USDA to Improve Regulations For Internet Pet Sales


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The USDA is proposing changes to current laws that bring internet puppy sellers into the Animal Welfare Act. Before now, dog breeders who sell their animals online were able to get around the 1966 law, which stipulates that a retail establishments selling animals are exempt from inspections. The law, which was made before the internet's existence, was going on the assumption that the condition of animals sold to the public could be seen just by visiting the store.

With the internet came the ability to have a storefront without the actual physical item being present. In the case of pet sales, animals can be sold without any indication of their health or well-being. Currently, large-scale puppy mills are selling wholesale animals over the phone or internet, and escaping any oversight or inspection.

The new law subjects anyone who breeds more than four females and makes their sales electronically (over the phone or internet) to regular inspections under the Animal Welfare Act. Sellers must open their doors to the public or obtain a license and be subject to inspections from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"This is a very significant proposed federal action, since thousands of large-scale breeders take advantage of a loophole that allows them to escape any federal inspections," said Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, to The AP. "Dogs in puppy mills often live in small, overcrowded cages, living in filth and denied veterinary care. We need more eyes on these operations, and this rule will help."

The law is likely to be changed, as the only opponents would be the puppy mills themselves. Cruelty to animals is widely hated amongst most American, especially for puppy mills, who put many animals' well-being at risk to make a quick buck. Hopefully the USDA's crackdown on internet sales will make a difference in shutting them down.

If you want your voice to be known, they will be taking comments on the rule change for 60 days. Let us no what you think in the comments below. Will the revised law help eliminate puppy mills? Or is this just bureaucratic posturing, with no real effort being made?

[Source: AP via SFGate]