Iowa Department of Agriculture Proposes Changes to Strengthen Companion Animal Welfare Rules

Proposed changes will elevate the companion animal care and housing requirements for licensed commercial breeders, animal shelters, dealers and kennels in the state

DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 19, 2019) — The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is proposing administrative rule changes that will elevate the standard of care for companion animals in Iowa.

“As part of my first term, we’ve been performing an internal review of the Department’s structure and regulatory rules,” said Secretary Mike Naig. “We established three core principals to guide our review process, including protecting the health and welfare of all animals in Iowa, maintaining the transparency of inspections and regulatory reviews, and supporting continuing education and training for state inspectors and animal caregivers.”

These changes will affect all licensed commercial breeders, animal shelters, animal dealers including rescues, commercial and boarding kennels including doggy daycares, groomers and trainers, and in-house facilities in the state. The Iowa Department of Agriculture’s proposed changes include:

  • More stringent temperature and humidity requirements
  • Solid resting surfaces for animals kept on wire flooring
  • Larger primary enclosure requirements
  • More stringent cleaning and sanitation requirements
  • Increased access to water
  • Isolation area requirements to improve biosecurity and reduce the risk of disease spread

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will formally submit its proposed changes to Iowa Administrative Rules Chapter 67 to the state on Friday; this begins the official administrative rule-review process. Citizens can view the proposed rule changes on rules.iowa.gov beginning on Oct. 9, and provide comments until Oct. 29. If approved, the proposed administrative rule changes will go into effect on Jan. 8, 2020.

Review process

The Department’s review process revealed the need to divide the assistant state veterinarian role between two individuals — one focused on companion animal care and the other focused on production animals. 

Dr. Katie Rumsey was hired as the Iowa assistant state veterinarian focused on companion animal care in March 2019, and she officially joined the department in May. Dr. Rumsey has more than 14 years of experience and expertise in small animal medicine, public health and disease control and prevention.

“We’re committed to protecting the health and welfare of all animals in Iowa, and being transparent about our regulatory process,” said Dr. Rumsey. “Since March, the Department has been reviewing the animal welfare rules that fall under our regulatory authority; we’ve also been holding meetings with key stakeholders, including legislators, animal advocacy groups, commercial breeders, and the Department’s animal inspectors, to determine if changes were needed. We agreed that all licensed companion animal facilities should be held to the same requirements — and they should all be held to higher standards than are reflected in the current administrative rules.”

As part of the Department’s continued commitment to transparency, inspection reports will remain available online and are now posted in a more user-friendly interface. These inspection reports include unannounced annual inspections, complaint inspections and re-inspections. This makes it easier for consumers to research breeders, shelters, rescues, boarding kennels, doggy daycares, groomers and trainers, so they can feel confident that the establishment is operating in compliance with Iowa law.

Citizens are encouraged to read the proposed companion animal rule changes when they are published to rules.iowa.gov on Oct. 9. The public is also welcome to provide feedback during the open comment period, which ends on Oct. 29.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Contact: Keely Coppess
515-281-3375 or 515-326-1616 (cell)
Keely.Coppess@iowaagriculture.gov