Attention, animal lovers: A recently introduced bill aims to stop certain puppy mills from avoiding licensing and federal inspection—and it needs your support!
If passed, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act will require any breeder that sells or offers to sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Right now, only breeders who sell their dogs to puppy brokers or pet stores are required to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. government, while those that sell directly to the public—over the Internet or otherwise—are not. But the PUPS Act would change that, closing a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allows commercial breeders that sell puppies directly to the public to duck those licensing and inspection requirements.
“It’s crucial for people to understand that in many states, no one is checking up on these facilities,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “As the ASPCA has seen firsthand, the photos of happy, healthy puppies posted on a breeder’s website often grossly misrepresent what conditions are really like for these puppies and their parents.”
On March 10, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team members arrived in Fulton County, New York, to assist the Montgomery County SPCA with a critical hoarding intervention. Nearly 100 dogs—including Pit Bulls, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas and Lab mixes—were discovered living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on a property owned by two women.
Many of the dogs were forced to live in filthy crates, while others were found roaming the home. Food and water were scarce, and many of the animals were clearly malnourished. The dogs were also suffering from a host of ailments, including skin and eye infections. Several also tested positive for heartworm—a condition that takes at least six weeks to treat.
“The owners took in unwanted dogs from across the country, many from the South,” says Jeff Eyre, ASPCA Northeast Regional Director of Field Investigations and Response. “In this case, the women became overwhelmed by the number of dogs in their care—they obviously needed help and voluntarily gave us custody of the animals."
With the generous assistance of local law enforcement, the team placed the animals with various partner animal welfare agencies including the SPCA Serving Erie County, Columbia Greene Humane Society, Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester, Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society, and the Montgomery County SPCA.
"Thanks to the combined efforts of our partner agencies, these dogs now have a second chance at life," says Eyre.
Last night, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents arrested Brooklyn resident Monique Smith for fatally injuring an adult female hamster. During a heated argument with a family member, the 19-year-old squeezed the hamster with her bare hands and threw the pet across the street.
“Inflicting such severe injury on a helpless hamster signals the potential for violence directed at other vulnerable victims,” says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for the Humane Law Enforcement. “Fortunately in New York, all pets, even hamsters, are covered under the felony animal cruelty law.”
The deceased hamster was taken by Agents to the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital for a necropsy. Results revealed that the small animal had suffered blunt force trauma, liver damage and an associated hemorrhage.
Smith was arrested by Special Agent Patrick Breen. She was charged with one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony; one count of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor; and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
Take Action We need you on our side! If you suspect an animal may be the victim of neglect or abuse, please report it. Visit our Report Cruelty FAQ to learn how to report cruelty in your neighborhood.
Last November, the citizens of the State of Missouri passed an ASPCA-supported ballot resolution (Proposition B) to increase regulations for commercial dog breeders and implement humane care standards for the dogs living in the state’s thousands of puppy mills. The state’s legislature was not in session at the time, but after Prop B’s victory, there were immediate rumblings of discontent from some state senators and representatives—and sure enough, as soon as the Missouri General Assembly convened in January, several bills were introduced with the intent to weaken or fully repeal the law enacted by Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (PMCPA). The PMCPA is scheduled to go into effect this November.
The situation in Missouri is coming to a head this week. Completely disregarding the will of the people, last night the Missouri Senate took the first step toward approving Senate Bill 113—a bill to roll back every humane provision of the PMCPA—which indicates that they will probably pass the bill. A final vote is expected on Thursday, March 10. During yesterday’s debate, senators rejected an amendment that would have referred their new, weak commercial breeding law back to the ballot for Missouri voters to weigh in on.
The Missouri House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a similar bill, HB 131. For either bill to become law, it needs approval in both chambers of the General Assembly, and it is expected that Senate Bill 113 will move through the House very quickly after it is passed by the Senate. The ASPCA has been emailing our supporters in Missouri regularly, imploring them to call their state senators and representatives to express outrage at the legislature’s dismissal of the popular vote on this issue and to urge legislators to vote no on any bill that would weaken or repeal the PMCPA.
We know the rest of the country is keeping a close eye on Missouri, as what happens there will likely set the stage for puppy mill reform nationwide. Please stay tuned and be sure to read this week’s News Alert for the latest developments from the Missouri General Assembly—developments that could quite possibly spell doom for the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.