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.


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

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