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This past Wednesday, lawmakers introduced an act to Congress that, they hope, will close current loopholes that exempt online puppy sellers from adhering to USDA licensing and regulation.
The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act – The PUPS Act (if passed) will require commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public via the internet, newspaper classifieds, or over the phone, to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The current Animal Welfare Act, a law written in 1966 to set standards of care for animals bred for commercial resale, has received criticism in recent years due to a lack of adapting to modern technology. Because of loopholes in the law, those breeders selling directly to consumers through new technologies – like the internet – that weren’t in place when the laws were written, have not had to comply with federal regulations and inspections. Basically, these animals are not even guaranteed their very basic needs to survive – clean water, food, shelter, veterinary care, exercise, etc.
Online puppy sellers are generally the worst of the worst puppy mills. These are the breeders whose dogs are kept in deplorable conditions, given only enough food and water to remain alive long enough to breed a litter of unhealthy puppies, never receiving veterinary care, not feeling a loving human touch, or the joy of feeling the grass beneath their paws. They are packed into rickety cages, standing in feces and urine, their nails untrimmed, illnesses untreated, and coats un-groomed – all because the laws have not been updated to include them.
As reported by USA Today, “Currently, abusive puppy mills are able to completely evade federal oversight by taking advantage of a pre-Internet loophole in current law, but the PUPS Act would change that,” says Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”Thousands of these mills have shifted online to evade the law.”
The PUPS Act will require any breeder that sells more than 50 dogs each year to adhere to regulations set forth by the Animal Welfare Act, and to undergo USDA inspections and licensing. The ACT will also require that all dogs be adequately exercised, at least one hour each day.
“The loophole in the Animal Welfare Act created by the Internet has resulted in widespread abuse of dogs in breeding facilities,” said Sam Farr, a Democratic Senator from California and one of the bill’s sponsors. “Leaving dogs crammed into small cages with no exercise or social contact goes against our humanity. The PUPS Act is necessary to end the abuses of puppy mills and restore the values of our society.”
Other sponsors of the PUPS Act include Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif.
To show your support for the PUPS Act, write to your congressman. Feel free to use the sample letter pasted below:
The U.S. Senate
The U.S. House of RepresentativesI respectfully urge you to co-sponsor the Puppy Uniform Protection Statute (PUPS) Act. This important measure will close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that currently allows large, commercial breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to escape licensing and regulation. In addition, this bill will require regular exercise at breeding facilities.
Puppy mills are among the most inhumane prisons imaginable. Helpless dogs are treated as literal puppy factories, forced to endure birth after birth without rest, exercise, proper nourishment, or basic veterinary care.
The PUPS Act’s edicts are modest, reasonable, and deserving of your full support. Thank you in advance for co-sponsoring the PUPS Act and working toward its swift passage.