Breeding dogs in high volume, sterile, dirty and dangerous puppy mills is a heartbreak for all who love and care for animals. Fortunately, there is something we can do. The neglect and abuse of tens of thousands of breeding mothers and their puppies at these facilities is an issue that calls for action in Congress, and the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is just the vehicle necessary for reforms. That’s why we’ve teamed up to work together on our common mission to advance the Puppy Protection Act (PPA) – a practical proposal to address serious gaps in the standards of care established for dog breeding in under the AWA by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The good news: This is not a difficult task as the PPA builds on existing regulations promulgated by the USDA. The bill only applies to large-scale commercial operations, not to responsible hobbyists or small ranchers.
Some time ago, not least because residents made their human preferences clear to state legislators, Pennsylvania tightened its commercial livestock laws, as did Missouri and Ohio, two other states with large numbers of ‘commercial breeders. Measures approved in these three states are broadly compliant with ASF requirements, paving the way for the adoption of a federal standard of care that ensures regulated breeders across the United States understand and adhere to the same guidelines and requirements. .
A 2020 USDA rule provided improvements to standards of dog care, requiring annual hands-on veterinary exams, vaccinations, and 24-hour access to fresh, clean water. The ASF will codify these upgrades into law and introduce other reforms, which prohibit stacking cages, ban harmful wire or wire flooring, increase cage size, ensure unrestricted access to a safe area. outdoor exercise and require protection from freezing or freezing temperatures.
The APP also requires dogs to be fed at least twice a day, receive prompt treatment for illness or injury, and enjoy daily socialization with humans and compatible dogs. Additionally, it prohibits the breeding and over-breeding of dogs with serious health conditions or inherited diseases and calls on breeders to strive to find humane placement for retired breeding dogs, rather than euthanizing them. .
At their heart are animal welfare guards designed to ensure higher levels of compassionate care in dog breeding. At the same time, these are consumer protection measures aimed at stemming the flow of unhealthy, inbred and poorly socialized animals into the contemporary market through puppy mill sales channels, such as online sites and pet stores. The diseases, genetic deformities and behavioral problems that frequently plague these animals can impose serious and unexpected burdens – financial, practical and emotional – on the individuals and families who receive them.
For these reasons and more, there is no congressional representative or senator in Pennsylvania, or any state for that matter, whose name should be absent from the PPA’s list of sponsors.
The passage of this humanitarian measure is based on our individual and social responsibility towards the dogs. They are not crops or industrial products. They are like creatures, they are faithful home and household companions, and they fully deserve the strongest protections our laws offer.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick represents Pennsylvania’s first congressional district which includes all of Bucks County and part of Montgomery County. Sara Amundson is President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which supports non-partisan public policy initiatives aimed at improving animal welfare in the United States and abroad.