21 March 2011

Amendment to U.S. Animal Welfare Act a potential blow to puppy mills

A proposed amendment to the U.S. Animal Welfare Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Bill 835 - also known as the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS) – seeks to close a “loophole” that puppy mills have been taking advantage of for years.

Right now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates dog breeders who sell large volumes of puppies to pet stores, but it does not oversee breeders who sell their animals directly to the public such as online. Further, while the U.S. Animal Welfare Act does require breeders who sell to pet stores to be licensed and regularly inspected, it also does not currently regulate breeders who sell puppies outside of a pet store.

As a result, large scale puppy mills have been able to breed dogs in horrific conditions, often with no exercise or socialization, inadequate veterinary care and physical and psychological abuse. They then sell these poor, often sick, animals to often unsuspecting buyers over the Internet and make an enormous profit at the expense of the puppies and their mothers.

If the bill passes, it will close this gap in federal regulation and require breeders who sell more than 50 dogs per year to undergo regular inspection and allow each dog the opportunity to exercise for an hour a day.

The PUPS Act has gained support from 50 legislators so far.

A Humane Society Legislative Fund news release quoted Congressman Sam Farr from California, one of the sponsors of the bill. "Dog breeders have taken advantage of this Internet loophole to increase their profits at the expense of the health of thousands of dogs," he said. "The result of breeders' ability to bypass regulations has led to widespread abuses of dogs that are crammed into small cages with no exercise or social contact. We have a responsibility to close this loophole, because it is simply unconscionable to allow this abuse to continue."

Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

Photo credit: Sara