Commercial dog breeding would be subject to inspections and require a license under a bill to be taken up Friday morning in the state House Agriculture committee.
Republican Representative Jim Sorvillo sponsored the bill and said the measure will help bring Arkansas’s protections up to par with neighboring states.
“What we don’t want is an animal that stays in a cage confined from six months to eight or ten years and that’s all they do,” said Sorvillo.
Another west Little Rock Republican sitting on the committee, Representative Andy Davis, said he hasn’t determined yet how he’ll vote. But Davis said as a conservative, he has concerns.
“Some kind of license requirement may not be a bad idea. Of course, the overall mood of this session has been anti-licensure and anti-fee. This bill includes one license, two fees, and inspections that are more or less unregulated,” said Davis.
Committee Chair Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, is also uncertain how he will cast his vote.
“Nobody wants to see any animal abused whether it be a dog, a cat, or animal livestock. But we have to make sure that the language of the bill is appropriate,” said Douglas.
Sorvillo said the Arkansas Farm Bureau is lobbying legislators to vote against the bill, in part because of a concern protections for dogs might encourage animal welfare legislation for livestock. This is something Sorvillo said he is not interested in.
“Let me say this, even though the Farm Bureau has lobbied hard against us there was never any intention for us to attack farmers,” said Sorvillo.
The Farm Bureau’s vice president of public relations Steve Eddington e-mailed the following to describe the efforts of the organization’s 16 lobbyists (one of which is the son of a representative sitting on the House Agriculture committee).
“It has not been a priority for us this session. We have raised some concerns about the bill, given our current cruelty laws.”
Sorvillo, who is generally anti-regulation, characterized the extent of abuse in Arkansas’s dog breeding sites, branded"puppy mills" as requiring intervention.