Puppy Protection Act brings hope for dogs languishing in puppy mills
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
In West Point, Iowa, a large-scale, commercial breeding facility called the Stonehenge Kennel contains more than 800 dogs. Here, since 2015, more than 100 dogs have been found sick or injured; some had open lesions and could barely walk. As recently as December 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found multiple dogs there suffering from visible hair loss, crusty or dirty eyes and ears, swellings on their legs, paws, abdomens and several other painful issues. Violations like this have been documented at the massive facility again and again for over a decade. The Stonehenge Kennel has violated the USDA’s regulations frequently enough to land in our annual Horrible Hundred report five times.
It is because of puppy mills like the Stonehenge Kennel that we’re supporting the Puppy Protection Act (H.R.1624), which was just reintroduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa. and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.
The Puppy Protection Act would amend the Animal Welfare Act to require significant improvements to the standards of care required for USDA licensed dog breeders. Large-scale commercial dog breeders who sell to pet stores, brokers or online sight-unseen are required to obtain a USDA license, undergo regular inspections and comply with standards of care defined in the Animal Welfare Act. However, under the minimal standards now in place, breeders can keep dogs in cramped cages with scant protection from bitter cold or scorching hot weather. They can breed female dogs again and again until their bodies give out, even if the dogs have congenital defects that they could pass on to their puppies, generation after generation. And of course, once they are worn out, these mother dogs can be killed or sold at auction.
The Puppy Protection Act would require more spacious dog runs, solid floors instead of wire that injures dogs’ paws and feedings at least twice per day. Puppy millers would also have to make a reasonable effort to find retired breeding dogs a home or a rescue placement instead of just killing them.
There is a strong public health component to this legislation, too. Right now, the USDA allows commercial breeders to avoid taking injured or sick dogs to a veterinarian for hands-on diagnosis and care. This can lead to illnesses going unnoticed or incorrectly diagnosed and sick dogs treated for symptoms only, which could lead to outbreaks of zoonotic disease. Some of these diseases, such as brucellosis, giardiasis and campylobacteriosis, are not only dangerous for animals but harmful if transmitted to humans. Dozens of people have landed in the hospital after contracting a multi-drug resistant Campylobacter “superbug” from pet store dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which studied two different outbreaks of the disease from 2019 to 2021. If it becomes law, the Puppy Protection Act would address these problems by requiring prompt medical care by a licensed veterinarian.
We all know what dogs love: a comfortable napping spot, a romp in the grass, a kind touch and the safety and security of a caring environment. It’s astounding to think that thousands of dogs in USDA-licensed commercial breeding operations that sell to pet stores and online still have none of these comforts. As long as dogs continue to be bred in these large-scale facilities, we will be pressing local, state and federal legislatures to put animal welfare first because improving their quality of life is the right thing to do. Setting the animal welfare bar higher in this area should be common sense, and we’re confident that we’ll succeed in gaining substantial bipartisan support for it in the House.
You can ask your representatives to cosponsor the Puppy Protection Act, which would help save thousands of dogs from suffering. You can also help puppy mill dogs and other animals by urging your lawmakers to improve living conditions for animals under the Animal Welfare Act.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
Breaking: Undercover investigation reveals Florida’s shady ivory market
With elephants just a step or two away from extinction, our newly released undercover investigation reveals a thriving market for ivory products in Florida, one that undermines conservation efforts and increases the pressure on this beleaguered species. Under U.S. federal law, new ivory cannot be . . .
In major win for animals, Indonesia’s capital city bans dog and cat meat trades
Earlier this month, authorities from the Special Area of the City of (DKI) Jakarta—the most populous metropolitan area in Indonesia, which includes the capital city—announced they have banned the dog and cat meat trades, which will save the lives of an estimated 340 dogs and . . .
Undercover at wildlife killing ‘contest’ where 405 coyotes were slaughtered in 45 hours
At the end of a macabre “contest” in Mendon, Illinois, a young boy carries the lifeless bodies of coyotes streaked with blood and torn apart by bullets. He walks across blood-soaked pavement, struggling under the weight of the animals as he helps to load the . . .
Victory! Cruel hunting methods in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge were just defeated
In a massive victory for wildlife in Alaska, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that it was withdrawing its 2020 proposed rule that would have allowed trophy hunters on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to lure brown bears to their deaths with . . .
Nearly 200 dogs saved from slaughter as HSI shuts down 18th dog meat farm
Not long ago, our Humane Society International team in South Korea discovered yet another heartbreaking scene on a dog meat farm: Dozens and dozens of dogs were locked in feces-filled cages awaiting slaughter. Many were pregnant, days away from giving birth to puppies who would . . .
A decade’s worth of wins against cosmetics animal testing
Tomorrow, March 11, 2023, marks the 10-year anniversary of a historic paradigm shift away from cosmetics animal testing. When the European Union and Israel became the world’s first markets to ban animal tests for cosmetics such as makeup, shampoo and cologne, the change jump-started our . . .
Major win: 450 local communities have banned the sale of puppies in pet stores
This week, Indianapolis became the 450th locality in the nation to prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. The passage of this ordinance also means that half of the 20 largest cities in the nation won’t allow puppy mill puppies to be . . .
What we found undercover at infamous trophy hunting convention
Elephant-skin luggage and leopard claw jewelry are just some of the supposedly luxurious products our undercover investigator discovered at Safari Club International’s annual hunting convention, where more than 850 exhibitors convened in February in Nashville, Tennessee. As disturbing as the artifacts of animals already lost . . .
For the first time, birds receive protection under the Animal Welfare Act
In a monumental step forward for birds who are often exploited in the pet trade, exhibitions and breeding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has just enacted federal protections for birds used in commerce. This win is the result of a decades-long legal effort by animal . . .
Rescuing and reuniting animals after Türkiye’s devastating earthquakes
The devastation wrought by earthquakes in Türkiye earlier this year is almost unfathomable. Our rescue team is still on the ground, honored to bring some joy and relief to survivors, who lost virtually everything, by reuniting them with their animals. With each passing day, our . . .
Animal Care Expo is building a stronger animal protection movement
We’re looking forward to Animal Care Expo 2023, which takes place this year in New Orleans. In anticipation, Hilary Hager, our vice president of outreach, engagement and training, reflects on how Expo brings people together and strengthens the animal protection movement. The first time I . . .