Puppy Mills Thrive Thanks to Internet Loophole

This week two senators reintroduced legislation that would help protect thousands of dogs around the U.S. who are  suffering in puppy mills by regulating breeders who sell directly to the public.

The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), will close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that currently allows thousands of breeders to sell directly to the public via the Internet, phone or mail without any oversight.

Under current laws, only breeders who sell to pet stores and brokers are regulated and inspected by the USDA, and even they are only required to provide the most basic care.

The PUPS Act will close this loophole and bring all commercial breeders under federal oversight by requiring any breeder who sells, or tries to sell, more than 50 dogs annually to be licensed and inspected. It will also add a requirement that dogs get exercised, or allowed access to an exercise area, for at least 60 minutes every day.

“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,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Puppy mills are able to completely evade federal oversight by taking advantage of a pre-Internet loophole in current law, but the PUPS Act would change that.”

In January, the International Fund for Animal Welfare released the first public study examining the connection between Internet sales and how they’re helping puppy mills thrive. Investigators found that after looking at almost 10,000 ads from six dedicated puppy seller websites, which represent approximately 10 percent of total ads for these sites, 62 percent were “likely puppy mill” sourced, which investigators called a conservative estimate.

“The media regularly report stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities – where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill and injured dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care,” said Durbin. “Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases.”

The USDA announced a similar proposal last spring that would have regulated breeders who sell directly to the public, but it has not been implemented.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to protect these dogs without modernizing the AWA – which was written in 1966 – to deal with advances in technology which would close the current loophole and help shut these operations down. Doing so will not only protect dogs who are forced to suffer in puppy mills, but will also help protect unsuspecting consumers from bringing home sick dogs.

“Dog breeders have taken advantage of this Internet loophole to increase their profits at the expense of the health of thousands of dogs,” said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA). “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.”

Take Action: Sign the petition to support the PUPS Act


Related Stories:

The Ugly Truth Behind Where Those Puppies in Online Sales Come From

Puppies Triumph Over Breeders in Texas Court

Support Regulations for Online Pet Sales


Photo credit: Thinkstock


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thanks for the information.

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you for caring.

Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

BAN all puppy mills worldwide! Breeding must be regulated way better.

Carrie-Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Fi T.
Past Member 5 years ago

Let's concern about animal welfare

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Today I made a startling revelation. Going through my enormous load of unread e-mails, I found one giving discounts (o various goods and products) to consumers. In it were a link directing me to a website where puppies were sold. Pretty pictures of puppies, information on bloodlines and championships and reasurrances that all puppies were healthy and well-bread. Yeah, right. They boosetd about selling thousands of puppies each year and had testimonials from satisfied customers. And, there where international sales available. Everything looked extremely legit. But, for one thing. I've read numerous stories about puppy mills and cannot for the life of me see how this site would be any different from a lot of ads elsewhere; In USA, the UK, Australia, etc. Where would they find so many puppies available, if not for puppy mill breeders?
I will never buy a puppy from a website, an ad or a pet store. But there are many, many others without my knowledge that will fall for all those cute pictures and stories that will get ripped off and also support breeders only in it for the money.
A law like AWA and the additions proposed by Senators Durbin and Vitter, should be global and tighten any loopholes. Also, put a limit on 10-15 animals per year. But, this is a step in the right direction which, hopefully, in time will be even more effective.
If anyone want to look at the above mentioned website, the address is: www.europuppy.com

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

It's a good start, but like many posters have mentioned, the numbers need to be adjusted down. Agree with William B....."this doesn't go far enough". No, it doesn't.

Let's hope they are successful in closing this loophole. And where there is one loophole no doubt there are others that need closing as well.

Well done Senators Durbin and Vitter.

Waheeda S.
Waheeda S5 years ago

Thank you to these senators and their constituents!

Linda P.
Linda P5 years ago

Thank you Senators for helping these babies. I agree with the others that 50 annually is to high a number for an inspection. I think we all know the horrific conditions these innocent victims have had to endure and it has to stop. I know there are good breeders, but there are too many that only care about the money and I would really like to see unannounced visit's, if they are not doing anything wrong, it shouldn't be a problem. The animals are the ones that are important. I would really like to see puppy mills banned, as we will only adopt or take in rescues I find dumped off and it is the best thing we have ever done, we are so lucky to have them in our lives.

Estelle S.
Past Member 5 years ago

ADOPT ... too many homeless pets out there/ puppy mills need to be shut down for good.