At White House meeting, breeders and other stakeholders agree on need for puppy mill reforms

By on July 9, 2018 with 25 Comments

The Humane Society of the United States fights puppy mills on many fronts, from working with local law enforcement to rescue animals in puppy mills to urging state and federal lawmakers and federal agencies to create and improve laws that protect animals in such facilities. Today, Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and John Goodwin, Senior Director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, attended a meeting at the White House along with various stakeholders from the pet industry and members of Congress to discuss the need to improve standards at large-scale commercial breeding facilities. On the blog today, I have invited them to share more details about that meeting.

John Goodwin, Senior Director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, and Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

We live in an era of sharply divided political opinions, but no matter how we vote, there is one thing most Americans would agree on: the compassionate treatment of dogs and ending the scourge of puppy mills. But this past year has seen some backward moves from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is charged with inspecting and maintaining records of commercial breeders that help groups like ours and consumers monitor puppy mill abuses.

Today, at a meeting in the West Wing of the White House, we had an opportunity to sit down with USDA officials, members of Congress, animal welfare advocate Blair Brandt, and stakeholders in the pet industry, including breeders and leaders from pet stores such as PetSmart and Petland, to discuss raising the standards of care for dogs in large-scale commercial breeding operations, the majority of which keep dogs in dismal conditions characteristic of puppy mills. The standards of care currently required under the Animal Welfare Act are woefully outdated, allowing USDA-licensed breeders to legally keep hundreds of dogs in cramped, stacked wire cages for their entire lives.

Lara Trump, an ardent dog lover and daughter-in-law of President Trump, participated in the meeting, which was also attended by Rep Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Rep Lou Barletta, R-Pa., and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. Rep. Fitzpatrick introduced two bills earlier this year designed to protect dogs in puppy mills. The trio of federal legislators also led a letter to the White House requesting humane reforms echoed in the discussion. Today’s meeting centered upon the need to raise the outdated care standards at federally-licensed dog breeding operations. Improvements discussed at the meeting included banning stacked cages and wire flooring, requiring common-sense reforms such as annual hands-on veterinary care for every dog, more comfortable and spacious housing, and attention to each dog’s social and behavioral needs.

It was particularly helpful to have the dog breeders tell the USDA directly that they support higher standards for commercial breeders, busting the agency’s perception that all breeders are against reform.

The meeting was an opportunity for redemption after the USDA, in February last year, caused an uproar by abruptly removing thousands of pages of Animal Welfare Act enforcement records from its website; many of those records are still missing or have critical information blacked out. In addition, earlier this year, the USDA announced a plan to start pre-warning some breeders prior to their inspections. Another plan, which has since been defeated, proposed allowing third-party groups to inspect puppy mills. In addition, HSUS research shows that in 2017 and 2018, USDA inspectors have been citing breeders with fewer and fewer violations, and that many dog breeders are increasingly failing to let inspectors into their kennels at all, perhaps emboldened by the lax enforcement.

Some states are taking action where the USDA has not. Today’s meeting follows the success of a new law in Ohio, signed just weeks ago, which requires common-sense reforms at commercial dog breeding operations, most of which mirror the same improvements that are being asked of the USDA. Ohio’s bill makes it the latest of several of the largest puppy mill states in the country to enact stronger standards. In fact, with the implementation of the Ohio law, and similar laws in high puppy-producing states such as Missouri and Pennsylvania, soon half of the federally licensed commercial dog breeders in the country will be located in states that already require most of the standards we are asking the USDA to implement.

We are now urging the USDA to move forward on a legal petition we first submitted in 2015, that outlines all the enhanced dog care standards discussed at the White House meeting today, and includes most of the standards recently passed in Ohio.

Professional pet sellers present at today’s meeting agree that moving forward to require these higher care standards nationwide is the best way to provide a level playing field for all breeders, while also providing dogs with the decent conditions that most Americans agree they all deserve.

Tell the USDA to stop protecting animal abusers

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Michele OBrien says:

    This is a good start and I only hope that it doesn’t take years and years to implement changes.

    • Jeanette Branco says:

      I totally agree its already too long for these poor animals to be suffering fir such a long time. Please act now and get something done. My heart breaks for them.

  2. Karen Royer says:

    why not close them all down….dogs are not livestock to be caged and bred….why are repeat offenders still in operation and an amishman applying for special exception regarding set-back does not have a kennel license and this was stated at the zoning meeting and he was not fined or closed down….things like this are wrong..too many people look the other way. Twp zoning laws are too old and need updated and need to stop allowing all these kennels to open up…just pitiful what these dogs go thru….just shut them down….please!

