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INDIANAPOLIS — A new bipartisan bill in the state house aims to curb puppy mills while helping animal rescue services in the process.

House Bill 1160 will bar pet stores from selling dogs or cats unless they come from a shelter or rescue facility. The bill was authored by Democratic State Representative Chris Campbell and co-authored by Republican State Representative Tom Saunders.

“I think Indiana is among, if not the highest state, with the most puppy mills throughout the state,” tells Representative Campbell, “Anyone who has a pet in their life knows how important those animals are, and they want to make sure they are loved, cared for and healthy.”

“We were just trying to find a way to get homes for those animals,” says Representative Tom Saunders, “Are we going to put the puppy mills out of business or private breeders? No, but we are shining a light on the issue.”

Puppy mills have long drawn the ire of animal lovers as well as animal rescue facilities and shelters.

“Typically they are just turning out as many puppies as they can, and when that happens, quality of care tends to go down. Health and safety of the animals tends to go down,” explains Megan Davis, Director of Training and Communications Hamilton County Humane Society, “When people talk puppy mills, often you picture the Sarah McLachlan video in the backyard, and they are in these dirty cages. Many times that is the condition they are in.”

This push comes as some area shelters are seeing surging intake numbers. Davis says the Hamilton County Humane Society usually takes in 3,000 animals a year, but in 2021, they took in 4,000. They now have some of their animals in Petco and Pet Smart.

“A lot of times those cats get adopted faster there because there are less animals there. You aren’t looking at 40. You are looking at six or seven. It helps people narrow down their options, so you don’t get option paralysis,” adds Davis, “They are also not surrounded by 80 other dogs barking all of the time, so it could help their personalities shine through.”

Representative Saunders says the bill has yet to reach a committee. Representative Campbell urges Hoosiers to contact the commerce committee to push them to hear the bill.