GREENWICH, Conn. -- The state has put more teeth into animal protection due to a new law covering puppy mills, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday at a bill-signing ceremony held in front of the Greenwich Animal Shelter.
"There is evidence that puppy mills around the country have employed practices that any reasonable person would consider less than humane," Malloy told a crowd of about three dozen people at the sun-baked event. "By signing this bill into law, we are setting standards at Connecticut pet shops and breeders to ensure that animals are treated humanely and we are leading the way to get this done."
The bill, Public Act 14-77, increases the accountability of pet stores through increased standards and accountability.
Malloy, who said that he and his wife, Cathy, have two Jack Russell Terriers, stopped in at pet stores during discussion of the legislation to get different viewpoints.
Malloy also praised the pet store industry for its role in supporting the bill.
Fairfield state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-132nd District, said there is a moral responsibility to care for animals in distress.
"As a civilized society I think we have a moral responsibility, a moral obligation to those who have no voice and cannot speak for themselves, who are in agony and are being treated inhumanely and can do nothing about it. They need us to stand up and I am proud of the people who stood up."
She also praised state Sen. Bob Duff, D-25th District, for his work as her co-chair on the state's Taskforce on the Sale of Cats and Dogs from Inhumane Origins at Connecticut Pet Shops.
Duff, who represents Darien and Norwalk, returned the praise, calling Kupchick was a driving force behind the bill. He said the bill reflects the state's commitment to animal care.
"This bill speaks to the values that we have in the state of Connecticut and how we treat our four legged friends," Duff said. "Connecticut is already a leader in our animal welfare laws. This new law will help us to even make us more of a model throughout the nation."
Greenwich state Rep. Fred Camillo, R-151st District, a noted pet lover, also praised the new law.
"It's a common sense bill and it's the right thing to do," he said as he thanked Malloy for being a "pro-animal welfare governor."
The law comes into effect Oct. 1 and will require the state Commissioner of Agriculture to develop a standard of care applicable to in-state dog and cat breeders by Dec. 31.
It prohibits pet shop licensees from purchasing dogs or cats from a breeder who has violated U.S. Department of Agriculture animal welfare regulations in the past two years and increases the fine for violating related requirements.
It will also require pet shops to reimburse customers for veterinarian expenses incurred to treat a dog or cat that becomes ill shortly after purchase from the shop. The reimbursement now covers the purchase price of the animal and veterinarian costs.
Pet shops will also have to post the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports for breeders of any dog offered for sale.