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State Rep. defends 'puppy mill' bills, says misinformation has lead to criticism

Michigan Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, said two bills he's authored currently sitting on Gov. Rick Snyder's desk are being distorted as a result of misinformation. (SBG/MGN Online)

Michigan Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, said two bills he's authored currently sitting on Gov. Rick Snyder's desk are being distorted as a result of misinformation.

HB 5916 and HB 5917 are an effort at tightening the regulations imposed on pet stores with regards to where they can get puppies to sell to consumers. Vaupel said the new laws forces Michigan pet shops to obtain dogs bred at breeders licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He said the bills also give the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development regulatory and enforcement power over pet stores and the puppy supply.

The Kalamazoo Humane Society said the laws take power away from local governments to regulate pet stores, ban them and protect consumers from puppy mills.

"Having worked at the shelter, having been an animal enforcement officer, and now working at the humane society, this is bad news," said Julie Barber with the Kalamazoo Humane Society. "Everyone wants to help animals, and this bill ... you're actually taking away the ability for local municipalities to help animals and that's not an animal welfare plus, that's definitely a set back."

Vaupel said that simply isn't true.

While the laws give the state agriculture department extra power, Vaupel said, local municipalities can still inspect and enforce laws if pet stores are in violation of state regulations.

"If there's sanitation issues or even health issues with a pet shop, the local unit can still do the enforcement," Vaupel said.

The second bill would prohibit local municipalities from "arbitrarily" banning pet stores. Vaupel said that's another thing people don't understand.

Barber said taking away a city's ability to ban pet stores will lead to more shops that sell dogs coming from puppy mills.

Vaupel said the law only prohibits local municipalities from banning pet stores that are not in violation of any of the state regulations. He told Newschannel 3 that if a prospective or existing pet shop owner has followed the law and isn't violating the standards set by the new regulations, they should be protected.

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