Time for feds to take anti-puppy-mill fight to next level

By on July 12, 2016 with 26 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been charged by Congress to license and inspect commercial pet breeders that sell puppies to pet stores or via the Internet. While we’ve lauded some recent actions of the USDA to crack down on the worst breeders, we’ve long recognized that the underlying regulations that set standards of care are too weak – making it legal for breeders to keep animals in deficient, even dangerous environments, and to entirely sidestep issues related to genetic and psychological health. In fact, current regulations don’t even require that breeding dogs have access to the outdoors, room to run, regular hands-on veterinary exams, or daily positive human attention.

Last September, The HSUS submitted a legal petition to the USDA, urging the agency to improve its standards of care for dogs in commercial breeding operations. In short, we’ve proposed upgrading the minimum standards to drive out the worst actors so that people who cannot provide the basics for dogs are precluded from conducting business. We’ve been encouraged that several players in the industry supported this petition.

The USDA and other regulators must know that there is growing momentum among citizens to end the suffering and abuse of dogs at puppy mills. More than 160 local governments have enacted ordinances banning the sale of commercially-raised puppies in pet stores and our lawyers have defeated at least six industry challenges to those ordinances. Louisiana just enacted a state law on the issue, and New Jersey lawmakers are poised to pass one, too.

The USDA has not moved fast enough to strengthen its standards on puppy mills, and it’s up to the American public to make sure that the agency acts. Given the administrative procedures that drag out any rulemaking process, this issue won’t be settled this year, even if the USDA were to demonstrate more serious resolve. The next president will likely determine whether new standards are put in place to assure the health of dogs bred for commerce. But the USDA shouldn’t use that as an excuse to wait.

What we do know for certain is that industry self-regulation has been a dismal failure. When questioned about their stores’ alleged links to puppy mills, store owners routinely tell customers that they purchase only from USDA licensed breeders, as if that’s some kind of ironclad assurance. The average shopper doesn’t understand that the USDA’s housing rules are best described as survival standards rather than humane standards. It’s not illegal under the law to allow hundreds of dogs to live their entire lives in small, stacked wire cages, with very little protection from extremes of heat or cold. There’s no requirement that an animal ever has to leave a cage or see a veterinarian. And the USDA readily admits that its inspection process inadequately enforces even these bare minimum standards.

Our countless raids of substandard mills, with law enforcement, show that we have a simmering problem throughout the nation. The current set of state and federal guidelines aren’t enough, and frankly, a patchwork of state rules and regulations for a national industry is not the most efficient or reliable way to tackle a decades-long problem involving hundreds of thousands of animals.

The USDA has made advances in recent years to better regulate commercial dog breeders, adopting rules to ban imports of dogs from foreign puppy mills and to require inspections of internet sellers of puppies. But we’re overdue for lifting the standards, and even people in the industry know it’s time. If you haven’t already written to the USDA asking the agency to act on this petition, please do so now. We will ensure that your letter is presented to the USDA in person.

Tell the USDA, dogs need better care »

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Linda Taylor says:

    It’s time to wake up and stop allowing individuals to receive tax-free income by keeping dogs in horrible conditions with no clean water, vet care, fresh air, exercise so they can sell their puppies for thousands of dollars over the Internet. The adult dogs live in filthy wire cages most of their lives until they are discarded like trash because they can no longer reproduce. We must end puppy mills and if someone is buying a puppy from a pet store, Internet, or back yard breeder; they are participating in the abuse. No one should ever buy a puppy without first seeing the condition the adult dogs are in. It’s irresponsible, cruel and just plain uncool. We can do better than this!

    • Angela says:

      Well said!

    • Brenda Johnson says:

      It is not tax free I pay 40 percent federal and 8 percent state nothing is tax free income

      • Cheryl Pecor says:

        Get off your damn lazy ass and get a respectable job and stop earning your living off neglecting, abusing and then selling innocent dogs and their puppies.
        You are disgusting and should be closed down and not just taxed on your disgusting business. I hope laws are created and enforced to put you and your kind in prison for the rest of your miserable, worthless lives. You deserve to be locked in a cage for the rest of you existence on earth as you condemn helpless innocent animals to suffer.

  2. Melody Bussey says:

    It’s time to enforce humane regulations on all breeders…and more importantly pass regulations against puppy mills, online marketing of pets, and backyard breeders.

  3. Lisa Herman says:

    Please make the world better for these precious animals. We need to make everything more humane. This is one step in the process to do this.

  4. Rachel Fecanin says:

    We demand human treatment!

