Internet Pet Sales – The Wild Wild West

by Mary Haight on May 26, 2012

USDA logo

USDA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Internet pet sales are not regulated by any government agency, and are not subject to the Animal Welfare Act, legislation meant to protect a class of animals from cruelty, set “standards of care and treatment for certain animals bred and sold as pets, used in biomedical research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public.” Adequate housing, food, water, vet care, sanitation and protection from extreme temperatures must be provided animals who fall under this Act. Commercial puppy mills are exempt from even these basic standards.  This loophole has allowed thousands of large-scale commercial breeders to operate with abandon, according to a statement from HSUS.

Commercial puppy farms have free reign to keep as many animals under any conditions without concerns of interference by authorities. Commercial puppy farms and their internet pet sales are free to operate as cheaply as they may without regard for the live animals they are selling, until now. The USDA has proposed a rule change that should lace up that loophole.

The proposed change affects those breeders and dealers involved in internet pet sales, or over the phone where customers cannot see what they are buying. The same basic standards of care in the Animal Welfare Act that apply to wholesalers providing pets for pet shops would apply to internet sales, bringing commercial puppy farms into the regulatory framework.

This new rule does not affect “backyard” breeders who sell puppies out of their homes or other bricks and sticks locations, but affects any breeder who has more than 4 females bred to sell over the internet or by other electronic means. Patti Strand, director of the National Animal Interest Alliance remarked “You need to open your home if you breed more than four dogs.”

Here’s the HSUS video on the proposed changes.


Currently being considered by Congress is the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS) which requires internet puppy mill sellers to meet Federal animal care standards. The changes proposed by the USDA will allow them inspect, fine and shut down puppy mills.

What is needed right now is your comment – let them know what you think of the proposed rule change. Comments are only open to the public for the next 44 days, until the end of the first week in July. Use this link to the HSUS sign up page. Oh, and if you think of it, please share this on FB and your other social media? Thanks!

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  1. […] animal care for far too long. Finally in May the USDA has proposed new regulations that would bring internet pet sales under their jurisdiction. USDA has asked for public comment by July […]

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