|Sent on:||Monday, January 2, 2012 2:23 PM|
White House Responds to Petition to Stop Puppy Mills
National Animal Welfare Groups Call for Accelerated
Action by President Obama to Crack Down on Puppy Mills
(Dec. 30, 2011) – The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) have announced that the White House has responded to a petition submitted by the organizations in November asking President Obama to crack down on puppy mills. The official response to the online petition, which was signed by more than 32,000 people, outlines the United States Department of Agriculture’s plans to improve oversight of commercial dog breeders by issuing rules to regulate those breeders who sell over the Internet. The animal welfare groups were encouraged by the news, but urged the White House to accelerate the time frame, and adopt the puppy mill rule without further delay.
The White House response also highlighted the USDA’s commitment to increase enforcement under the Animal Welfare Act and referenced the agency’s recent proposed rule to prevent young, and often sick, puppies from being imported into the United States.
“The Humane Society of the United States thanks the more than 32,000 animal lovers across the country who signed this petition and brought the issue of puppy mills directly to the President’s attention,” said Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Puppy Mills Campaign for The HSUS. “The changes outlined in President Obama’s response are a positive step toward closing the loophole that has allowed thousands of puppies to suffer for so long in unlicensed mass-breeding facilities. Much work needs to be done, since the draft rule has not yet been proposed, and we urge the Obama Administration to complete the process to crack down on abusive puppy mills and to allow no further delays in this process.”
The petition was submitted in October 2011 by The HSUS, The HSLF and the ASPCA® asking President Obama to help close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act regulations that permits large-scale, commercial breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to escape basic oversight and minimal animal care standards. The petition quickly gathered more than 10,600 signatures in its first 30 days – doubling the threshold needed to assure an official response. It eventually became one of the most popular petitions on the White House website, and was the top active petition for several weeks in November.
“We applaud the USDA for taking this step,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, “For too long, the USDA has avoided regulating and inspecting commercial breeders selling puppies over the Internet to unsuspecting consumers.”
“The existing regulatory loophole currently allows many commercial breeders to operate without a license and without any inspection—meaning they are not accountable to anyone for their breeding and care standards,” added Cori Menkin, senior director of the puppy mills campaign at the ASPCA. “The ASPCA is encouraged that the USDA has committed to help end the suffering of millions of breeding dogs and protect consumers by finally closing this loophole.”
On December 7, The “Today” show aired The HSUS’ expose of Purebred Breeders LLC, thought to be the nation's largest online seller of puppies. The investigation highlighted the connection between Purebred Breeders and inhumane commercial-breeding facilities known as puppy mills, where dogs are often confined in small, stacked wire cages, with no exercise, veterinary care, socialization, or human companionship. HSUS attorneys, in partnership with Florida firm Leopold Law, have also filed suit in Florida state court on behalf of HSUS members and other consumers who received sick or dying dogs from Purebred Breeders. Anyone who has bought a sick dog online is urged to fill out The HSUS’ official complaint form.
Media Contacts: Jordan Crump:[masked], [address removed]
Rebecca Goldrick:[masked], [address removed]
Improving Regulation and Oversight of Commercial Breeders
By Rebecca Blue, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Thank you for signing a petition on the We the People platform asking the Obama Administration to "crack down on puppy mills."
The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), improves its regulation and oversight of commercial breeders. APHIS is currently developing proposed regulations that would ensure that Internet breeders provide their animals with care and treatment that meets the AWA standards. APHIS plans to publish its proposed rule covering Internet breeders in the Federal Register for public comment in 2012. We encourage interested citizens to provide their feedback on the rule at that time; comments can be logged at Regulations.gov.
APHIS is also moving forward with an enhanced AWA enforcement plan to improve its oversight of currently licensed dealers, breeders, and other entities regulated under the AWA (particularly those who are repeat violators). It is also working to improve the performance of its inspectors.
Additionally, in September 2011, USDA proposed a new rule that when finalized will help ensure that dogs imported into the United States for resale are in good health, are at least 6 months of age, and have received their proper vaccinations. Among other things, this proposed rule is designed to prevent the importation of puppies that have not yet been weaned or have fully developed immune systems, or are sick.