  5. hugo says:


  6. Patricia Slyter says:

    These poor animals live in horrible conditions just so greedy breeders can become wealthy off the suffering of these poor dogs! Please clean this up! No one has the right to treat animals this inhumanely. This also contributes to the over population problem we have. Puppies from puppy mills do not make good pets as they have never been socialized, have lived with their mother in filthy conditions. When their behavioral problems become apparent, many are dumped, abandoned or surrendered to shelters because the owners don’t want to deal with them. This contributes to more unwanted pets. We don’t need breeders bringing more puppies into the world!

  7. Patricia Slyter says:

    Please stop the excessive breeding of dogs that there are no homes for, born into horrible, filthy conditions!

  8. Eileen Goodman says:

    Why hasn’t the USDA done anything before this?? They don’t do anything for animals. Almost as bad as the murderous BLM. What about factory farms?! We have an inhumane government that answers to big factory farms, to the cattle ranchers, to big money only. It’s all greed and corruption.

  9. Phyllis Levinson says:

    We need strong federal legislation to protect dogs from lives of abuse, neglect and illness.

  10. Bobbie says:

    This abuse and filth for dogs and cats too, has to have an end. These animals are loving loyal living creatures all they want is safe healthy happy loving homes.
    For those of us emploring that you take drastic measures towards these puppy mills, that force. These furbabies to barely survive to reproduce for their own selfish riches needs to stop this maddness! What is their reasoning for this treatment to these poor defenceless furbabies?I dont understand their way of thinking at all! What do they profit to sell sick animals? Are ppl that lame to purchase without having these babies vet checked prior to giving pmt. I would insist! But the fact of the matter is simple, close them down 1st offense of abuse they dont need anymore chances they will repeat the offense again and again Stop them shut them down.if not they will most certainly repeat putting animals in misery with suffering so they can make an easy buck! Please, Please put the law nation wide/ world wide no more illegal unsupervised puppy mills!
    For me this is child abuse, as pet owners everywhere that truely love our pets, these furbabies are our children. We fight to protect and love them as though they are our human children. You may think me crazy but im telling you right now. Anyone that really loves their pet ,will tell you they love their pet the are our children we love them we respect them and vise versa.

  11. Francine Grieco says:

    Better care of dogs ! People love animals and donate their time and money ! Animals are beautiful and. a blessing. These animals have helped people in so many ways. Animals are not vicious it’s the people that make them that way ! And harsher penalties ! God bless !

  12. Cindy Kasnicka says:

    Puppy mills are horrible! They are inhumane and should be outlawed.
    Get rid of them!

  13. Barbara Collins says:

    Please remember those that have no voice
    Thank you

  14. Cynthia Clayton says:

    This is WAY overdue and the government should be ashamed that they haven’t stepped in long ago! Abuse is abuse.

  15. friede reed says:

    People that are approached to deal with animal welfare too often are clueless.
    These people NEED to go to SEE the horrendous conditions for themselves.
    Its too easy to push paperwork and see a few photos ….then go for coffee and chat.
    You NEED people that have animal welfare at heart…..not in the income.
    There is too much suffering by passed with paper pushing board members and staff. YOU can end animal suffering…get the job done!

  16. Dennis Tackett says:

    Puppy mills are hell holes. Please improve the dog’s conditions.

  17. Gina Mulder says:

    Puppymills maintain a false legitimacy by posting in social media groups under the title livestock and other animals. It is sickening to view these posts.

  18. Marlene Patterson says:

    Please help rescue our puppies from horrible puppy mills. Thank you.

  19. Lisa says:

    How can any where in the United States consider animal abuse legal. Not to mention how they discard them when the can no longer produce. We need to put a stop to this

  20. Charlene Crowe says:

    Please stop puppy mills. Usda has to be humane to livestock and help poultry

  21. Lorraine Brown says:

    Disgusting. This has to end!

  22. Lisa says:

    The problem is the fact that the US Department of AGRICULTURE is in charge of this regulation. Do you really think they care?? Nope!! They can barely regulate actual agriculture operations… Why would we expect them to be able to regulate a PET industry, which is really what we are talking about here. It’s beyond sad. We don’t need a federal bureaucracy to protect these lives – states and organizations like HSUS should be the ones handling this issue.

  23. Eileen Goodman says:

    Puppy mills should be totally banned, and the ban enforced!
    Puppy mills are greedy factories of neglect and cruelty.
    The USDA is useless. Piecemeal victories don’t stop the business.
    I still ask, why can’t the hundreds of animal support groups join together and march on Washington, representing us???

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