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 All of this happens hidden from public view because outdated laws haven’t applied to Internet breeders.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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Carole Behle

Thank you ASPCA for your amazing dedication to our best friends, love all of you! Also thanks to the USDA and our President for supporting this important issue!


I am glad this step has been taken. Another move in the right direction to responsible breeding. Finally the government is coming into the digital age.


Make sure you have thorough and hard driven inspectors! If they don't mean business.. this will fail... Flea market puppies... Keep your eyes open!!! This is a great start...... and thanks to all who supported this!


This is not a win. This is a disgrace. Has anyone actually read over what this actually covers and regulates? The new regulations only punish and place heavy restrictions on small scale, responsible breeders who title, health test and place breeding restrictions on dogs they place. It also places similar restrictions, licensing requirements and regulations on small rescues and transporters!

It does NOTHING to stop large scale puppy mills from selling online because they classify many of them as PET STORES if they market the animals specifically for unrestricted BREEDING stock, and thus places them outside of the scope of the AWA. And should they desire to market as pets, all they need to do is pay for a license, does nothing to limit the thousands of puppies those entities churn out a year. Money makes it all better I guess.

They penalize breeders who show and title, they count co-owned and "breedable" pet animals in the breeding animal count, even when no intent is present to breed. So if you have a female parakeet in the house the wording allows for it to be counted. And for those that don't know, co-ownership help responsible breeders PREVENT irresponsible breeding of potential breeding quality animals they produce. It also penalizes breeders that breed multi-purpose animals (for example a small breeder whose dogs work, show and breed) but if you breed SOLELY to sell the animals as breeding stock, such as to a puppy mill... You're exempt.

And it penalizes breeders whose dogs are first and foremost loved members of the family, over breeders who keep their dogs kenneled the majority of the time (like a puppy mill). It FAVORS commercial breeding and the treatment of pets as merchandise. This regulation isn't targeted at puppy mills at all.

And for the person that mentioned flea market puppies, those sellers are exempt since they sell face to face.

The primary individuals that will be curbed by this, are show and working breeders who title, work, health test and screen homes but who network and transport site unseen with people they work with consistently and who may have more than 4 intact female ANIMALS, whether breeding or not.

Face it, nothing about this new rule is out of concern for animal welfare. Its just over-reaching regulations that will be difficult to enforce and does little to target the issue it is supposedly intended to remedy.

Its also a good way to encourage prospective pet homes to buy from mills and BYB since obtaining dogs from reputable breeders will become more difficult. Great way to weed out the competition for the bad breeders and mills. I'm very disappointed in how the new changes have turned out.


Thank you for posting your prospective! We all KNOW puppy mills (and backyard breeders) need to be stopped but I agree with you that this law targets and penalizes REPUTABLE breeders. It is such a shame this law will not do what it is intended to do.

Brigitte Stern

Dani, Get informed and get some compassion!!! This page is probably not the place for you Dani... I'm sure you can find a different forum somewhere with others backyard breeders supporters, who wants to smack talk the people who actually care about ANIMALS, and want to educate why they should or shouldn't choose certain breeders! You're not the first backyard breeder who has made the mistake and found she was barking up the wrong tree....Tens of thousands of dogs suffering in substandard, filthy, and overcrowded cages for years on end will finally get the protection they deserve as a result of a rule the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopted few days ago, and you're giving me sad story about the future of the small/hobby breeders who will be force to close their doors because the new regulations.........SHAME ON YOU!
Finally a small victory for the Animals!!! So don't you dare take away from their hope for the better future!

Brigitte Stern

Why my comments are despairing ???

Debbie M

in a way i think this is a great idea to stop puppy mills but for people who are not puppy mills and do not hold dogs in captivity, for breeding purposes,. but who's dogs have one litter of pups and they need good homes for them their should be some lee-way.


Why don't you just go house to house take all the animals from everyone and just kill them all. This is like the war on drugs, it will not stop. Commercial breeders yes they should be stopped, period. What about the small breeder that cares greatly for their breed and do everything they can to breed sound happy dogs and place them in great homes. This law is unfair to them, period. Please read the law and see exactly what it says. Hidden agenda is always written into these so called great bills that pass. WAKE UP YOU BUNCH OF SHEEP!!!!!!!

Jane Williams

Thank you but personally, I won't be happy until the cruel practice of puppy mills is against the law.