Victory! New Rule Brings Internet Puppy Breeders under Federal Oversight

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:15am

Every year, thousands of puppies are sold over the Internet and shipped to consumers like any other product. Websites advertising happy, healthy puppies commonly conceal a grim reality: They’re often fronts for puppy mills—large-scale, commercial breeding operations that rear dogs in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions with complete disregard for the animals’ wellbeing. Breeding dogs typically spend their entire lives in tiny, wire-bottomed cages churning out litters of puppies until they can no longer reproduce. All of this happens hidden from public view because outdated laws haven’t applied to Internet breeders. Until now.

Today, the USDA steps into the Internet age by issuing a rule that brings breeders selling animals to consumers sight-unseen under the regulatory umbrella of the Animal Welfare Act. That means for the first time, USDA inspectors will be laying eyes on animals who have been ignored for too long.

It also means that the ASPCA will be able to provide the public with a window into Internet breeding facilities through our No Pet Store Puppies campaign. The No Pet Store Puppies site boasts over 10,000 photos taken by USDA inspectors at licensed breeding facilities, allowing you to see where pet store puppies really come from. Once the USDA begins inspecting Internet sellers, we will be able to expose the bleak lives of puppies sold over the Internet, too.

We commend the USDA and the Obama Administration for taking this long-awaited step, and we thank you and the more than 350,000 supporters who told the USDA how crucial this rule is. 

For more information about puppy mills and to see the conditions captured by USDA inspectors, please visit   

Take Action!
It’s important to let government officials know when we think they’ve done a good job—it also never hurts to remind them that animal welfare is important to their constituents. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center right now to quickly thank the USDA and President Obama for taking steps to protect our nation’s long-suffering puppy mill dogs.

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It doesn't. Flea markets sales are done face to face. I could have a sick dogs in filthy conditions but if I sell face to face (such as at a flea market) AWA does not apply.


Can you please post the court's ruling.


YES! So does this include breeders who sell dogs on line? Just want to make sure I understand the law correctly before getting too excited!


I don't understand why the owner's license will be revoked 3 years !!! 3 years !! really!!!! never never again this owner should have a license !!!!


I think that pet stores should get together with rescues and shelters and sell the pets that need homes with a certain percentage going to the rescue or shelter.


I agree with all the comments. I think profit for life should be forbiden by law, period. If people cannot "sell" life (animals) legally, at least the business would not be as attractive for puppy breaders. There should only be a contribution to shelters (as it is today), to help pay their medical bills, etc., but not profit for life. Regards.


I totally agree with this idea. I've had 4 rescues, our first was a 3 1/2 year old Bichon who was emaciated at 50% body weight when we took him from what appears to have been an irresponsible humane society in NJ. Max was a wonderful dog, who happened to have housebreaking issues, common to the breed. He was a great companion and fit in with our two older Bichons who were pet store purchases. Max lived to 13 and died from a burst spleen and heart failure. He was the mayor of our community, everyone loved him.
Since then we have rescued 2 Havanese and a Coton, flying across the country to pick them up from foster families working with legitimate rescue organizations, like HALO. Though these pups were pricey (the donations help defray costs for future rescues), all 3 are great dogs. With thousands or available dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds available on, future pet owners can find whatever they are looking for. They can save the life of a discarded pet, or provide a home for a new rescued puppy. I am sure that if PETCO and PetSmart prominently displayed ads for on their windows, and their website, a significant percentage of future pet families would choose to seek out a pet from this option. Tens of Thousands are available at all times, with a constant replenishment in our disposable society.
If you cut of the demand from pet stores who trade in puppy mill pets, the incentive to stay in this disgusting puppy mill business will begin to fade. I was working in Winston Salem and I went to buy a puppy in the back woods of North Carolina 25 years ago. The breeders looked like they came out of the movie Deliverance. The pups and their parents were bred and housed in wooden chicken coops in the woods that couldn't have been more than a few feet high. No windows, no air circulating. I could see the building from afar and hear the barking. I gave the "breeder" his $600 and took the dog with me back north and to my Veterinarian. The pup had two luxating patellas and my Vet told me it should have never been allowed to live after birth. I brought the dog back the next week, was met with a shotgun and told there was nothing wrong with the dog. I told them I wanted another, but they didn't have any other Bichons. I gave them back the dog, they said no refunds, just a credit for another dog (who would want another dog?) and they said they'd sell her again within a week to someone who knew what a dog was! I should have never given them the dog, but I didn't have enough money for the two operations that were needed, and the vet care that would have been required going forward. Lesson learned. From that point on, rescues only, eventually through reputable organizations who will detail all of the medical issues associated with the rescue before you take the leap.
Save a dog! Save a few. It's a great feeling, and they somehow know you did.


Most shelter dogs are mutts. Some people want a purebred dog. I don't see this as a solution. Next, our gvmt will be outlawing purebred dogs. This is just another step to take what rights we have away. The puppy mills will still be able to produce as usual. USDA just wants to make sure they get $$$. Just because USDA is involved, does not mean a business is doing a great job. USDA likes puppies in small wire cage bottomed pens. They are a huge part of the problem.


Agreed. USDA facility standards are NOT good for dogs. Anyone who reads through the regulations and thinks the described facility is the ideal place to raise a puppy doesn't know anything about dogs.


Well done ASPCA. Glad to see this finally go through. Now to get those inspections up and running to save these poor animals.