Laws & Rules

Which Photo Is from a USDA-Licensed Breeder? 

Dog in cage Dog with matted fur Dog with tongue out Dog in cage

All of them!

That's right! All of these photographs were taken during routine inspections at USDA-licensed breeding facilities. While the conditions in these operations are often cruel and inhumane, they are commonplace, and some are even perfectly legal.

Learn about laws, licensing standards and how you can support legislation to help puppy mill dogs. 
Goldie's Act, named after a Golden Retriever who died in a horrific puppy mill in Iowa, would require the USDA to fulfill its obligation to protect dogs in puppy mills. Find out how you can support this legislation and prevent other puppy mill dogs from meeting Goldie's fate.
Pet sellers know that shoppers find comfort in the term “USDA-licensed breeder,” but this label isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Learn how federal law fails breeding dogs and view our gallery of USDA inspection photos that show how puppy mill dogs are really treated.
What is “cruelty”—and for that matter, what is a “breeder”? The answers vary from state to state. Something that’s illegal in one state may be perfectly acceptable somewhere else. What are the laws where you live?
See our in-depth reporting on commercial breeders and the USDA's policies.
Dogs in cage silhouette
In December 2022, a law was signed prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in New York pet stores. Learn about the groundbreaking legislation and when it will go into effect.

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