The PUPS Act: How Simple Passed Legislation Could Overpower Puppy Mills, Protecting the Country’s Poorest of Pooches
The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, aka the PUPS Act, is being sponsored right now in the House of Representatives with a partner bill in the Senate. Twice formerly introduced and lost in the pathetic passage pipeline that exists in legislative processes in Washington, we’re hoping for a miracle: to move it through House and Senate sub-committees for a White House signature, making it the law of the land.
Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing when the committees will vote, allowing it to move to the full Senate for a vote, according to Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA’s Puppy Mills Campaign.
If passed, according to the ASPCA, the PUPS Act will bring all commercial dog breeders (puppy millers) under serious federal oversight. The legislation will close a key loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which, by the way, hasn’t been amended since the 1960’s, and which currently allows massive breeders who sell puppies online or directly to the public to avoid licensing and regulation.
- If passed, the PUPS Act would require any breeder who sells (or offers to sell) more than 50 dogs annually directly to the public—including over the Internet—to also be licensed and inspected.
- The Act would also require all dog breeders licensed under the AWA to exercise every dog every day for 60 minutes, including allowing the dogs to reach a running stride without the use of treadmills or similar devices.
- The bill will not affect small breeders and hobby breeders who sell fewer than 50 dogs per yeardirectly to the public, but is fashioned to cover only large commercial breeding facilities.
What is a puppy mill you ask? Quick quid pro quo: a puppy mill is a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that mass produces puppies, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), “for pet stores throughout the country (and to emerging foreign markets).” Puppies are exposed to horrendous, dreadful conditions starting at birth… Puppy mills are a disturbing tradition and a way of living for millions of dogs, particularly in the Midwest.
I can speak of these ill mills because I have seen them. I live in Ohio just hours from Amish Country, the infamous locale of many an Ohio puppy mill. I have seen with my own (undercover) teary-eyes the horror. I have heard the cries and felt the fear. I have seen the guns stacked up against the mill walls that kill the dogs if should one become useless or to injured to perform… sometimes they are just set free and get hit by cars. Often, they’re subject to lives of abuse if they fall into the wrong hands. I even almost saved one once running free in a nearby orchard…
PUPS could stop all of this.
According to a Humane Society press release, in 2010, the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report condemning the USDA’s laziness & its shoddy oversight of “dog dealers” under AWA.
“Dogs shouldn’t be treated like a cash crop,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, in the release. “The federal law regarding the care of dogs at commercial dog-breeding operations is grossly overdue for reform, and this legislation will correct some of the worst gaps and deficiencies in current law.”
Many animal welfare organizations that I work with in some capacity, including the Humane Society, ASPCA, Columbus Top Dogs and Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, have known for years that the USDA, for the longest period of time, has allowed these malicious dog dealers to violate the AWA without any fear of repercussion or serious enforcement…
PUPS is, hence, a God-send to many.
To others, well… let’s just say it’s important to note that not everyone supports the PUPS Act; some breeders are against it as evidenced in one forum called Doberman Chat. The blogger here claims that language in the PUPS Act’s defines you as a high-volume breeder if you have just one breeding female.
This is not entirely accurate.
There is language in the text of the legislation that says if you have “one breeding female” that you’re subject to the new laws, but you must have 50 or more pups a year.
“I don’t know many reputable breeders who have 50 or more pups a year,” said one advocate I spoke too.
Furthermore, if you’re a reputable compassionate breeder, why are you angry or feeling “imposed upon” for having to exercise your dogs? How could that possibly be a hassle?
“Small hobby breeders often oppose any effort to regulate the breeding industry out of fear and misinterpretation of intent,” Menkin said. “They think that there is a greater agenda to eliminate all dog breeding and argue that it is a slippery slope. The ASPCA has said, time and time again, that we are not against dog breeding. We simply want it done responsibly and humanely. If truly responsible breeders would stand with us and support this bill, it would stand a better chance of passing, and also help better regulate puppy mills who [sic] are unfairly competing with responsible breeders and tarnishing their reputation.”
But the breeders may get their way. According to Menkin, “It’s actually more complicated than you might think. The Act proposes to increase the number of breeders the USDA has to regulate under the AWA, and that requires money. In an economy like this, it’s… difficult to pass legislation that will cost the government more. We’re also in a political trend of less regulation, not more, so the PUPS Act becomes a heavier lift.”
Strong public sentiment for the measure is obvious online. So what can you do to ensure that PUPS gets to Obama’s desk once and for all this year?
Contact your legislators now. It’s easy: use the ASPCA’s Advocacy Alert that has a pre-written email for you to send your pro-vote to House/Senate legislators. You can also click here for a full listing of state-by-state decision-makers if you’d like to craft your own message for or against the measure.
* And please, I beg you, don’t sit and complain if you aren’t going to do something; if you feel strongly about this, then take five minutes to email your legislators or call their offices.
Advocacy is everything.
Just think of the dogs we could save…
Please Retweet, put on Facebook, Pinterest and where ever else you feel necessary. The more we get word around, the better.