Puppy Mill Dogs Need Your Help—Close Loophole Allowing Internet Mills to Operate Unregulated!

Dogs need your help! Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule to close a loophole in current law that has “threatened the health and humane treatment of pets sold sight unseen over the Internet and via phone- and mail-based businesses.”

Please act now to make sure this important rule is implemented.

Currently, only breeders who sell dogs to pet stores or to puppy brokers are required to be licensed and inspected by the USDA.

Due to the wording of the federal Animal Welfare Act—passed 40 years ago, before existence of the Internet—a large (and growing) population of commercial breeders has been able to escape federal licensing and regulation.

What this means is that in many cases, no one is checking up on breeders who sell puppies directly to consumers over the Internet. As the ASPCA has seen firsthand, the photos of happy, healthy puppies posted on a breeder’s website often grossly misrepresent what conditions are really like for these puppies and their parents.

Unlike the breeders who supply puppies to pet stores, the vast majority of breeders selling dogs directly to consumers are unlicensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Right now, the USDA considers any commercial dog breeder who sells puppies directly to the public, such as over the Internet, a “pet store” and exempts them from federal oversight―no matter how large or abusive their breeding operation is.

As a result, thousands of dogs are bred and kept in filthy, inhumane conditions with no basic welfare standards before being shipped to unsuspecting consumers throughout the country. This loophole is due to the fact that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was drafted in the 1960s, well before anyone could conceive of modern e-commerce.

This antiquated view of what constitutes a pet store needs an update now that people will buy almost anything online―including a family pet.

This gaping loophole in federal law is under government scrutiny, and we need everyone’s help to ensure it is closed!

In mid-May, the USDA released a draft of its proposed new rule to close this massive regulatory loophole.

The proposed rule represents a meaningful effort by the USDA to target problematic, large-scale breeding operations that sell puppies to the public, sight unseen, by requiring these breeders to meet the minimum care standards of the Animal Welfare Act.

While we often hear about the plight of the puppies who come out of puppy mills, the mothers of those puppies also urgently need protection. Breeding female dogs in puppy mills are forced to bear litter after litter without any break for their bodies to recover. They typically suffer from lack of proper nutrition, socialization and veterinary care. Support the USDA’s efforts to require more large-scale, commercial breeders to open their kennel doors to federal inspectors.

ASPCA experts have reviewed the USDA’s proposed rule—they support it, and have a few suggestions regarding how it could be made stronger.

Please help ensure that the Internet-breeder licensing loophole is closed!

What You Can Do

The USDA is accepting comments from the public on this issue for a short time. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online today to quickly and easily submit a comment to the USDA, letting the agency know that you support the proposed rule to close a loophole that has caused untold thousands of dogs to suffer inhumane treatment without any federal or public oversight.

Thank you for taking action for puppy mill dogs!

For more information, visit www.aspca.org/USDA

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