Internet Puppy Sales, USDA Smack-Down!

by Mary Haight on September 10, 2013

internet puppy salesNo more regulation-free ride for internet puppy sales. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today extended their jurisdiction to include thousands of internet puppy mills, effectively closing the loophole the Animal Welfare Act provided.

Animal advocates from organizations like the Doris Day Animal League, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, HSUS, and hundreds of thousands of animal lovers (recently, 350,000 on the petition for a USDA proposed regulation change) worked together for years to get this result, HSUS reported this afternoon.

Over the years and in conjunction with communities banning pet shops and negative public opinion, puppy mills have evaded any oversight or charges of cruelty and inhumane treatment by taking their heinous business online, selling direct to the public with no Federal inspection oversight, thanks to whomever voted “no” to fixing that loophole in the Animal Welfare Act [I hope you and any friends have been voted out by now].

Fraud on the public and unfair regulations that treated two arms of the same business differently (pet shops are regulated, online puppy sales were not) are points that were long argued when asking Congress to take action.  The proof of abuse and lack of action by individual inspectors who should have shut down many of these operations was enough to get the Office of The Inspector General involved. The report that came out of that investigation documented the worst kinds of neglect and abuse, and the lack of any action by USDA inspectors where they had authority.

Congress did take action in the form of a bi-partisan bill for closing the “Internet loophole” in the Animal Welfare Act. The PUPS Act, or “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act” sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-IL and David Vitter, R-LA, and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-PA, Sam Farr, D-CA, Bill Young, R-FL, and Lois Capps, D-CA, worked to excite members of Congress to get behind the rule and push for implementation. But it was the pressure from advocacy groups combined with the OIG’s report that seemed to be the catalyst for finally getting this rule change done.

Internet puppy sales are not history by any stretch, but advocates have been pleading that this loophole be closed for many many years. With government, you take one step at a time.  Now that the internet puppy sellers are no longer free to do as they please, we need to advocate for funding a new group of inspectors…lots of them.

5 comments
MelF
MelF

I laughed at the word "Smackdown" because it's more of a shot across the bow at this point (they still haven't figured out how they're going to police internet sellers), but it is a step forward. I had not heard PUPs passed, so that is news. If that's all it did then it is a vast disappointment. Progress is slow, but it still moves forward. Now we just have to make sure the King Amendment gets trashed on the congressional floor. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @MelF I laughed too when I wrote the headline, Mel, but after all these years and years of Congressional acceptance of  the animal cruelty involved in online sales, I think smackdown is appropriate in terms of the way government usually moves, turtle-like, especially given how mad the IG appeared to be at that report. A passing reference would not give the public any sense of how difficult it has been to get anywhere at all with this rule change, nor would it convey the importance of bringing all puppy (kitty, rabbit, etc) sellers under the Animal Welfare Act. And public support is needed if we are to get anywhere at all. Did you see where only 32,000 people signed the petition to the White House on this subject? We got more than that in the first two weeks of my Petland petition just a couple of years ago.  It's always disappointing to those in some part of the animal welfare industry or movement to see how we crawl forward, inch by inch. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @MelF And as far as I know, PUPS did NOT pass, it still sits there, with bi-partisan support, of course (sarcasm). What the USDA did was an end-run around Congress, and the rule adopts the core of the Animal Welfare Act. Reading Wayne Pacelle's releases and parsing out what's happened can make your eyes cross sometimes! (Not a criticism, just an observation)

mithuhassan
mithuhassan

Thanks to share this interesting article !!

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  1. […] Internet puppy sales got a USDA whack today as their free ride from regulation ended with new rules.  […]

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