A Pivotal Moment in the Fight Against Puppy Mill Cruelty

December 21, 2023

ASPCA Staff member holding two small dogs

Nearly 60 years ago, Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to ensure that animals in federally licensed facilities, including dogs used to produce puppies in commercial breeding facilities, are provided humane care and treatment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorized to create standards of care, license and inspect facilities, investigate suspected abuse, penalize violators, and cooperate with federal, state and local agencies to assist in compliance of the law.

However, today—and for far too long—the USDA has failed the animals it’s supposed to protect.

Years of documentation shows the agency turning a blind eye to cruelty and suffering. The USDA is required by law to report violations and to stop inhumane operators from continuing cruel practices. However, despite observing thousands of violations at licensed commercial dog-breeding facilities, the agency rarely imposes penalties or deterrents. Such poor enforcement has resulted in chronic animal suffering.

This is a crucial moment.

The Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation that identifies the nation’s agricultural priorities and reaffirms the USDA’s responsibilities. By including Goldie’s Act in the Farm Bill, Congress can direct the USDA toward stronger, more meaningful enforcement, as intended and supported by the AWA.

On December 18, 2023, we sent a letter [PDF] to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees respectfully urging that Goldie’s Act be included in the Farm Bill. In solidarity, more than 100 organizations around the country, ranging from animal welfare to law enforcement to shelters, signed the letter in strong support of Goldie’s Act.

Just three days earlier, the leaders of the bill in Congress—Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), and Zach Nunn (R-IA)—sent a letter [PDF] to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) with the same urgent request to include Goldie’s Act in the Farm Bill and ensure that the AWA is adequately enforced.

Goldie’s Act is a bipartisan, commonsense solution that would end harmful agency policies [PDF] and clarify the USDA’s responsibilities to prevent ongoing animal suffering and sometimes abuse. It would require the agency to conduct better, more frequent inspections for all licensed facilities, provide lifesaving intervention for suffering animals, impose meaningful penalties for violations, and promote timely communication with law enforcement in circumstances of suspected cruelty and neglect.

We are confident that Goldie’s Act will make a difference for hundreds of thousands of animals around the country. Learn more and urge your members of Congress to support Goldie’s Act.