The USDA announced they revised the definition of "Retail Pet Store" under the Animal Welfare Act which allows federal oversight of breeders selling puppies and other small animals online. Until now, online puppy mills benefitted from a loophole in the law that allowed them to operate without regulation. Many victims of these puppy mills have suffered severe abuse and neglect for years in deplorable conditions. The new laws will finally allow investigators to inspect and protect them.
According to the USDA, “The previous definition of “retail pet store” was developed more than 40 years ago, before the Internet provided an alternate method of selling pets to the public. Some breeders were selling pet animals sight unseen, without providing an opportunity for the buyer to observe the animal prior to purchase, as was intended by the regulation. APHIS is revising the definition in its regulations to bring animals involved in these transactions under the Animal Welfare Act so that they can be monitored by our Agency for health and humane treatment.”
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, states, “Puppy mills aren’t going away overnight, and it’s still important for any potential puppy buyer to meet the breeder in person at his or her facility to see how and where a puppy was born and raised. But this rule has the potential to allow federal inspectors to peer behind the closed doors of puppy mills and improve the lives of tens of thousands of animals. That is a change worth celebrating, and we thank our supporters, the USDA, and our allies in Congress for supporting this significant step. “
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