Lawmakers introduce bill to combat online puppy mills

It’s not often that you hear a story about Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreeing with one another, but when it comes to animal welfare it seems party lines matter less than saving the lives of America’s dogs, cats, and critters.

The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act), would regulate dog breeders who sell their puppies over the Internet.

Wednesday, federal lawmakers from both sides of the aisle re-introduced legislation that would put into place much-needed regulations for dog breeders who sell their puppies over the Internet.

Senate Bill 395, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, or “PUPS Act” for short, would force online dog breeders to operate under the same regulations as brick-and-mortar commercial breeding facilities who sell their puppies to consumers and pet stores.

The “PUPS Act” would essentially close a loophole in the 1966 Animal Welfare Act that allows online breeders to essentially fly under the radar, avoiding the same routine inspections and licensure required of commercial animal breeders. It would also establish standards of care and treatment requirements for dogs kept at large-scale breeding operations.

The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and David Vitter (R-La.), and Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Bill Young (R-Fla.), and Lois Capps (D-Calif.).

“The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities — where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill and injured dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care,” Durbin said in a statement. “Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases.”

Co-sponsor Farr explains that the loophole for Internet breeders has led to devastating consequences. “Leaving dogs crammed into small cages with no exercise or social contact goes against our humanity,” he says.

“I was alarmed by the USDA IG report that exposed inhumane treatment of dogs, especially abusive breeding practices,” Vitter said in a statement Wednesday. “I applaud USDA’s work to close loopholes that unscrupulous breeders exploited with Internet sales, and the PUPS Act introduced by Senator Durbin and me will help ensure that puppies are treated humanely and bred in safe and sanitary facilities and that consumers can purchase healthy pets for their families.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) commended the bill’s co-sponsors in a press release Wednesday, praising their efforts to crack down on puppy mills in the U.S.

“Dogs shouldn’t be treated like a cash crop,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. “The federal law regarding the care of dogs at commercial dog-breeding operations needs an overhaul, and this legislation will correct some of the worst gaps and deficiencies in current law.”

Sources: GovTrack.US, HumaneSociety.org, USNews.com