be implanted with a microchip and the microchip identification number shall be maintained with the dog's health records.
• Every dog over 6 months of age must have a veterinary medical examination at least every three years, including a dental examination. A written medical and dental care plan signed by a licensed veterinarian must be maintained with the dog's health records.
• Each regularly scheduled inspection must include a random sampling of at least five percent of the breeding dogs to examine each dog's individual medical and dental care plan.
• A female dog must be at least 12 months old but no more than 8 years old in order to be bred and cannot be bred more often than once every 12 months. The bill allows an exception if a breeder is authorized in writing by a veterinarian.
• Breeders must contact a licensed veterinarian “without delay” after an occurrence of a serious or life-threatening injury to or medical condition of a dog.
• Any ear cropping, surgical births, or other surgical procedures must be performed by a licensed veterinarian using anesthesia. The breeder may perform removal of a dogs dew claws or tail docking if such procedures are performed within the first five days of the dog’s life.
• Any dog that has had three Cesarean sections must have written approval from a licensed veterinarian before the breeder can breed such dog a fourth or subsequent time.
• If euthanasia is necessary, it must be performed by a licensed veterinarian using techniques at least as strict as those accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
• Each dog must be groomed at least once a month that includes brushing and detangling the coat and nail trimming.

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As previously noted, the bill provides a grandfather clause for the new exercise requirements. The clause allows existing facilities to postpone compliance with those provisions until July 1, 2016.

In an industry alert issued Jan. 27, PIJAC notes that a number of the provisions in LB 427 are inconsistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s requirements. Furthermore, PIJAC stated, these provisions have not been shown to be necessary for the health and humane treatment of dogs.

The state Agriculture Committee is slated to hear LB 427 on Feb. 8. Click here to view the bill in its entirety.

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