Breeders who sell animals directly to the public may no longer be able to avoid federal oversight if a new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) passes, which could mean a big blow to puppy mills.
Currently, thousands of breeders are taking advantage of a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that allows them to sell directly to the public via the Internet, phone or mail without any oversight.
The proposed change would update the 40-year-old definition of a “retail pet store” to close the loophole and impose the same regulations on these breeders as those faced by large-scale wholesale dealers under the AWA and would apply to those who breed more than four “female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals” every year. Brick and mortar pet stores have been exempt from regulations under the premise that people can actually go in and observe the health and well-being of animals before bringing them home.
Under the change, breeders will have to open their doors and allow buyers in to see animals before they buy them, or get a license and allow APHIS inspections to ensure that animals are cared for and healthy, according to the AP.
“This proposed change is aimed at modernizing our regulations to require individuals who sell animals directly to the public to meet basic care and feeding as required by the Animal Welfare Act,” said Rebecca Blue, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “By revising the definition of retail pet store to be better suited to today’s marketplace, we will improve the welfare of pets sold to consumers via online, phone- and mail-based businesses.”
Please sign the petition supporting the USDA’s proposed regulations to help protect pets and consumers.
APHIS also needs to hear from us and will be accepting public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after it’s published in the Federal Register, which should be any day now. When it’s online, if you would like to leave a comment you can do so here, or search regulations.gov for Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003.
Photo credit: Thinkstock