HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- At first glance, a new bill working through the Alabama State Senate looks like an animal welfare bill set to regulate pet stores.
The first sentence of Senate Bill 183 synopsis reads: "This bill would provide the regulation of pet stores." It goes on to describe the protection consumers would have when buying pets from a retail store.
The CEO of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society says it's not what it looks like. "It is a bill that seeks to take away local authority, your local voice with your city council, to pass ordinances to stop irresponsible breeding practices," says Allison Black Cornelius.
The bill states it "reserves the regulations of pet stores to the state" and "puts pet stores under the license of the department of agriculture and industries."
When the Humane Society turned to them for help with puppy mill legislation, "We were told that AG was overburdened, under-resourced, didn't have the human and cash in resources to get involved in this kind of thing... yet, they are referenced in this bill," says Cornelius.
And similar bills to 183 have been introduced in other states around the country. Cornelius says "it was rejected in Georgia, it was rejected in Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska... because those folks were smart enough to know what they were seeing and they weren't going to take away your right to say 'No puppy mill puppies in my backyard.'"
To have your voice heard, you are encouraged to contact your local legislator.
WHNT News 19 has reached out to the sponsor of Senate Bill 183, Senator David Sessions of Mobile and has not received a response.