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Originally published Friday, January 1, 2010 at 12:51 PM

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New Washington law aims to ban puppy mills

A new law, designed to eliminate puppy mills in Washington state, imposes tougher standards on dog breeders.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

A new law, designed to eliminate puppy mills in Washington state, imposes tougher standards on dog breeders.

The law, which took effect New Year's Day, makes it illegal to own or have custody of more than 50 dogs capable of breeding and over the age of six months. It also spells out requirements for taking care of the dogs, including the size of their cages, temperature and cleanliness. If a breeder has 10 or more dogs at any one time, it requires that each dog have adequate time and space to exercise.

The Legislature approved the law last spring after several puppy mills were discovered in the state.

A year ago, authorities raided a home near Gold Bar where they rescued nearly 160 dogs, many with matted coats and serious health problems. Investigators found six puppy bodies in a freezer and more dead dogs in a garbage bin.

Two people who lived and worked at the home pleaded guilty in November to six counts each of first-degree animal cruelty.

"The hope is this will help prevent situations from arising that could lead to animal cruelty," said Mary Leake Schilder, spokeswoman for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society of Lynnwood.

"This will give law enforcement a little more leverage to prevent breeding facilities from getting out of hand. We believe this law is fair to responsible and compassionate breeders," she told The Herald of Everett.

Retail pet stores, veterinary facilities, boarding facilities and some others are exempt under the measure.

A similar law took effect Friday in Oregon.

Other new Washington laws for 2010 limit the dates when elections can be held and impose stricter regulations on the payday lending industry.

Previously, besides the August primary and November general elections, dates were set aside for special elections in February, March, April and May. Most often they were used for levies or bond issues for schools or public service districts.

The law eliminates the March date and reserves the May election to new bond issues and to tax levies that failed in the previous calendar year. In 2012, the May date is eliminated.

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The payday lending bill limits the size of such loans to 30 percent of a person's monthly income, or $700, whichever is less. It also bars people from having multiple loans from different lenders, limits the number of loans a person can take out to eight per 12 months, and sets up a database to track the number of loans taken out by people.

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Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

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