Nebraska senators advance bill upping puppy mill penalties

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska puppy mills could face stricter supervision and harsher penalties under a bill that won first-round approval in the Legislature.

Senators voted 29-0 to advance a bill designed to promote coordination between local and state governments for inspecting commercial cat and dog breeding facilities.

The Department of Agriculture has faced criticism from animal welfare advocates who say authorities are not doing enough to enforce penalties for animal neglect.

The measure by Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo would train deputy sheriffs as special inspectors with authority to temporarily impound abused or neglected animals.

The bill would also hold breeders financially responsible if follow-up inspections are required, and raise some animal licensing fees to pay for the oversight program.

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