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Plans for new animal cruelty bills

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In response to the recent Great Dane puppy mill in Wolfeboro, state Sen. Jeb Bradley is planning to sponsor legislation next year that tightens laws related to animal breeding and cruelty.

Click here to read NHPR coverage of the puppy mill. 

Costs of cruelty investigations

According to a report from the Conway Daily Sun, Bradley is examining two areas of New Hampshire law.  

First, he is interested in billing owners for care after an animal is seized, but before the owner is convicted of cruelty or neglect.  Under current state law towns are responsible for paying for the cost of animal care after an animal is seized. 

Click here to learn more about this issue. 

Breeder licensing laws

Second, Bradley is interested in lowering the threshold for licensing breeders.

Current state law defines a commercial breeder as “any person, business, corporation, or other entity that transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period.”

A stricter law might focus on the number of breeding females in the owner’s possession, rather than waiting for a certain number of puppies to be sold.  For example, Maine requires a license if a breeder owns five female dogs capable of breeding. 

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter supported such a change:

“It is my understanding that under existing law, dog breeders are required to be licensed with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture only if they sell 50 individual puppies or 10 litters in a year. This standard is extremely permissive, and lets major operators avoid regulation or inspection.” 

Do stricter laws drive breeders underground?

Opponents of stricter licensing laws often argue that when laws are too strict, good breeders are forced out of business.  Because the demand for dogs does not decrease, adopters then turn to out-of-state sources.  New Hampshire has no control over how these dogs are treated before they arrive in the Granite State, and adopters have little recourse if they later discover the dog they bought is sick.

Join the debate!

Do you think New Hampshire needs to change its laws to avoid a repeat of the puppy mill in Wolfeboro?  Share your opinion in the comments below. 


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One of the most repulsive acts an individual can commit is animal abuse. It is about time we start taking a look at the penalties for such an indefensible act.

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