Shea-Porter Asks Governor Sununu to Strengthen Animal Protection Laws After Wolfeboro Puppy Mill Case
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today wrote to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu regarding the need for stronger state animal protection laws following last month’s discovery of inhumane conditions at an unregistered Great Dane puppy mill in Wolfeboro.
“New Hampshire’s laws would better protect animals if they included a reasonable threshold for the number of dogs permitted for breeding before being subject to inspection, and also mandated the use of unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with the law,” wrote Shea-Porter. “Such an update could help prevent situations like the one in Wolfeboro from recurring.”
Photo credit: Meredith Lee, Humane Society of the United States
Shea-Porter’s letter asks the Governor to work with the state legislature to reevaluate New Hampshire’s relatively lax animal breeding regulations. Her letter notes 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 – an extremely permissive standard. The letter also asks the Governor to examine the state’s legal framework for who is responsible for the cost of caring for animals that are evidence in a criminal proceeding, such as the 84 Wolfeboro Great Danes. In other states, these costs are often borne by the offending party.
The full text of Shea-Porter’s letter:
July 20, 2017
The Honorable Christopher T. Sununu
Office of the Governor
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Governor Sununu:
As you know, on June 16th, the Wolfeboro Police Department entered a mansion as part of an animal cruelty investigation into a suspected puppy mill. The reports of what they found are highly disturbing and highlight the need for a thorough review of New Hampshire’s current laws and regulations on the humane treatment of animals.
Animal waste covered the walls and floors. The smell of ammonia overwhelmed the animal rescue workers who were provided by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Conway Area Humane Society, and the Pope Memorial SPCA in Concord. Trapped inside, eighty-four Great Danes were living a place entirely unfit for them or any other animal. This case of extreme cruelty could have been avoided, or alleviated much sooner, if New Hampshire had a stronger commercial breeder law on the books. I urge you to support an upgrade of state policies related to commercial dog breeding operations, so that our state does not have a recurrence of a serious animal welfare problem that has shocked our state.
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. I encourage you to work with the legislature to review these regulations and make any appropriate changes that would prevent such an appalling situation from again arising.
New Hampshire’s laws would better protect animals if they included a reasonable threshold for the number of dogs permitted for breeding before being subject to inspection, and also mandated the use of unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Such an update could help prevent situations like the one in Wolfeboro from recurring. Inspections are the best tool for preventing small problems from festering and becoming outright crises. Regular, unannounced inspections would result in fewer severe cases, and allow breeders to correct potential future concerns before they get out of hand.
I respectfully request that you also review New Hampshire’s legal framework for dealing with the substantial costs associated with caring for animals rescued from cruelty situations. The HSUS is absorbing the costs to rehabilitate and care for the Great Danes through the duration of the criminal investigation, in part as a service to the town of Wolfeboro. Neither the HSUS nor New Hampshire’s private animal shelters are required to perform this public service, and were they unable to continue this practice, Granite State taxpayers would be on the hook.
Under Governor Lynch, the Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals was established to educate law enforcement personnel about existing cruelty laws and to educate the public to recognize and report animal abuse. The Commission was also charged with suggesting legislation necessary to ensure the welfare of domestic animals in the Granite State and with researching solutions to the enormous financial burden that animal cruelty cases places on New Hampshire taxpayers and non-profit animal protection organizations. I believe reestablishing the Commission in light of the recent event in Wolfeboro, and including relevant stakeholders on the Commission, would be an excellent first step.
I look forward to hearing your proposals for addressing this problem as well. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress