U.S. legislation calls for veterinary inspections of dog breeders selling on the Internet

U.S. legislation calls for veterinary inspections of dog breeders selling on the Internet

Legislation aims to put smaller breeders under USDA watch
Apr 13, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Washington — An effort to close Internet loopholes for puppy sales is underway once again at the federal level, with companion bills introduced in both the House and the Senate to require all breeders selling more than 50 dogs per year to be licensed and undergo veterinary inspections.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced SB 707, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, March 31. A House version of the bill, HR 835, was introduced Feb. 28. Durbin introduced the Senate version of the bill twice before—once in 2008 and again in 2010—but the legislation failed to make it to a vote on the Senate floor on both occasions.

“The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities—where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care,” Durbin says. “Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these disturbing cases. My bipartisan bill requires breeders who sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to obtain a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ensures that the dogs receive proper care.”

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) protects pets sold at the wholesale level, Durbin notes, but provides places for smaller operations to slip through the cracks. “Because retail pet stores are thought to be supplied by licensed, regulated breeders, retail stores are not regulated. Now that online puppy sales happen every day, it is clear that law has not kept pace with recent developments. Internet sales bypass the retail pet store,” Durbin continues. “A report released by USDA’s Inspector General last May suggested that the Department should tighten this loophole to prevent its exploitation by large, negligent breeders.”

The PUPS Act would require breeders/sellers to have to submit to veterinary and housing inspections by USDA every two years and meet federal minimum standards of care. Exercise requirements/standards are outlined in the legislation too, but the law does not limit the number of dogs that can be owned by one breeder or kennel, nor does it define commercial breeders based on the number of dogs owned.