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Serving: IN

Caution - Animal Rights Groups at Work!

Keep your eyes on the puppy mill bill.

There's reportedly a billboard on Interstate 70 near Indianapolis that begs support for the so-called 'puppy mill' bill, still very much alive in the Indiana General Assembly. Brought forth reportedly to eliminate abuses in the dog breeding business, Indiana Farm Bureau claims the language is so vague that it would shut down the vast majority of legitimate dog breeders in Indiana.

Keegan Poe, a regional representative for Indiana Farm Bureau, says Indiana ranks second behind Missouri as the largest dog breeding state in the country. Many of the biggest breeding operations are run by Amish farmers in northern Indiana. Even though many are reportedly well-kept, with dogs well cared for, the vague language of the bill would shut them down.

Many of them aren't ignoring the threat, Poe reports. More than 100 have recently joined as Indiana Farm Bureau members. IFB opposes the bill. In a recent hearing in a legislative committee, about 20 people testified for the bill. Then Bob Kraft, an IFB observer in the legislature rose and condemned it as a horrible bill.

What worries Poe and others is that the vague language of House Bill 1468 leaves the door open for moving closer to regulating other species. It could be a short jump to tighter regulations for farm animals.

Meanwhile, the fact that the HBO show 'Death on a Factory Farm' airing roughly 18 times before April 1, was filed in Ohio is thought to be more than a coincidence. The show depicts alleged animal cruelty by the son of an owner of the hog farm. An undercover employee who really represents animal rights groups obtained the footage. Poe says that even though the farm operation was found not guilty of all but one minor charge, and has since taken training and instituted humane animal handling practices, the show will likely make a splash. Ohio is rumored to be the next state that animal rights activists will attack after their successful bid in California with Proposition Two. That ballot initiative, passed in November '08, will essentially eliminate California's poultry industry as it's now known by 2015. Currently, California is the number one poultry state in the country.

Ohio provisions allow for ballot initiatives. Indiana law does not. "Thank goodness for foresight from our forefathers not to trust important decisions to the people," quipped one farmer at a meeting recently. However, that still doesn't mean these groups won't come in through the back door. That's what's thought to be occurring with the animal cruelty bill, also known as the puppy mill bill.

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