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USDA: New Retail Regulations (#2)

From: Pam
Sent on: Monday, October 3, 2011 12:35 PM

Meetup Members,

Below is another email about the USDA new retail regulations with a status on the Missouri kennels.

Dear Friends,

We wish to thank all of you that have taken the time to write to the Department of Agriculture and express your support of a hands-on veterinary examination for dogs housed in commercial breeding facilities. Your letters are making a difference.

I was at a meeting last week where the Department of Agriculture announced some of the results of their increased enforcement efforts. Not only was there a dramatic increase in number of inspections and citations in the last two years, but 60 more breeders have closed their operations since this past June. This means that from January 2009 until the present, there has been exactly a ONE-THIRD decrease in the number of licensed commercial dog breeders in the state of Missouri. As we reported previously, this decrease is a remarkable occurrence that can be attributed to many factors including increased public awareness of the issue brought about by the Prop B campaign and the increased enforcement efforts by the Department of Agriculture under Director Hagler and at the direction of Governor Nixon. The passage of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act has certainly added momentum to these closures.

We believe this significant decrease in commercial breeders indicates that many of these breeders were in the dog business for a quick buck and had little concern for the welfare of their dogs. Once they realized that they would have to meet more stringent regulations, many have chosen to get out of the business.

Not only have we seen increased efforts by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, but we are also witnessing a remarkable change in attitude from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). At a recent meeting with commercial dog breeders, USDA officials proclaimed that their days of educating breeders are over and that the USDA is now in "enforcement" mode. The message repeated over and over again, by several USDA officials, was to clean up your act and comply with the law or get out of the business. One USDA inspector told the 200 plus breeders in attendance that if they truly want to rid themselves of the moniker of "puppy mill," they need to stop confining their dogs in tiny cages. He stated that the new law here in Missouri will help accomplish that change.

Dr. Chester Gipson, who is responsible for the enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, admitted at this meeting that public awareness of the puppy mill issue has been very successful in gaining their attention and moving them toward more vigorous enforcement. It is reassuring to learn that all of our efforts, while less than encouraging at times, are beginning to pay off.

Dr. Gipson further announced that USDA will, within a year, be issuing new rules that would require breeders who sell multiple puppies over the Internet to be federally licensed and regulated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the first time ever. Currently, Internet sellers are exempt from the Animal Welfare Act which only covers breeders for the wholesale market such as those who breed dogs for pet stores. This is a significant development as many wholesale breeders have merely switched to selling over the Internet to avoid federal inspections and regulations.

While we have much more to do, we can be heartened that our efforts are truly making a difference. Hopefully, our perseverance will win the day for the dogs. Thanks for all you do to help the animals and for your support of the Alliance.

Bob Baker
Executive Director
Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation


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