There has been an incredible response to our Horrible Hundred report on problem puppy mills and to our Petland investigation, both released this month. Tens of thousands of you have shared our blog posts on social media, and many have written to us with your own horror stories of buying animals from Petland or from other places that source animals from puppy mills.
Many of you are asking why businesses that have been found with sick or dying puppies are still permitted to operate, year after year, despite these ongoing violations.
The primary reason that this problem continues, despite all the attention we’ve brought to it, is a lack of enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency in charge of inspecting puppy mills that sell online or to pet stores like Petland. The USDA has been routinely relicensing problem dealers — even puppy mills that have been found repeatedly with emaciated, sick or dying animals on their premises.
We’ve also told you how the USDA has slowed down on citing those who violate Animal Welfare Act regulations and has taken down important puppy mill inspection records from its website, keeping the public entirely in the dark about whether the agency is properly inspecting and overseeing puppy mills in the nation.
But as your response to our investigations shows, Americans want no part of this cover-up. And right now you have a chance to help end the suffering that animals in these enterprises endure. But you need to act fast, by commenting before June 3rd on a proposed federal rule that would establish important reforms for animals trapped in mills.
As I wrote last month, the new rule could, if finalized and properly enforced, be a game-changer. Importantly, it would require an actual showing of compliance with the law before a breeder is allowed to continue operating, and would take steps toward closing a loophole in the regulations that lets puppy breeders, whose licenses have been revoked for severe and multiple Animal Welfare Act violations, to continue doing business as usual by relicensing under a family member’s name. It also proposes a requirement for enhanced veterinary care for animals held by dealers, exhibitors and research facilities, including annual hands-on veterinary exams and vaccinations for all dogs, and other commonsense measures, like requiring that all dogs and cats have regular access to fresh, clean water, among other improvements.
The problem of puppy mills is a deep-rooted one in our country, and one that will take a long time to resolve completely. The HSUS is on the job, raising awareness about mills and the government’s oversight of breeders through our investigations and our Horrible Hundred reports, and fighting at the federal, state and local level, and in the courts, to end this problem. But we cannot do this without your help. By commenting in support of the USDA rule, you could help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals trapped in puppy mills, so please use this comment form and let the agency know you support it. And if you would like to report a sick puppy you purchased at Petland or from any other seller, please tell us here. Together, we can work toward the day when no animal ever has to endure the misery of life in a puppy mill.