The idea of a puppy mill makes dog lovers shudder because we know the horrific conditions that these innocent animals face for the sake of profit. Now, two US Representatives are trying to pass laws that would make it more difficult for irresponsible breeders to continue their practices.
Just a couple days ago, Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) unveiled two bills to make waves in this widely under-regulated industry.
The Welfare of Our Friends (WOOF) Act (H.R. 4691), would prevent breeders with suspended or revoked licenses from continuing their business by having someone with a different name — but living in the same address — obtain a new license. According to the ASPCA:
“Right now, it is possible for suspended or revoked breeders to evade enforcement by having family members apply for a new license, allowing the same business to continue as usual—terrible conditions and all.”
The second bill, known as the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 4693), would call for higher standards of breeders and their facilities. The ASPCA explains:
“Importantly, the bill mandates that dogs must have completely solid flooring with enough space to stand, access to nutritious food and drinkable water, adequate exercise, critical socialization and veterinary care. These new standards would be a real stride toward ensuring that dogs in commercial breeding facilities live less terrible lives.”
To those of us who care about animals, it’s unthinkable to know that it’s currently legal for dogs to be cramped in stacked metal crates that don’t even have solid flooring, and that veterinary care isn’t even mandatory. So while these proposed bills may seem like no-brainers, the fact that they’re not already laws is truly abhorrent. It’s certainly time that laws like these get passed, which will enable law enforcement to seek out and penalize puppy mill breeders.
Currently, the minimal federal regulations of puppy mills include the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which was originally passed in 1966 to regulate the treatment of laboratory animals. The law states that operations with three or more breeding females who sell puppies to pet stores or puppy brokers must be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While this may sound promising, loose USDA regulations mean that breeders can still obtain and keep their licenses despite what many would be consider to be neglectful conditions.
“Under the AWA, it is legal to keep a dog in a cage only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, with a wire floor, stacked on top of another cage, for the dog’s entire life. Conditions that most people would consider inhumane, or even cruel, are often legal.”
As you can probably guess, this means that a breeder that is “USDA licensed” is not necessarily a responsible one.
Additional laws have been implemented by certain states, but for most, regulations are sadly still lacking. Twenty-one states–nearly half of the US–have no laws on commercial dog breeders, and, according to the ASPCA, many others only require them to be licensed and inspected according to the lax USDA standards. What’s more, the differences in state legislation allow for breeders to travel between borders in order to avoid laws that are “inconvenient” to their businesses.
Rep. Fitzpatrick said in an ASPCA article.
“It’s crucial we stand up for animals—both as individuals and as a society…As a member of the Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”
Rep. Crist added,
“The Bible teaches us to care for all of God’s creatures, and that includes man’s best friend. Proud to join in introducing bipartisan legislation that protects dogs from unprincipled dealers and breeders, providing a voice for the voiceless.”
We want to join the ASPCA in thanking Reps. Fitzpatrick and Crist for finally passing these laws in an effort to minimize puppy mill breeding. We can only hope it will be the crucial step towards abolishing this horrific practice for good.
Feature Image: ASPCA via Facebook
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