Today, USA Today broke in print a five-month HSUS investigation into puppy mills in Virginia. Tonight, Entertainment Tonight breaks the video, and tomorrow we’ll have it available for other television press. The results will shock you. And this comes on the heels of an investigation we conducted into dog auctions, where puppy millers sell breeding dogs to other puppy mill operators.
© The HSUS
A dog’s life at a Virginia puppy mill.
We’ve long known about Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania as enclaves for puppy mills. But no one thought Virginia was in their league.
Now we know better. Our investigation determined that there are only 16 commercial dog breeding operations in Virginia licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act and requires the licensing of operations that have more than three breeding females and that sell puppies to pet stores. Yet, there are nearly 1,000 commercial dog breeding operations in Virginia, many of them large-scale mills churning out puppies for the pet trade.
We found puppy millers selling to pet stores not registered with the USDA—a violation of federal law. We found animals in cramped, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions—a violation of state animal health standards. We also found one puppy mill operator who had been convicted of an unrelated animal cruelty charge. And we found untold breeders selling directly to the public over the Internet or through newspapers ads—breeders who escape regulation through a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act. See more about the investigation on our website.
Tomorrow, I’ll post our video on the blog and provide more details, after Entertainment Tonight breaks the story (use ET’s local show finder to see when the segment airs in your area).
A footnote: The New York Times today reported on the death of Washoe, a 42-year-old chimpanzee who had been living in eastern Washington. Washoe was one of the first "signing" chimps, and Roger and Debbie Fouts, two tremendously dedicated animal advocates, had been caring for her and working with her for decades. Washoe, who helped us gain insight into the remarkable intelligence of chimps, has been an inspiration for our Chimps Deserve Better campaign, which seeks an end to the use of chimpanzees in invasive biomedical research. Though she was taken from her home in West Africa, Washoe had a pretty good life, and our condolences go out to Roger and Debbie and all of the other people and chimps touched by her. But there are more than 1,000 chimps languishing in labs and it’s time to get them out of those settings. They shouldn’t die in steel cages, alone and lonely.