The measure would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from licensing a dog dealer whose previous licenses have been suspended or revoked in the last 10 years
U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st dist.), Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, James McGovern and Charlie Crist last week introduced legislation to crack down on “puppy mills” — large commercial dog-breeding operations that breed large volumes of puppies to sell at pet stores and over the internet.
The measure would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from licensing a dog dealer whose previous licenses have been suspended or revoked in the last 10 years. Further, it would prevent USDA from issuing or renewing a license to a dog dealer’s immediate family members, a person who resides at the dog dealer’s address or legal entities where the dealer holds an ownership interest — which would close loopholes that allow puppy mills with violations to keep operating.
“Dog dealers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked may enlist others to engage in deception in order to continue to abuse animals for profit,” said Nancy Blaney, director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. “Thanks to Reps. Fitzpatrick, Crist, Thompson and McGovern, dealers who are shut down will stay shut down.”
Over 100,000 mother dogs spend their entire lives in cages. Their puppies are transported long distances to pet stores.
“Under current law, USDA-licensed puppy mills can keep dogs in small cages for their entire lives, deny them the opportunity for basic exercise, and even kill mother dogs when they no longer produce large litters,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs for Animal Wellness Action. “Surely, any puppy mill that fails to meet these anemic animal welfare standards should be denied renewal of their license.”
Nearly 300 localities have adopted legislation to prevent pet stores from selling puppies that come from puppy mills, and California and Maryland have adopted similar state legislation.
“Last year, USDA-licensed breeders sold at least 1 million puppies to families searching for a beloved pet. Consumers should be able to trust that these breeders have met minimum standards of care under the Animal Welfare Act, but many have been cited for severe violations,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Just as we wouldn’t continue to license a driver who repeatedly threatened the lives of pedestrians or other drivers, we shouldn’t license a breeder who repeatedly endangers the animals in their care. We applaud Reps. Fitzpatrick, Crist, Thompson and McGovern for reintroducing the WOOF Act to hold USDA licensees accountable.” ••