Written by Senior Editor Peter Gehr
The internet is awash with articles against puppy mills and cruelty to man’s best friend. It’s when good people unite that things begin to happen, and although it appears that there are no solid laws to stop some of these practices, if enough people speak out to their local leaders and congressmen, changes can be made. Evil abounds when good people do nothing, and although there are active movements and motivated individuals out there, it’s the changes in law, both on the Federal and State levels that will force these cruel practices to be put to an end.
Imagine your family pet caged for life, breeding in a wire cage like a caged hen laying eggs. Unthinkable isn’t it? Well that’s exactly what happens to these poor animals, and according to existing Federal and State laws, the definition of “puppy mill” is a little grey and herein lies the problem of enforcing laws to prohibit such a practice.
As strange as this may sound, the following article on the ASPCA website outlines the dilemma.
However, I don’t see why it’s so hard to define what a puppy mill is, and we all know what it is, so why complicate the definition!?
I would agree with the Wikipedia definition of puppy mill:
A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care.
A legal definition for the term “puppy mill” was established in Avenson v. Zegart in 1984: “a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”
Articles Against Puppy Mills and Cruelty to Man’s Best Friend
While the ASPCA defines a puppy mill as “a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs,” there is no official definition of “puppy mill” in the legal world. This is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to create laws that crack down on puppy mills. Also, it’s important to note that the commercial breeding of dogs is regulated on the federal level and on the state level—but only in some states.
Furthermore, some commercial breeders who sell directly to the public—including those who sell puppies online—fall into a large regulatory loophole. The federal government doesn’t require them to be licensed, as it considers these breeders “retailers,” and thus the responsibility of the state—but states often categorize these operations as being primarily “breeders,” not retailers. The result is that no one regulates these facilities. There are no inspections, no standards that they are required to meet and no consequences for providing inadequate care. As Internet purchases of puppies increase, more and more breeders are using this loophole to get around regulation and inspection. Lack of enforcement by the USDA and state departments of agriculture means thousands of dogs are left to suffer in inadequate and inhumane conditions.
The laws discussed below, which concern puppy mill-related standards and rules, are civil laws—they are distinct from animal cruelty laws, which are criminal laws. For clarity, a similar application of civil law is how restaurants are regulated by their state’s health department. Restaurants that violate health codes can be cited, just like commercial kennels that violate kennel standards.
The Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a federal law passed in 1966, regulates certain animal activities, including commercial dog and cat breeding. The AWA defines the minimum standards of care for dogs, cats and certain other species of animals bred for commercial resale and exhibition. It also requires that certain commercial breeders be licensed and routinely inspected by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, violations regularly go unpunished, and there are innumerable loopholes and faults within the current system. For example, only animal-breeding businesses considered “wholesale” operations—those that sell animals to stores for resale—are overseen by the USDA. The AWA does not apply to facilities that sell directly to the public, including the thousands that now do so via the Internet (Original story here)
With enough articles against puppy mills and cruelty to man’s best friend to indicate the general public’s outrage you would think that we could do more to stop this inhumane treatment of innocent animals. When you consider how sinister this practice has become, and with a commercial mindset at the forefront in the minds of these dog breeders, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to ban such ill-treatment. Voice your concerns to local authorities and question the origin of puppies in the pet store, or if you plan on purchasing online. Research the background of the breeder and refuse to buy pets from puppy mills.