Federal lawmakers reintroduced legislation Wednesday to close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allows online dog sellers to operate outside its regulations of animal care. Titled the PUPS Act, for “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act,” the measure has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
“Puppy mills are large-scale, commercial breeding operations where dogs are commonly housed in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions. The current law allows large, commercial breeders who sell puppies online or directly to the public to escape the licensing and inspection requirements that apply to breeders selling dogs to pet stores,” says a press release from the Humane Society of the United States, a lobbying group for animal welfare pushing the bill.
The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966 to regulate the treatment of animals in research and exhibition. Since the rise of the Internet, online dog breeders have generally been exemption from these regulations.
“The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities” Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, a cosponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases. This bipartisan bill requires breeders who sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to obtain a license from the USDA and ensures that the dogs receive proper care.”
“Dogs shouldn’t be treated like a cash crop,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said. “The federal law regarding the care of dogs at commercial dog-breeding operations needs an overhaul, and this legislation will correct some of the worst gaps and deficiencies in current law.”
Included in the bill is a mandate for the dogs to exercise daily, since breeding dogs typically live their lives in cages with little socialization.
“We want all breeders to play by the same rules so that everyone who wants to welcome a new dog into their family can do so with the confidence of knowing that the animal has been cared for properly,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach.
“This legislation will ensure dogs are protected and individuals who put profit ahead of the fair and humane treatment of dogs are held accountable for their actions,” Gerlach continued.
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