Livestock Industry Held Its Own in 2009 Legislative Session

Tight restrictions on puppy mill bill seen as good news.

Published on: May 29, 2009

Columnists for the Indianapolis Star and commentators on WIBC radio in Indianapolis can laugh at legislators and those talking to them who dared to utter that the puppy mill bill was actually a first step in a deliberate plan to move toward a meatless America if they want to. Both of these reporting sources termed such views as 'ridiculous.'

 

Keegan Poe knows better. The livestock producer and regional manager for Indiana Farm Bureau in central Indiana lays out the game plan that animal industry experts are convinced that the Humane Society of the United States and other groups are taking whenever they begin a fight to win victories in a state.

 

"To them it wasn't about puppy mills," Poe told Farm Bureau board members at a recent meeting, It was about getting a foothold in Indiana.: Since Indiana is not a ballot-initiative state, any serious changes in laws concerning how animals are housed or handled would have to come from the legislature.

 

Anyone who checks out HSUS Web sites would be hard pressed to argue with Poe. One-sided video clips, many using the same images shot in other clips, leave no doubt about what HSUS thinks about the meat industry. Their spokespersons may try to argue otherwise when put on the spot, as they were on WIBC recently, and present the image of a group that just cares about animals. But leaders of HSUS portray a totally different message when talking to their own folks, or to an audience they believe to be friendly.

 

In the end, the puppy mill bill, which Poe would rather call a bill to protect dogs in dog breeding operations, passed and was signed into law. But it was hardly a victory for HSUS. Bob Kraft, senior legislative specialist for IFBF, who also believes their true goal was to open the door to further legislation related to animals in the future.

 

The original bill was very vague, Poe noted, and would have made working with groups like HSUS that really wanted to tighten down animal cruelty standards in other species very difficult. The door would have definitely been open for HSUS to take another step toward an ultimate goal, going after sow crates or some other worthy target, Poe says.

 

That's not what happened. The bill that finally passed was very specific. It does what innocent people who really think the fight was about puppy mills wanted it to do in the first place. Bad actors, those that truly abuse dogs by unscrupulous breeding practices, should be the only ones truly affected.

 

Attention is now focused squarely on Ohio, which does have a ballot initiative process. Animal industry people there suspect some sort of animal welfare issue could be on the ballot by next year. Sources there are buoyed by the fact that HSUS met significant resistance in Indiana, and didn't accomplish what they set out to accomplish, Kraft says.