Goldie’s Act: Federal Legislation to Protect Dogs in Puppy Mills
Goldie’s Act was named after Golder Retriever #142, who was a victim of one of the most egregious puppy mill cases we have seen to date. She lived without clean food and water, space to play, and love. She didn’t even have a name until we gave her one when we learned about her and the heartbreaking way she died.
In November 2021, the ASPCA helped rescue more than 500 dogs from a commercial puppy-breeder in Iowa that was licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and supplied puppies to pet stores around the country. The USDA allowed this facility to operate for 17 months without ever checking on the welfare of the animals there. When USDA finally inspected the facility, they found dead dogs, dogs with untreated injuries and illnesses like parvovirus and distemper, dogs with painful fur matting, dogs in cages that were too small, insect infestations and moldy food. The emergency intervention and rescue happened only due to massive public pressure and after the breeder amassed over 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
That nightmarish place is where Goldie spent her life. Even though USDA inspectors witnessed Goldie’s condition get worse over the course of 2021—and they didn’t help her—the agency failed her and the many other dogs who died in that puppy mill.
It’s too late to save Goldie, but we can prevent other dogs from meeting her fate by passing Goldie’s Act.
Goldie’s Act would require the USDA to fulfill its obligation under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to protect dogs in puppy mills—a responsibility the USDA has ignored for far too long.
The legislation would require the USDA to:
- Conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections of the facilities it licenses.
- Confiscate dogs who are suffering.
- Impose deterring penalties for AWA violations.
- Share inspection information in a timely manner with local law enforcement who can investigate cruelty.
Unfortunately, Goldie’s fate is all too common. Numerous federal audits over the past decade have revealed uncorrected, deep and systemic flaws in enforcement that have allowed many bad commercial breeders to continue profiting off of cruelty.
The USDA is required to identify and report violations of the law during inspections so that those who violate the law may be held accountable through the use of penalties provided for in the AWA, such as fines and license revocation.
Contrary to this Congressional mandate, the USDA has chosen not to report violations and to let inhumane operators continue their cruel practices. The agency has not imposed a single penalty against a licensed commercial breeding facility since 2017, despite overwhelming evidence of cruelty. Instead, the agency has adopted a “customer service” approach—with the breeders being the “customers”—that has been proven ineffective by the agency’s own audit. With no enforcement, we can never hope to help the dogs who suffer behind the closed doors of these federally licensed facilities.
Congress must pass Goldie’s Act to protect dogs like Goldie in puppy mills.
To read more about the USDA’s pattern of failing to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities, please visit these links:
- Major Newspaper Exposes USDA’s Failure to Protect Animals, August 2019 (WaPo Ruby Fur Farm)
- USDA Enforcement of Animal Welfare Act Continues to Plummet, May 2020
- The USDA Is Letting Puppy Mills Operate Without Inspections, October 2020
- USDA Fails to Ensure “Licensed” Animal Businesses Have Met Licensing Requirements, March 2021
- 20 Violations Over Five Years—How the USDA Keeps Bad Puppy Mills in Business, April 2020
- Shocking Cruelty at Licensed Puppy Mills Provokes No Response from the USDA, April 2021
- ASPCA Lawsuit blog, June 2021