    • Helen says:


    • Camille says:

      Completely agree! I never applaud these new “regulations”. The ones already on the books aren’t even enforced!! The USDA is utterly useless when it comes to protecting the animals who live out their lives in these hellholes. So, instead of living out their lives in smaller cages, now they’ll live out their lives in cages that are a bit bigger?? They’ll still be bred at every cycle, receive little to no vet care, have no affection, treated like livestock. Come on!! The ONLY way to put a stop to this is to shut these places down once and for all. We need more state laws prohibiting the sale of animals in pet stores..PERIOD!! These animals are suffering and dying as we speak! This cruel, exploitative industry needs to END. NOW!

    • Alice lychack says:

      Absolutely shut them all down. Homes must be found for those that are living in cages in shelters , and in rescues, before more are born! Called birth control!

    • Jeanette Branco says:

      So true
      Why are they still open They should be closed down now , before its too late for all of these poor animals.

  3. Paula Tirado says:

    I believe breeding should be stopped altogether for the next 3 to 5 years excludimg purebreds. I believe anyone breeding dogs without papers should be made to do 500 hours of community service at a kill shelter to show what they do to the shelters, workers, volunteers, advacates and mostly to the millions of animals that get euthanized each year do to over population.

    • CFrye says:

      The problem with “community service” for a mill runner, is that spending 500 hours in a kill won’t phase them at all. These disgusting people have NO feelings for the animals. These dogs are absolutely nothing more, than money makers.
      These people need PRISON TIME.

  4. Y van diggele says:

    Please this have to stop !!!!

  5. Carol says:

    Common sense laws? Miller’s have none to begin with.

  6. Mary J Mau says:

    I agree all puppy mills should be shut down. Purebred breeders should stop for at least 7 years. Purebred dogs are no better than mutts, you just pay more. With all the breeding they have so many more health problems. Make some tough , tough punishments for the abusers.

  7. Debra Broach says:

    I agree that these puppy Mills need to be shut down period. There are enough dogs and cats in shelters that need homes. My heart breaks at seeing all these commercials of animals needing loving homes and people to love and care for them, yet these people constantly breed more. Also what about the animals they are using to breed. I am quite sure these dogs do not want to go through litter after litter that these owners make them do. That is really heartbreaking knowing those animals are going through that, all because of an owner’s greed. The welfare of an animal in this world is what’s important first and should be important… not your wallets. I think people who run these puppy Mills are heartless, selfish, greedy people with time on their hands to exploit animals all in the name of making a buck and who suffers? The innocent animals, that’s who, who are born and have to have homes and loving families found for them. End all puppy Mills, at least until homes have been found for those that are already here. I help someone who is in the spay, neuter and release program. From that program, I’ve adopted 3 kittens (who are now three years old) and a momma cat who helped nurse them when they were kittens. Also another stray cat which showed up in my yard, hung around and wouldn’t leave. She was having babies as well. I had her fixed and adopted her. My momma cat had five kittens , before I adopted her. Three died but two survived. Already having 5 cats, two dogs and a bird at the time , I couldn’t take in any more pets, as much as I would have wanted to because my heart belongs to all animals as I love them all. My point being, there are so many strays and animals at shelters that need good homes. We don’t need to be running puppy mills, constantly breeding more and more animals that just might and more than likely are going to end up in the streets. Some people who take these precious animals from these mills, end up not wanting them, after a while and just dump them in the streets or take them back to a shelter. These animals dumped in the streets then have to fend for themselves. Great life for them huh? Stop being selfish , puppy mill owners and let up for awhile. Stop breeding and give the animals who are already here a chance at a decent life if they can have one. So I ask that a bill be passed to shut these mills down. At !east for time enough to take care of the animals who are already here. Is that’s so hard to do? Start doing what’s right

  8. Norma Guerra says:

    What about puppy shots such as parvo which is a series of 3 to 4 injections at so many weeks of age? Most of the puppy Mills do these themselves along with docking of tails and dew claws. Is there any way of over seeing this. Female dogs also have a litter every 6 months so I think that they should be seen by a veterinarian more than once a year. I also believe that female dogs should be at least 2 to 3 years old before they have a litter of puppies. Then you have all those so called back yard breeders who are just as bad as puppy mills but with fewer animals and who sell them online. On one site I have seen puppies as young as 4 weeks old being advertised and for thousands of dollars. How much can we do to regulate these types of breeders?

    • David Oveton says:

      Gosh you have said so many things in this post that are simply wrong. I do not know where to start. the term PM is not one name fits all breeders. Please refrain from using name calling as an effort to make your point more dramatic. I do not think you would like it if people called you a whore, just because you happen to have the equipment to be one.

