Best Friends Blog

USDA tightens regulations for Internet sales by breeders

Online pet sales have been operating in a legal netherworld that has exempted puppy mill breeders who sell animals over the Internet from the minimal kennel operating standards prescribed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Web shopping convenience is a boon and a blessing, especially for those of us who live in out-of-the-way communities, such as Kanab, Utah, and that convenience and accessibility have meant incredible things for our society as a whole, but have made the fight against unscrupulous animal breeders much more difficult. Those who commercially breed dogs, cats and rabbits and sell them over the Internet have been taking advantage of a loophole in the law.

That is at least until now.

Thanks to you and your powerful voice, the USDA has finally closed that Internet loophole. So for the first time in history, roughly 5,000 breeders who were previously allowed to sell without any regulations now will fall under restrictions placed on them by the USDA. No longer does a “retail pet store” only mean a brick-and-mortar location, and the USDA has recognized this societal shift.

This is an enormous win for the animals! These breeders represent millions of animals produced each year. Many breeders were using this loophole to blatantly skirt the law, even going so far as to give up their conventional USDA license, and taking solely to the Internet to sell. All so they wouldn’t have to comply with even the very basic standards of care ordered by the government. According to the USDA, a 2010 audit of dog breeders found that 80 percent of the breeders sampled were not being monitored or inspected.

Of course, enforcement still is a concern, but we believe voluntary compliance alone will mean a tremendous impact. We also hope that the new revenue generated from the licensing will translate to more inspectors to keep these breeders in line.

Even though the concern was made clear by breeding organizations about this move, it in no way changes things for the responsible breeders. In fact, it actually allows those responsible breeders to have four breeding females, instead of three, before they must be licensed. This law is targeted at commercial breeding operations breeding animals at obscenely high volumes.

It’s hard to underestimate what this decision means for the fight against puppy mills. This is the culmination of years of work of organizations like Best Friends and others, and the combined voices of reason of hundreds of thousands of animal advocates. Just as we said in a blog post earlier this month, politics is not a spectator sport!


Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • PaminIndy

    Many blessings to all who work to make animals’ lives better. We are their only voice. ♥ So I am using my voice to post this repeatedly, until it somehow falls into the hands of someone who has the authority and the courage to help us put an end to puppy and kittens mills, once and for all…. PUPPY MILLS ARE GLUTTING THE SYSTEM
    We will euthanize 10,000 pets today at our animal shelters and city Animal Care & Control facilities. We will euthanize 10,000 pets tomorrow too, and most every day. Unless our lawmakers enact regulations on the production of puppy and kitten mills, this pet overpopulation crisis is doomed to increase. This is costing our government millions of dollars, which are OUR TAX DOLLARS! And they are being spent to KILL PETS that the PUPPY MILLS ARE PRODUCING. What is wrong with this picture? The USDA has NEGLECTED to regulate this mill production, to the point that our country is about to explode with dead and suffering animals. Surely, our government must know that this has to stop! I will never understand how the USDA has any business having pets under the same regulations, (or the lack thereof), as poultry, slaughter hogs and beef cattle producers…WE DO NOT EAT DOGS AND CATS IN THIS COUNTRY, they are pets! Our government must stop allowing them to be mass produced like they were food animals! And the conditions that we accept as “USDA approved” for these animals to live in, consist of a lifetime of horrific neglect and deprivation! These pets don’t even go to slaughter when they are old enough and fattened up. They live their entire lives in a cage, often left out in all kinds of weather, with little or no veterinary care. The female’s’ life is spent carrying, nursing, or grieving her lost babies, until she is bred yet again. Then about twice a year, the male shares her cage until mating is complete. Then he is returned to languish in his own flthy cage until it is time to breed again. This only ends for them when they die, or become “no longer good for breeding” I don’t know what, if any regulation exists for their “disposal”. But the numbers of dead and decaying animal carcasses that are strewn throughout the property of far too many of these mills, speak volumes. Unfortunately, the financial influence of the Agriculture business has managed to supercede the horrific conditions of the animals, the pet overpopulation crisis, even the glutting of our own systems!
    WE THE PEOPLE, MUST RISE UP AND DEMAND THAT OUR GOVERNMENT ENACT LAWS TO END THIS INSANITY! I guarantee you, if the beef producers were churning out millions of pounds of beef in a year, and we only ate half of it, and the other half had to be “disposed of” at great expense to the government, you can bet the USDA would be slapping some major restrictions on beef production. So why don’t they see that we are euthanizing over four million pets a year, and the puppy and kitten mills are “producing” a majority of them? IS OUR GOVERNMENT REALLY SO “OWNED” BY THE PUPPY MILL/Ag INDUSTRY, THAT THEY BETRAY THEIR CONSTITUENTS, WASTE OUR TAX DOLLARS AND GLUT THEIR OWN SYSTEM? We must find a way to rid our world of this horrific business of abuse and neglect! OUR GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • doridori

    BLESS the activists.