Puppy mills are inhumane, commercial breeding facilities that produce puppies for the pet trade. Puppy mill operators sell puppies in pet stores, over the Internet, at flea markets, and even in parking lots, often to unknowing consumers. While the puppies escape many of the routine horrors that define puppy mills, the breeding dogs often live their entire lives in small, wire cages, with very little food, water or veterinary care, in order to maximize operators’ profits. When dogs can no longer produce puppies, they are often discarded or killed.
That may be about to change. The United States Department of Agriculture recently proposed an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act regulations that will level the playing field for pet-producing businesses by bringing those who sell to the public “sight unseen” — over the Internet, by phone or mail — in line with providing the same minimum standards of care as those who sell to pet stores. Simply requiring those selling sight unseen to have a federal license and be inspected signals hope for the millions of dogs who suffer in puppy mills all across the country. Especially in states like South Carolina which have no animal cruelty law specifically addressing puppy mills, this federal regulation is critical. The rule will not affect small, responsible breeders, who already far exceed the minimum standards of the AWA, because they typically sell puppies directly to people who visit them in person.
Through July 16, readers can support the proposed rule at humanesociety.org/USDApuppymills or mail comments to:
Docket No. APHIS-2011-
0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118,
Riverdale, MD, 20737-1238
South Carolina State Director
Johns Island, S.C.