PUPS Act would close Internet loopholes left open for far too long

The PUPS Act would require commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, sight unseen, to be meet basic care requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and to be licensed and inspected by the USDA.Recently, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) introduced S395/HR847, the bipartisan Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, an important bill that would finally address the critical need for greater federal oversight of puppy mills across the United States—including massively unregulated Internet trade.

The PUPS Act would require commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, sight unseen, to be meet basic care requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. 

Currently, these requirements only apply to breeders who sell dogs directly to consumers (typically through pet stores), which has created a massive loophole for many large-scale commercial breeders who use direct methods, like the Internet, to dupe unsuspecting consumers into believing the puppies they buy come from healthy, loving homes.

As demonstrated by the International fund for Animal Welfare’s latest investigative report, How Much is that Doggie on my Browser?  The Truth Behind Online Puppy Sales, the Internet is a massively unregulated marketplace where dogs and consumers are exploited seven days a week, 24 hours.

The potential for abuse is staggering.

In fact, the investigation found over 12,000 advertisements representing a total of well over 700,000, (a conservative estimate) puppies for sale on nine major buyer-seller Internet websites in just one day. 

Six of these sites are dedicated primarily to the puppy market and three offer puppies amongst a variety of other commodities. Lacking the regulation assigned to some brick-and-mortar establishments, the Internet has become a preferred platform for unscrupulous commercial facilities to sell puppies directly to innocent consumers who are unwittingly supporting the puppy mill industry.

On May 10, 2012, the USDA announced its proposal to create new federal regulations meant to expand its current monitoring to include some of the hundreds of thousands of dogs currently exploited through the Internet and through other direct means.

Effectively, if the regulations are promulgated—which we hope will happen soon-- they would have the same impact as the PUPS Act. The International Fund for Animal Welfare applauds these federal efforts to tackle puppy mill abuse and to close loopholes that have been left open far too long.

--TC

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Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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