DATCP: Carrying out new dog protection law is topic for committee now forming

Contact: Donna Gilson 608-224-5130

Editors note: Wisconsin Act 90, the law regulating dog breeders and shelters, is available online at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/acts/09Act90.pdf.

MADISON — Groups that work with dogs can now nominate members to an advisory committee that will recommend rules to carry out a new law regulating dog breeders and animal shelters in Wisconsin.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection received the regulatory authority under a law passed and signed late last year. The 12-member advisory committee will recommend provisions for administrative rules that will actually put the law into practice, including standards of care for dogs and facility standards.

Members must be nominated by an organization involved in working with dogs; individuals who nominate themselves will not be considered. Members must be people who will be licensed under the new law, but must speak for their organization as a whole rather than their individual interests.

The advisory committee membership will include retail dog sellers, breeders who sell dogs either wholesale or retail, sporting groups, humane societies, animal control facilities and breed rescue groups.

The Department has mailed letters to dog clubs, animal shelters, sporting groups, breed organizations and others that would be eligible to nominate members. Groups that have not been contacted can call 608-224-4872 or email [email protected] to receive nomination materials. Nominations are due by Feb. 10.

“This group will meet about once a month from March through December, and we need members who can commit to be at all of those meetings. We’ll take the committee’s recommendations under advisement as we draft our rules,” said Dr. Yvonne Bellay, the Department’s veterinarian for humane issues. “We need to emphasize that this is not an opportunity to debate the law itself, or to recommend changes to the law’s provisions. All we are discussing at this stage is specific standards that breeders and facilities will need to meet in order to get and keep licenses.”

Public hearings on the proposed rules will be held in the spring of 2011, and the law will take effect June 1, 2011.

The new law requires licensing and inspection for breeders, retailers, shelters and pounds that sell or transfer at least 25 dogs a year. Breeders are exempt if they sell dogs from three or fewer litters in a year. The law also requires that puppies be at least 7 weeks old and certified by a veterinarian before sale. The rules are to set standards for housing, feeding, watering and exercise for the dogs in these facilities. License fees range from $125 to $1,000 a year, depending on the type of operation. Fees will pay for inspectors, compliance, veterinary, and clerical employees to run the program.