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Taking a look at Iowa breeder laws after Worth Co. dogs were rescued

Could the penalties be changing for those who are convicted for cruelty to animals?

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 9:30 PM
Updated: Nov 14, 2018 7:20 AM

MANLY, Iowa- A day after the Worth County Sheriff’s Office and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued around 170 Samoyed dogs ranging in age from elderly to only a few weeks old, we are looking in to Iowa’s breeder law.

According to the Worth County Sheriff’s Office, the owner of White Fire Kennel, Barb Kavars, was once licensed to breed the dogs through the USDA and the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

KIMT News 3’s Brian Tabick spoke to the Iowa Department of Ag Tuesday. They said they inspected White Fire Kennel a number of times over the summer, ultimately deeming the facility inadequate in July. That’s when the Sheriff’s Office and the ASPCA were forced to take the animals. But those with the Ag Department say that doesn’t mean Kavars had to stop breeding dogs because she still has a valid state license until she is convicted of a crime.

As for the background of Kavars’ USDA license, it gets a little more difficult to look into the background. According to the USDA’s website, they only show inspections from late December of 2015 until 2017. When we called the USDA for more information they told us to FOIA, which would mean a significant amount of time before we get the information we are looking for.

We reached out to a number of Iowa lawmakers Tuesday and got various responses surrounding Iowa’s Breeding facilities.

“There is no real teeth in any of it,” said State Representative Sharon Steckman.

Rep. Steckman said the House has been working to pass legislation for the last several years to make changes to the law.

“Raise the penalties for abuse of animals from a simple misdemeanor to a misdemeanor,” she said. “If there are serious injuries or death that is caused to the animals then it would be a Class D felony.”

She said House leaders pushed the bill to the Ag committee where it later died. We reached out to those who represent the area where the investigation took place; Senator Waylon Brown said he didn’t have much knowledge on the state’s breeder laws and Representative Jane Bloomingdale was out of town. Both declined to do an interview.

But there is headway on a bill in the Iowa Senate as well.

“Iowa Code is maybe not quite as clear as perhaps it could be,” said Iowa Senator Tom Shipley.

Senator Shipley of Adams County said they started working on this bill after a local boarding/training facility was found to have poor living conditions.

“Another senator and I have been working the county attorney on language that would potentially make it easier for county attorneys to prosecute people who commit cruelty to animals,” said Senator Shipley.

That means there could be two bills regarding the law during the next legislative session something Representative Steckman said she is looking forward to.

“I hope that this would wake people up,” she said.

Those with the Worth County Sheriff’s Office said they will not bring forth charges until they gather evidence and all of the dogs are assessed.

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