Puppy Mill Laws
In a stunning setback in their efforts to increase enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), USDA has suddenly reversed course and decided to, once again, tolerate substandard conditions at puppy mills. Dr. Chester Gipson, USDA’s chief of enforcement for the AWA, recently told animal advocates that the USDA needs “to enable breeders to sell their dogs to pet stores” and citing violations is an impediment to such sales.
In the past few years, many municipalities have enacted ordinances restricting pet stores to only purchasing puppies from breeders with no violations on their federal inspection reports. These ordinances are intended to protect consumers from buying dogs from substandard puppy mills.
Shockingly, USDA has made the decision to help substandard breeders circumvent these ordinances and to continue to sell puppies in spite of continuing violations. USDA has recently instructed their inspectors not to cite breeders for “minor” violations as such documentation is making it more difficult for breeders to sell their puppies. When questioned as to their definition of “minor,” or as to how many minor violations of the Animal Welfare Act will be ignored per facility, and for how long such violations will be tolerated, USDA responded that it will be left up to the individual inspector and admitted that no guidance has been provided for the inspectors.
At a recent meeting of dog breeders, USDA officials told breeders that, “if at any time a violation has the potential of affecting your business, please call our office immediately and let us know,” emphasizing that USDA stands ready to enable breeders to market their dogs to pet stores.
In an effort to further aide substandard dog breeders, USDA has hired a long-time puppy mill lobbyist and advocate, Julian Prager, to be its “Canine Advisor.” Mr. Prager’s duties will include assisting in the training of USDA inspectors. Ironically, Mr. Prager has consistently opposed all laws regulating puppy mills and vigorously opposed Pennsylvania’s new puppy mill law, and most recently, fought against implementation of USDA’s new regulations on puppy mills selling over the Internet. Mr. Prager also opposed a law to prevent puppy mill operators from performing surgeries such as C-sections and debarking on their own dogs. Julian Prager seated with AKC lobbyists. This year the AKC allocated $10,000 to oppose Missouri’s new puppy mill regulations. Yet, this is the individual that USDA has hired to assist in the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the law which regulates the same industry that Mr. Prager has served to promote and protect for several decades.
Please contact the Secretary of Agriculture and remind him that the AWA stands for the Animal Welfare Act and not the Dog Breeders Welfare Act. USDA’s sole focus, as mandated by Congress, should be on the welfare of the dogs and not the welfare of the substandard breeders’ businesses regardless of how the neglect of their animals is hurting them financially.
Contact Secretary Tom Vilsack at AgSec@usda.gov, leave a message at (202) 720-3631 or write him at:
Secretary Tom Vilsack
U. S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Below is an example of what to write in either email or snail mail correspondence to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack:
It has come to my attention, through a social media campaign, “Accountability
Now”, USDA inspectors are incorrectly issuing violations for commercial dog
breeders. USDA inspection reports show breeding dogs clearly suffering, and in
pain, and inspectors issuing indirect violations.
These breeding dogs need USDA inspectors to do their job correctly and enforce
the Animal Welfare Act.
The issue of incorrect reporting of violations was addressed in in the OIG 2010
report and a corrective plan put in place. Today this corrective
plan is clearly not effective.
The USDA’s 2015 Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan does not contain the
words dog, breeding, kennel or canine once in relation to the AWA, which only
appears four times in the 127-page document. Where do the commercial breeding
Advocates for breeding dogs across the country are becoming aware of this
monumental problem with USDA inspections and are calling on you, the Deputy
Administrator for Animal Care USDA APHIS to make the changes needed to protect
breeding dogs to the fullest extent the Animal Welfare Act allows.
The USDA is in charge of protecting commercial breeding dogs – aka: Puppy Mill breeding dogs. Through yearly inspections of kennels and breeding dogs therein the USDA inspectors issue violations of the Animal Welfare Act to the breeders.
This system has failed to protect breeding dogs from abuse and in humane conditions. Failure of this system has been documented by the Inspector General in scathing internal investigation reports as far back as 1992 and as recent as 2010.
Animal advocates are asking for ACCOUNTABILITY NOW!
A campaign has begun to sound the alarm and force USDA to retrain inspectors, correctly categorize violations as direct and indirect, issue monetary penalties when warranted, and enforce the Animal Welfare Act to the fullest extent of the law.
Please contact your state’s U.S. Senators and Congressional Representative and ask that they help with this very important campaign by sponsoring and supporting legislation holding the USDA accountable to the Animal Welfare Act – that they work across the aisle to see changes made. Send letters by mail, send emails, make phone calls. If you are a rescuer of a puppy mill breeding dog, tell your story and send pictures.
Please also contact:
Dr . Chester Gipson
USDA/APHIS /Animal Care
4700 River Road Unit 97
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
United States Secretary of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave S.W.
Washington, DC 20350
Please share this with everyone you know and ask them to be the voice for the helpless hopeless breeding dogs!
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy was joined by state legislators and puppy mill advocates for the signing of Public Act 14-77: An Act Concerning Certain Recommendations of the Task Force on the Sale of Cats and Dogs from Inhumane Origins at Connecticut Pet Shops.
The new state law will increase standards for Connecticut retail pet shops and breeders. Here is an overview of what the bill does:
- Require pet shops to reimburse customers for veterinarian expenses incurred to treat a dog or cat that becomes ill shortly after purchase from the shop (this now will cover the purchase price of the animal and veterinary costs).
