This spring the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced a proposal that would crack down on puppy mills by regulating breeders who sell directly to the public.
There are currently thousands of breeders who are making good use of a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that allows them to sell animals over the Internet, phone or mail, or other means where customers don’t physically enter their facilities, without any federal oversight.
The USDA’s proposed rule would revise the 40-year old definition of a retail pet store and impose the same regulations on these breeders as those faced by large-scale wholesale dealers, and would apply to those who breed more than four female dogs, cats or other small animals each year.
Under the current law, brick and mortar pet stores have been exempt from having to obtain federal licenses under the premise that people can physically go in and see the animals for themselves and make sure they’re healthy before bringing them home. Under the USDA’s changes, breeders will have to either allow buyers in to see animals or get a license.
While the USDA’s proposal is getting a lot of support from dog lovers and animal advocates, individuals and groups who are making money off of the mass-production of dogs are opposing the proposed changes and are essentially fighting against having to provide the most basic care for their animals.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) just released a report called ‘The American Kennel Club: No Longer ‘The Dog’s Champion?,’ which highlights the ways that the AKC is thwarting efforts to protect dogs, including its opposition of the USDA’s proposal.
“This is one of the most important dog welfare reforms of the decade, and AKC is opposing it,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the US, told ABC News.
Considering that the current rules were written before the internet even existed, the proposal is a necessary step in bringing the AWA up to date with the current business practices and would be a great step towards protecting animals and consumers.
The USDA is accepting public comments until July 16. Please take a minute to submit a comment for animals in support of its proposed regulations to increase protection for pets that are sold directly to the public.