Legislation has recently been proposed which would amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to include pet dealers who sell dogs directly to the public (via e.g., the Internet) under the AWA’s definition of “pet dealer.” The legislation, referred to as the PUPS Act, would also include amendments pertaining to exercise standards of dogs maintained by pet dealers and licensing requirements. For example, space for exercise must be separate from the primary living space.
These amendments would improve a significant number of lives: since 2006, the amount of dogs sold directly to the public via the Internet is at least 15,000.
Who Would be Included Under the New Definition of “Pet Dealer”?
Anyone selling dogs “via any means of conveyance (including the Internet, telephone, or newspaper”), has “an ownership interest in or custody of 1 or more breeding female dogs” and sells more than 50 “offspring of such female dogs for use as pets in any 1-year period.”
Why Does The Animal Welfare Act Need These Amendments?
Puppy mills – or commercial breeding facilities – are inhumane. The dogs are kept in small cages without access to daily exercise. The cages are typically made of wire and stacked on top of each other, which results in not only physical harm to the constant exposure to the wire, but also means that feces and urine pass through the cages. Without exercise and proper veterinary care, puppy mill dogs suffer both mentally and physically. The expression “cage crazy” describes how puppy mill dogs turn aggressive and violent. For the dogs that make it out of the puppy mills, the misery does not necessarily end: behavioral problems may arise later in life, and the health impact can be long-lasting, even life-shortening.
Consumers may be unaware of the substandard facilities in which their purchased dog has been raised; additionally, the consumer may not be prepared for the arrival of a dog that is significantly unwell. If the AWA is amended to protect the dogs being sold directly to the public, not only will it benefit the canines, but also the consumers.
There is simply no good reason for the AWA to continue to allow inhumane care for dogs sold to the public – these dogs are no less deserving of the minimum standards of care for dogs maintained by pet dealers who sell directly to stores or brokers.