The United States Department of Agriculture will consider comments through Wednesday, August 15th about a proposed rule to hold online puppy sellers to the same standards that suppliers to pet stores are held to.
While the USDA only requires minimal standards of care for commercial puppy breeders (commonly known as Puppy Mills), the law does not extend to breeders who sell directly to the public.
This is often referred to as the 'online loophole' as it allows commercial breeders who market their puppies over the internet, by phone, or through catalogs to operate without any federal inspections.
“This is a very significant proposed federal action, since thousands of large-scale breeders take advantage of a loophole that allows them to escape any federal inspections,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Dogs in puppy mills often live in small, overcrowded cages, living in filth and denied veterinary care. We need more eyes on these operations, and this rule will help.”
The proposed rule would require large-scale, commercial puppy breeders and dealers who sell to the public “sight unseen,” to abide by the same basic standards of care as those who sell wholesale to pet stores.
The proposed rule will not affect small hobby breeders who sell puppies directly to the public from their homes. Small 'hobby' breeders who have less than five breeding females continue to be exempt from USDA licensing requirements.
Although the proposed rule is widely supported by animal-welfare groups including the ASPCA, the HSUS, and Best Friends Animal Society, there is one 'Champion of Dogs' who is against the legislation. The American Kennel Club, which has been accused by the HSUS of representing the interests of breeders over the interests of the actual dogs they 'champion,' is urging its membership to oppose the law.
If you've read any of the reports about how puppies are legally raised in commercial breeding facilities, or watched any of the videos online, (just google 'puppy mills') it is hard to imagine how this loophole has existed this long, let alone fathom why any animal welfare organization would oppose it.
The proposed rule comes on the heels of an HSUS investigation which it claims demonstrated widespread consumer fraud and abuse throughout the commercial puppy mill industry. The investigation’s findings led to a lawsuit against Purebred Breeders, LLC, which owns and operates almost 800 websites. The lawsuit alleges that the company uses deceptive sales practices to dupe unsuspecting consumers into purchasing dogs from puppy mills(View video footage of the investigation).
Although the proposed rule will not put an end to the suffering of breeding dogs in puppy mills, it will require thousands of previously unregulated commercial breeding facilities to finally be inspected and to conform to the (very) minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act.
Thank You for taking action for puppy mill dogs!