- Prohibit pet shop licensees from purchasing dogs or cats from a breeder who has violated U.S. Department of Agriculture animal welfare regulations in the past two years.
- Require the state Commissioner of Agriculture to develop a standard of care applicable to in-state dog and cat breeders by Dec. 31, 2014.
- Require pet shops to post the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports for breeders of any dog offered for sale.
To view of the complete legislation, click here.
“There is evidence that puppy mills around the country have employed practices that any reasonable person would consider inhumane,” Malloy said while signing the legislation at a ceremony at the Greenwich Animal Shelter.
Suffolk County is the first municipality in New York State to regulate pet dealers and the source of the puppies they offer for sale to unknowing consumers. The “Puppy Mill Bill”, sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman and Legislator “Doc” Spencer passed the legislature unanimously on June 3rd, 2014 in Hauppauge.
The bill sets standards for cage size, how cages are stacked, and will require dealers to provide inspection reports of the breeding facilities on request as well as post publicly that that information is available.
The bill also bans dealers in the county from buying animals from commercial breeding facilities that have:
- A direct violation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which regulates breeders) within the past two years
- ‘No access’ violations on the two most recent inspection reports from the USDA
- Three or more different indirect violations, other than “no access violations,” on the most recent USDA reporter
- One or more recurring indirect violations on the most recent USDA report
There would also be a fine up to $500 per violation.
Barbara Dennihy, a local animal advocate spearheaded a movement to regulate pet dealers in Suffolk County in 2010. Along with other local animal advocates she went before Suffolk legislators asking for a ban on the sale of puppies in Suffolk County to combat puppy mill abuse. FOIL documents from New York State Agriculture Department show pet stores in Suffolk County source their puppies from horrible puppy mills some with horrible violations from the USDA against breeding dogs. Nothing could be done at that time because of an existing preemption in the NYS Agriculture law.
After a 3 year long campaign by animal advocates from all over New York State to get the preemption lifted, this past January Governor Cuomo signed a bill to lift the preemption allowing local municipalities to regulate pet dealers as long as they do not pass any bill to ban the retail sale of puppies that are raised in a safe and healthy manner. Before the ink was dry Barbara contacted Legislator Schneiderman and asked him to sponsor a bill to regulate pet dealers in Suffolk County. Working with local animal advocates and Schneiderman a bill was put together to regulate pet dealers. This is a first step in holding pet stores accountable. They can no longer hide the source of the puppies they sell. The real end to this horrible business practice lies with the consumers. They need to stop buying puppies from retail stores and over the internet.
“If you cannot meet the parents or at least the mother of the puppy, see the condition of the kennel the dogs live in, see the veterinary records for the parent dogs, and check references – then you should not purchase that puppy. If you do, you are probably supporting puppy mill cruelty. Pet stores use puppy mills to get puppies, that is a fact.”
My husband and I joined this effort near the tail end to help where we were able. We do not just get involved with awareness and fundraising, but on the legislation level too! My heart is full today!
As Puppy Mills continue to take center stage in animal welfare efforts, new laws are popping up around the country – from Chicago to New York, and now in Minnesota. As of July 1st, 2014 Minnesota will see the first of their puppy mill laws go into effect. Samantha Bohn, a columnist with the St Cloud Times and parent of a puppy mill survivor, wrote this wonderful piece on what it means for those in the puppy mill industry and what it will mean for the state.
From the St. Cloud Times…
A new era is beginning for cats and dogs bred in Minnesota. Beginning July 1, all commercial breeders of cats or dogs in the state must obtain a license to operate. Signed May 20 by Gov. Mark Dayton, the new regulations on commercial breeding operations set a precedent in our state.
Prior to these new regulations, Minnesota had no laws to license, inspect or regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. With this new law, breeders must not only obtain a license, they will also face inspections — both before a license can be issued and at least annually thereafter. The law also stipulates that animals be provided “daily enrichment” with “positive physical contact with human beings and compatible animals at least twice daily.”
These stipulations, among others, are aimed at preventing unethical operations that breed cats and dogs in literal filth with little to no adequate shelter, food, water or veterinary care. Not to mention, so-called “puppy mills” are notorious for poor breeding itself, resulting in deformed, unhealthy animals.
As an owner of a puppy mill dog that was discarded either by the facility or its previous owners, and as witness of the atrocities by puppy mills, I am fervently in favor of increased regulation of breeders. Ethical breeders in the state providing appropriate care and facilities shouldn’t fear the law. This law is meant to prevent unscrupulous breeders who enter into breeding purely for profit and do so at the expense of their animals’ lives and well-being.
If you haven’t witnessed puppy mills firsthand, I invite you to perform a Web search of puppy mills. These atrocities occur in Minnesota. In fact, depending on who or which organization you talk to, you might hear Minnesota at the top of the list of the most notorious states for puppy mills.
Recently, The Humane Society of the United States released a sampling of “problem puppy mills” in the U.S. The organization listed five breeding facilities in Minnesota, one as close as Eden Valley.
Minnesota made history last month, and I hope it will continue to do so in the area of animal rights. These new regulations — along with one enacted this year working to offer a second life to animals used in research facilities — are a small but paramount step in the direction of a more ethical, progressive society that protects its most vulnerable.
Thank you to Samantha Bohn for writing this important piece. Click here to visit it on the St Cloud Times website. Samantha welcomes comments and suggestions, and she encourages readers to submit pet questions she can explore at email@example.com.
Are you interested in helping rescue discarded puppy mill breeding dogs? Visit www.milldogrescue.org