An Act Concerning Certificates of Origin for Dogs Sold by Pet Shop Licensees

Yesterday, there was a public hearing about bills before the Environment Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. Unfortunately, I could not attend this hearing since I was at the Government Administration and Elections Committee Public Hearing about the Citizens’ Election Program.

However, there was one bill that I’m very interested in hearing more about. It is An Act Concerning Certificates of Origin for Dogs Sold by Pet Shop Licensees. The goal of this bill is “To reduce costs associated with the administration of certificates of origin.”

Current Connecticut Law states:

Any dog sold or offered for sale by a pet shop licensee in this state shall be accompanied by a certificate of origin identifying the name and address of the person, firm or corporation that bred such dog and of any person, firm or corporation that sold such dog to such pet shop licensee. Such information contained in the certificate of origin shall be posted in a conspicuous manner not more than ten feet from the location where such dog is displayed for sale. A copy of such certificate shall be provided to the purchaser of such dog at the time of sale.

The proposed bill would replace the current requirement that the certificate of origin “shall be filed by such licensee with the Department of Agriculture not later than two days after such sale” with a requirement that

For a period of not less than one year after the date of issuance, each pet shop licensee shall retain an electronic or paper copy of any certificate of origin issued by such pet shop licensee to a purchaser. During such one-year period, each pet shop licensee shall make such electronic or paper copy available for inspection by the Department of Agriculture upon request by the department.

While I appreciate the desire to reduce administrative costs, especially during these times of major budget shortfalls, I question the wisdom of this proposed change. Currently, there are hundreds of dogs in municipal shelters across Connecticut. Just today, six more dogs were added to the City of Hartford Animal Shelter List. Any dogs unclaimed at the Hartford Shelter after ten days gets put to sleep. Is the cost of maintaining records at the Department of Agriculture greater than the cost of keeping dogs at shelters and eventually putting them to sleep? What are the real costs?

To gather this information, I called the CT Department of Agriculture on February 12th. The answering machine informed me no one was in the office. So, I figured it might be more effective to send an email to the address listed on the Department of Agriculture Website.

In my email, I asked some simple background questions. How many Pet Shop Licensees are there in the State of Connecticut that register certificates of origin with the Department of Agriculture? How many certificates of origin are filed each year with the department? How much does it cost for pet shops to file such certificates? How much does it cost the state to process such certificates?

This information would be helpful in understanding the costs and whether the bill is a good idea. What is more interesting to me is information about the number of dogs that are listed, what breeds they are, what states they have been brought in from, and other related information. Looking at this information could be helpful in finding ways to address the problems of too many dogs in our municipal shelters.

Unfortunately, no one at the Department of Agriculture ever responded to my request. Six days later, I sent it again, noting this was a second request and that it related to bill 5118. As of today, I have still received no response to my email.

Today, I called the Department of Agriculture again and explained what I was looking for. I was bounced from one person to another and no one knew who receives the emails sent to the Department of Agriculture. The last human at the Department of Agriculture I managed to speak to said that she could not speak to me, but that I should speak with Ray Connors who works for the Animal Control Division. I have left a voicemail for Mr. Connors and am awaiting a reply.

While I initially thought that there would be value to the Department of Agriculture tracking the number of dogs sold in the State of Connecticut and where the dogs came from, I now have doubts whether or not the agency, which seems unable to even answer emails is capable of the task.

Perhaps working with the Department of Agriculture to help them with basic computer skills, followed by moving to an electronic filing system of certificates of origin for dogs sold in Connecticut would be the best course of action.

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