USDA Oversight of Puppy Mills – FAIL!

by Mary Haight on May 27, 2010

We know the drill. We’ve heard it repeatedly. The USDA fails over and over again to enforce Animal Welfare laws. Puppy mills and bad actors get fines dismissed, continue to operate with no loss of income, the animals sit in filthy cages, sick, wounded, dying, and the USDA just keeps shuffling paper.

John Woestendiek of Ohmidog! said a new report released May 26 by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General  blames “lax enforcement” noting an Oklahoma case where 27 dogs died at a puppy mill.  The place had been inspected on multiple occasions and was cited for 29 violations in less than one year.  What kind of horrific infraction must occur before puppy factories are shut down?

When an inspector returned to the Oklahoma facility, and before any enforcement had taken place, he found 5 dead dogs and other starving dogs had resorted to cannibalism. This two-year review, between  2006 -2008, showed that more than half of the large commercial puppy mills were repeat offenders. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack distanced himself saying he was not in office during the period of inspection, pledging changes in operating and training procedures to include immediately removing dogs who are sick and/or dying. 

The Federal report states that Department inspectors thought that through educating the dealer they could reach compliance. Even after years of no results?  That would assume some integrity–on the part of the puppy millers and the inspectors themselves. 

Whatever inspectors handed out 29 citations without removing animals…what do I say, hooray for you, at least you handed out citations? I would guess there are plenty of some good people employed in this effort.  I would love to hear them blow whistles on those not interested in doing their jobs or point to those embroiled in any back room deals with the commercial puppy mills involved.  There are plenty of people out of work who would like a decent job.

The report from The Boston Globe mentioned that the Inspector General made it clear that many commercial breeders were circumventing the law due to a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act. The loophole allows them to operate online without a license and therefore without  inspection. He mentioned 112 breeders in 8 states were being monitored .

Late news, Senator’s Dick Durbin of IL. and David Vitter of LA are co-sponsoring a bill in the Senate to close the loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allows the unlicensed sale of pets over the internet. They have announced their joint effort, the PUPS Act (Puppy Uniform Protection Statute S3424) and the House is not far behind. We’ve been hearing about someone doing something to stop this practice for months, and it may be, since they can’t agree on anything else, the bill has a good chance of passing.

Photo: MEHaight, TN Puppy Mill Dog, at Anti-Cruelty, Chicago  

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8 comments
Shawn Finch
Shawn Finch

I was at a veterinary recertification meeting last week run by USDA, and one of the (very nice) USDA vets said about puppy mill inspection being a branch of USDA, "Unfortunately, I think things sometimes get put in our department because the government doesn't know where else to put them." The focus of many Nebraska pet advocates the last few years has been yelling about keeping ENOUGH inspectors in the system to stay on a routine inspection (instead of emergency only) system, and get puppy mills in the state shut down. I am sad that Nebraska is known as one of the big puppy mill states. I hope that changes soon. *whispering* Great job at #dogtalk Mary!

Jim@DoggyBytes
Jim@DoggyBytes

I'd like to believe otherwise, but unfortunately I think as a race, we humans have not evolved far enough to understand and apperciate the value of animal life. After all, they're just dogs aren't they?

Rod@GoPetFriendly
Rod@GoPetFriendly

In cases like this, I'd really like to see an "eye for an eye" punishment. Let's lock theses people up in small cages, let them starve, and provide no oversight about the conditions of imprisonment. Wow, that felt good to say!

EdieJ
EdieJ

I guess I'm heartened by the new bill co-sponsored by Durban and Vitter; I hope it passes. But I'm not holding my breath that, even if it does, that things will improve any time soon. The report of the USDA failure -- plus the pictures of oil-soaked birds from the Gulf -- have really been disturbing. Two steps backward, one step forward isn't going to get us anywhere is it? Gloomily yours...

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