Goldie’s Act: Federal Legislation to Protect Dogs in Puppy Mills

Goldie’s Act (H.R. 1788) is 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. When the 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. That nightmarish place is where Goldie spent her life. Inspectors witnessed Goldie’s condition worsen over the course of 2021, but they didn’t help her. The agency failed her and the many other dogs who died in that puppy mill.

Emergency rescue happened only due to massive public pressure and intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). But by that time, the breeder had already amassed over 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

At a separate breeding facility in Virginia, the USDA documented horrific animal suffering for months, but did not intervene. Hundreds of puppies died from “unknown causes,” nursing mothers were denied food for days, dogs were left with severe, untreated medical conditions, dogs were killed due to unsafe housing, and dogs were euthanized without anesthesia. Just like the Iowa case, emergency rescue occurred only after the DOJ intervened. Only then did the remaining 4,000 dogs at this facility experience relief.

Despite knowing that thousands of dogs were suffering in extreme pain, the USDA impeded inspectors from visiting this facility, removed the lead inspector without cause, and struck 80 pages from the inspection report. Even after 70 AWA violations, the USDA allows this company to continue breeding and selling dogs.

It’s too late to save Goldie and the thousands of other dogs who died in dreadful conditions under the USDA’s watch, but we can prevent other dogs from meeting the same fate by passing Goldie’s Act.

Goldie’s Act would require the USDA to fulfill its obligation under the 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.

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:

Goldie's Act is supported by dozens of independent organizations around the nation, including:

View OrganizationsMinnesota Humane Society, MN
Homeward Bound, Addison County's Humane Society, VT
Pennington County Humane Society, MN
Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, CA
Tails Humane Society, IL
Wadena County Humane Society, MN
Adopt a Golden Atlanta, GA
Pawnee County Humane Society, KS
PawSafe Animal Rescue, CT
Michigan Humane, MI
Secondhand Hounds, MN
Great River Rescue, MN
Retrieve a Golden from the Midwest, MN
Nebraska Humane Society, NE
Savannah Wildlife Rescue Center, GA
Fearless Kitty Rescue, AZ
Pope County Humane Society, MN
Lake City Humane Society, FL
Carver Scott Humane Society, MN
Humane Society of Greene County, PA
Paws and More, IA
Kings Harvest Pet Rescue, IA
Rescue a Golden of Arizona, AZ
It Takes A Village Animal Rescue and Resources, IA
Cedar Valley Humane Society, IA
The Spayed Club, PA
Unconditional Love Pet Rescue, AR
Oregon Humane Society, OR 
Old Blue, CA 
Pitter Pat Junction, AR
SPCA Westchester, NY
Animal Welfare Institute, USA
Animal Rescue League of Iowa, IA
Animal Legal Defense Fund, USA
Voters for Animal Rights, NY
Colorado Humane Society, CO
Brown County Humane Society, inc., IN
Woodhaven Rescue Farm, IN
SPCA of Brevard, FL
Shadow’s Fund, CA
National Animal Care and Control Association, USA
The Good Shepherd Humane Society, Inc., AR
Humane Society of Saline County, AR
North Carolina Animal Federation, NC
Gypsy Heritage Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, OK
Operation:SNIP Inc., FL
Stover Animal Rescue, Inc., MO
Greener Days Ahead Rescue, AR
Fallen Oak Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, FL
Humane Society of Manatee County, FL
For the Love of Cats, FL
Tri County Animal Rescue, FL
Northeast Arkansas Humane Society, AR
Dane County Humane Society, WI
The Cat Network, Inc., FL
Stone County Humane Society, AR
Second Chance Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, FL
Tiny Acres Northwest Florida Inc., FL
Sunny Side Up Rescue, FL
National Sheriff's Association, USA
Small & Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association, USA
Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association, PA
Shepherd's Rest Goat and Sheep Rescue, NE
Humane Society of Elmore County, AL
Dolly's Legacy Animal Rescue, NE
Midwest Wheaten Rescue, NE
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, DC
Owl Hollow Farm (501C.3), MO

Inclusion on this endorsement list does not imply partnership with the ASPCA.

If you represent an organization that wishes to join this list of endorsers, please do so here.