      Tails and Dew Claws there are state laws that are in place to over see these activities.

      Litter every six months is impossible, I do agree the Mothers need to be at least 2 before having babies. and all dogs need to have a vet health check at least once per year.

      Backyard Hobby people often are just trying to have puppies for all the wrong reasons, they generally lack the proper education and facilities and are not aware of the expense involved. seldom any genetic evaluation is provided as they simply breed what ever dogs they happen to have.

      Raising a litter of puppies should be left to the legal licensed breeders, who have the facilities, the knowledge and have number of dogs to choose from for good healthy babies. Prices are going up, because it is very expensive to do raise puppies properly.

  9. Deborah Iverson says:

    Stop all puppy mills!! The dogs are only used for monetary gain. They are unloved and bred to death. Not being caged doesn’t mean a good life! How would you like to be kicked, forced to breed until you’re private parts are deformed. It’s sickening and the puppy mill people are sick to the core!!!

  10. Faith Raucho says:

    to me puppy mills are a out rage. how they were able to allow this kind of business to ever get started is beyond me. they should of been shut down from day one and the owners put in prison and fine a huge amount. just like dog food companies who take short cuts trying to make money and it causes dogs to get sick and even die.. my beloved best freind of 18 wonderful years died after eating olroy dog food. it’s been 3 months and I still cry for my dog. he kept me company. I’m a old disable women now I don’t even want to wake up any more. do the company ever think of the life’s they destroyed or the sorrow I can’t recall my dog because they murder my best freind and my life

  11. Penny Gunn says:


  12. Trish crandell says:

    We put animals down daily, and are shelters are at capacity they are turning dogs away . . . These puppy mills need to be banned across the world. These are people that obviously do not have love for animals and are in it for the prophet only.

  13. Jennifer Krikorian says:

    SHUT THEM ALL DOWN! we don’t need any more puppies while millions are being murdered in shelters across the country! we all know it’s all about the money!!!

  14. Frances says:

    I have been following puppy mill stories for years. I hope before I leave this earth I can see all puppy mills shut down including pet stores that sell puppies. They are too lenient to these so-called breeders. Professional breeders are something totally different. I know a few who are mortified that this is going on and the treatment of these innocent animals. Like another poster said, separate the professional breeders from the low life puppy mill breeder. I adopted a 6-year-old dog from Missouri that could no longer breed because she had babies continuously so they threw her out like trash. She was in deplorable conditions. I took her in, nursed her back to health and she was the best dog anyone could hope for. I vowed to follow The Puppy Mill Project in honor of her since she left us a few months ago. Shut down all puppy mills, it’s not that hard.

  15. Joy M Crochiere says:

    Come on now—- Petland is one of the biggest seller of sick puppy mill puppies! To have them involved is a joke!! More and more town, cities and states are barring the sale of puppy mill pups. All breeding operation of this sort need to be shut down. Their way is no way to raise a healthy well adjusted family pet. Millions of health animals are killed every day. There is no need for these factory’s to exist!!

  16. Debra says:

    I suggest that you investigate were most of these dogs come from in shelters. For once look into all the facts. Most of the regulations go to large scale breeding facilities that are already compliant. These are regulated facilities that fill the market for purebred and some designer breeds.
    Look into why we have so many rescues, some that spend thousands on pregnant females and buy female pups at breeder auctions. Look into the ever expanding importing of dogs and puppies, start tracking these animals. Look into disease outbreaks, parasites, aggression and issues. Look into dog trafficking, Even with a nearby overwhelmed shelter, there are some that go far afield for sellable pups and dogs. Standards should be across the board not just for one group. Especially sense the volume of animals in rescues and shelters far exceeds the volume breeders sell and they have a small percent of a representation in shelters. Why on earth is importing of dogs and puppies for rescues and shelters to resell, allowed if some shelters are overrun? Seems to me this practice should be extremely limited or not at all. Sourcing needs to be defined as many rescue are purchasing dogs for resale from sub standard breeding facilities and breeder auctions, soliciting puppies they can breed also as nothing says they cannot. You must look at the whole picture before making new legislation.

  17. Malisa Vanhale says:

    Animals protect us and they can’t help themselves. We have to be there voice. Please end this.

  18. Debbie says:

    Many thousands of years ago man began domesticating wolves and through selective breeding produced what we now call dogs. Their intentions were good, and I can only imagine how heartbroken they would be if they knew about the inhumane treatment so many dogs receive now. It’s a blemish on man that won’t go away soon.

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