Put a Collar on Unregulated Breeders

The stories we hear about puppy mills are all too familiar. Animals are crowded into filthy cages without basic veterinary care and with no meaningful human contact. Female dogs are forced to produce litter after litter until they are no longer "productive." The end result of this cruelty is another cruelty: Scores of sick or poorly socialized puppies are sold to unsuspecting consumers over the Internet or through newspaper ads.

A loophole in current law exempts these commercial animal breeders from the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by classifying them as "pet stores," because they sell directly to the public. It's time to close this loophole and extend the regulation of large, commercial pet breeding operations to cover facilities that sell directly to consumers. This is no small concern. A recent survey of pet owners indicates that 406,000 American households purchased a dog over the Internet; thousands upon thousands more were likely purchased via newspaper ads, though the number is impossible to determine due to the multitude of dog registries.

Looking to protect these animals and unsuspecting pet owners, Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) have introduced the Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005 (PAWS) to require that any commercial breeder who sells seven or more litters of dogs or cats directly to the public in a year be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provide the minimum standards of care required by the AWA.

While the HSUS believes the best place to find an animal companion is your local animal shelter, PAWS is a crucial first step to establish a safety net for the thousands of animals bred yearly for the pet trade and for consumers who are duped into spending a lot of money for a puppy who may have been raised in inhumane conditions and be vulnerable to health problems and defects from over-breeding.

Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representative to sign on to PAWS.

Learn more about the realities of puppy mills.”

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