A new law that ends the sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores has just taken effect in Maryland this New Year, heralding a new era of progress for companion animals suffering in puppy mills.
Maryland is only the second state to pass such a law after California, and on January 2, Gov. Larry Hogan rang in the new year by reiterating his support with a Facebook post that showed him hugging a puppy. “I was proud to push for and enact the No More Puppy- and Kitten-Mills Act of 2018, which bans retail stores from the sale of commercially-bred pets that all too often come from inhumane breeding mills,” he wrote.
Hogan, a Republican governor, championed the bill that sailed through the state’s largely Democratic legislature, showing the overwhelming support this issue enjoys among all Americans, regardless of party affiliations. There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. These mass breeding facilities often neglect the physical and emotional needs of the animals in their care to maximize their profits, and have no place in a nation where people love and cherish companion animals.
As more and more Americans wake up to the cruelty of puppy mills, lawmakers are taking note too and so far, in addition to the two state pet store laws, we have helped pass 334 ordinances in localities around the country ending the sales of puppy mill animals in pet stores.
A similar bill in Maine has already passed the state’s legislature and now awaits the governor’s signature. We continue to work on similar laws in Pennsylvania and New York, and later this week we expect a comprehensive puppy mill bill (including a prohibition on puppy sales in pet stores, and upgraded commercial breeder standards) to be introduced in Colorado as well as upgraded dog breeder regulations to be finalized in Iowa.
The Humane Society of the United States has a dedicated puppy mills campaign staff that has been the driving force behind much of the progress made against puppy mills. Our state directors, working with campaign staff, have been pushing hard for the state and local measures, and through our investigations and research, we have focused attention on the mistreatment animals suffer in puppy mills.
Each year, our researchers sift through thousands of pages of USDA inspection reports to track the agency’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and to come up with data for our Horrible Hundred report on problem puppy mills, even though that task has become more difficult since the USDA began concealing information from reports posted online. And over the past three years, we have repeatedly exposed the miseries of the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline with our undercover investigations of an NYC puppy store, which quickly closed, and eight Petland stores around the country.
In the year 2020, we expect the progress to accelerate. Recently we learned that a new USDA rule, which we backed and which thousands of our supporters weighed in on during the public comment period, is expected to be finalized this year. The rule would prevent facilities that cannot affirmatively demonstrate Animal Welfare Act compliance from obtaining new USDA licenses, and enhance watering and veterinary care requirements at USDA-licensed dog breeding operations.
With our affiliate, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, we will continue to push for bills in Congress that would crack down on puppy mills, including the Puppy Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would, among several reforms, require hands-on veterinary examinations, core vaccinations, prompt treatment of illness or injury and preventive medications for animals in puppy mills, and the WOOF Act that would make it harder for USDA-licensed breeders and exhibitors with severe and multiple Animal Welfare Act violations to get new licenses.
We will also continue our vigilance of the USDA’s slipping enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act at puppy mills and other enterprises and entities that use animals. Puppy mills are bad business, and, with your support, we will continue to work toward the day when they are no more.