The Internet has done amazing things for the world of pet adoptions. But it has also opened up a new avenue for animal exploitation and abuse. Many large-scale puppy mills use the Internet to sell wholesale animals—thereby avoiding the regulations set out in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966.
According to the USDA website: the AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.
Currently, the Act stipulates that animal retail establishments are exempt from inspections. The law was written at a time when people were actually seeing firsthand where their pet was coming from (and therefore the condition of the establishment and the animals was readily apparent). The Internet created a shield behind which large-scale breeders could hide.
Fortunately, the USDA has recently proposed regulatory changes to the 1966 Act. Per the Associated Press, “the change would subject dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies electronically, by mail or over the phone to the same oversight faced by wholesale dealers.”
“This is a very significant proposed federal action, since thousands of large-scale breeders take advantage of a loophole that allows them to escape any federal inspections,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Dogs in puppy mills often live in small, overcrowded cages, living in filth and denied veterinary care. We need more eyes on these operations, and this rule will help.”
Says Congressman Sam Farr, “The change will finally allow the USDA to properly enforce violations, shut down puppy mills, and prevent future abuses of dogs and unsuspecting customers.”
It’s hard to imagine that the proposed changes will face much opposition.
The USDA will be accepting comments on the legislation for the next 60 days. Let your voice be heard in the fight against puppy mills!