On Feb. 11, several hundred animal advocates converged on Topeka to raise their voices on behalf of companion animals in Kansas, advocating for changes to the Kansas Pet Animal Act. Two bills are currently in committee in the Senate that address upgrading the KPAA to the benefit of companion animals.
S.B. 397, also known as the "advocates bill" will strengthen the KPAA by making these changes:
- Changing "you may inspect" to "you shall inspect" to require the Dept. of Agriculture to inspect breeder licensees (this has been optional under the current law as it is written)
- Allows inspectors to view veterinary records of USDA licensed kennels
- Requires USDA kennels to follow the Kansas Pet Animal Act
- Allows mobile adoption for shelters and rescues
- Allows pet animal foster homes under shelters and rescues
- Bans the use of CO (gas) chambers to euthanize cats and dogs in Kansas
This is the bill in the Humane Society of the United States' call to action for Kansans.
The second bill, S.B.392, was drafted by the Agriculture Committee, but lacks some of the protections included in S.B. 397. Midge Grinstead, state coordinator for the HSUS, testified at the hearing last week for S.B.392 to advocate for changes to bring it in line with S.B. 397 to include: veterinary checks, adoption of FIV cats, and lower fee caps for shelters and rescues. Grinstead also noted that the Dept. of Agriculture bill will "be keeping records for the entire time a person is licensed plus five years." She said there is another hearing on this bill early tomorrow, Feb. 25. No hearings have been held yet on S.B. 397.
In May of last year, Kansas was in third place with 11 problem puppy mills on the list of 100 worst from across the country issued by the HSUS. Puppy mills made the list because they had received multiple citations from the USDA, having more than 100 dogs on the property, and lack of veterinary care or veterinary care provided by someone who was not a licensed veterinarian, among other criteria.
It has been 29 years since the KPAA was passed and much has changed since then, including increased awareness of the cruelty inherent in puppy mills, a lowered public tolerance for cruelty towards animals, and a growing advocacy contingency.
You have the opportunity now to help these changes become law. You can join the action on the HSUS web site to send a message to the Senators on the Agriculture Committee, call your senator and/or key members of the committee, or email your senator directly.
In the Wichita area, Carolyn McGinn (31st District) Carolyn.McGinn@senate.ks.gov; Steve Abrams, 32nd District, Cowley/Kingman Counties (including Mulvane) Steve.Abrams@senate.ks.gov; and Dan Kerschen, Sedgwick (26th District) Dan.Kerschen@senate.ks.gov are on the Agriculture Committee. If you are outside the Wichita/South central Kansas area, these are the other members of the Committee:
- Garret Love, 38th District, Seward, KS
- Marci Francisco, 2nd District, Douglas/Jefferson Counties
- Elaine Bowers, 36th District, North Central Kansas
- Tom Hawk, 22nd District, Riley/Geary Counties
- Mitch Holmes, 33rd District, Pratt/Burton Counties
- Forrest Knox, 14th District, Montgomery/SE Kansas
- Ralph Ostmeyer, 40th District, Northwest Kansas
- Larry Powell, 39th District, Garden City
You can look up your specific Senator who is not on the committee and contact him/her regarding the bill even though it has not yet left the committee. We all have the opportunity in our hands to strengthen the KPAA now. It just takes a few minutes to affect the lives of companion animals in Kansas and move our state one step closer to stricter regulation of puppy mills.