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 All of this happens hidden from public view because outdated laws haven’t applied to Internet breeders.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 NoPetStorePuppies.com.
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.
Nearly a decade ago the State of California took a bold stand to ban the production and sale of foie gras, a luxury food item produced by shoving pipes down birds’ throats several times a day to force-feed them until their livers become fatty and diseased.
Major retailers including Safeway, Target and Costco refuse to sell foie gras and, according to one poll, nearly three-quarters of Americans want to see it banned nationwide. But as the implementation date of the California ban neared, it was not surprising that some groups rose up to challenge the law, taking their case all the way to federal court.
Thankfully, this week we were greeted with the news that theFederal Appeals Court decided unanimously to uphold the lower court’s support of the foie gras ban. The three- judge panel recognized that California’s ban was not unconstitutional, as foie gras producers claim. This decision is a big win for the victimized birds and for animal advocates.
After the ruling, foie gras producers defiantly insisted that “nobody is being harmed by foie gras” and announced they will continue their fight to end the ban. But for the time being, California’s ban on foie gras remains happily and firmly in place.
In New York State, local governments are not permitted to regulate commercial dog breeders and pet stores—only the state Department of Agriculture and Markets can do that under New York’s “pet dealer” law. This is highly unusual: We don’t know of any other state that expressly forbids its towns from having higher animal-care standards or holding pet stores more accountable for their practices.
Unfortunately, a decade’s worth of evidence overwhelmingly shows that New York State cannot adequately monitor pet dealers—especially breeders doing “business” in their homes and over the Internet. State officials struggle even to locate commercial breeding premises, much less inspect them!
Fortunately, a bill (A.740-A/S.3573-A) passed by the Legislature in June will allow commercial pet breeders and pet stores to come back under local oversight! This bill is a win for New York’s animals and for you; it’s your tax dollars that foot the bill for the investigations, animal cruelty seizures, sheltering costs and legal proceedings that are often the fallout from allowing New York’s pet industry to go practically unregulated.
Take Action! If you live in New York, please take a moment to call Governor Cuomo at (518) 474-8390 and urge him to allow local governments to protect themselves against unscrupulous dog sellers and breeders by signing A.740-A/S.3573-A into state law. New Yorkers should also email the governor from our Advocacy Alert.
The pet industry is hard at work urging him to veto the bill, so your voice must be heard now! Thank you, New York!
BSL is counterproductive. Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of restricted breeds often attempt to hide their “outlaw” dogs by restricting time outdoors and even limiting vet visits. Actions like these, taken to avoid detection, can have negative consequences for both public and canine health.
Studies have concluded that correctly identifying a dog’s breed based on looks alone is a hit-or-miss proposition—and the confusion only grows when dealing with mixed breeds, so these laws are difficult to enforce. Additionally, animal control officers in jurisdictions with BSL end up spending too much time enforcing breed bans instead of routine enforcement of dog licensing laws, leash laws and other regulations that require owners to control their dogs−regardless of breed.
The ASPCA is currently fighting breed discrimination in Massachusetts and Maryland. On the national scale, residents of public housing funded by the federal government are often impacted by rules that unfairly restrict the breeds they may own. The Obama Administration’s statement should instruct federal agencies to review their policies to be sure they don’t allow flawed regulations and breed bans. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to help fight BSL in your area!
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By joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you will receive important alerts from us when we need your help to fight for laws against animal cruelty.
The First Family, heeding President Truman’s maxim that if you want a friend in Washington, you should get a dog, did just that—they’ve added Sunny, a second Portuguese Water Dog, to their home in the White House! The family made a donation to the Washington (D.C.) Humane Society in Sunny’s honor, a lovely gesture that recognizes the important work shelters do for our communities and animals.
With Sunny and Bo, President Obama is able to make a difference in the lives of two dogs. However, the President has an opportunity to make an even bigger difference for thousands of dogs living in our country’s many large-scale, commercial breeding facilities. Last year, the USDA proposed a rule that, for the first time, would require large-scale commercial breeders that sell pets over the Internet (or conduct other sight-unseen sales) to be licensed and inspected under the federal Animal Welfare Act. Many of these commercial breeders are puppy mills—large-scale breeding operations that place profit over the well-being of their dogs.
Even though the ASPCA and our partners helped deliver 350,000 public comments in support, the Obama Administration has been slow to release the final rule. Another regulation preventing the importation of young puppies from foreign puppy mills has been in the pipeline for several years, and we urge the President to implement this new law immediately as well. By ensuring that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases its final rules on puppy importation and domestic puppy mills/online dog sales, President Obama can help protect dogs who aren’t as lucky as Bo and Sunny.