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May 10, 2012

Our Big Chance to Stick up for Puppies

We’ve conducted dozens of raids with law enforcement to rescue dogs in distress at puppy mills. There are so many stories of woe―and then redemption. But one that sticks in my mind is Rudy the dachshund, who was living in a filthy, unlicensed West Virginia puppy mill with about 1,000 other dogs when The HSUS and other groups intervened. When pulled out of his cage, he was fearful, trembling, and had never known the kindness of a person. After Rudy was adopted, he then became best friends with another puppy mill survivor.

Dachshund with puppies at West Virginia puppy mill
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
The unlicensed puppy mill where we rescued Rudy
and about 1,000 other dogs in 2008.

The people who owned Rudy were online sellers of dogs. And under federal regulations, if a dog breeder sells directly to the public, there’s no federal license and no USDA inspections. That gives some of these operators free rein to deny dogs even the basics.

Soon, animal advocates will have one of their biggest chances ever to make a difference for the dogs still suffering in unlicensed puppy mills.

Today, the USDA announced that it’s publishing a proposed rule to finally close this loophole and require large-scale commercial dog breeders selling puppies over the Internet to be federally licensed and inspected. This is a victory for dogs and for the more than 32,000 people who signed an HSUS/ASPCA petition on the official White House website urging the Obama administration to crack down on unregulated mills. It is similar in content to bipartisan bills in the House and Senate, which collectively have more than 235 cosponsors. And a big nod to our affiliate, the Doris Day Animal League, for demanding action on this issue as long as two decades ago.

Please take action to help dogs in unlicensed puppy mills »

HSUS investigations have time and again exposed the problems with online puppy-selling websites, many of them linked to substandard, unlicensed puppy mills.

Rudy, a dachshund rescued from a West Virginia puppy mill
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Rudy after being adopted into a loving home.

While USDA oversight is not without its deficiencies, this is an important step in dragging thousands of unlicensed, uninspected puppy mills out of hiding once and for all. Some of these facilities have been churning out hundreds of puppies a year, often in deplorable conditions, without ever undergoing a single inspection for even the most basic standards of care. Aside from the animal welfare problems associated with the regulatory circumstances, it’s just plain unfair from a business standpoint―with one class of dealers inspected and the other not at all.

Now that this rule has been announced, we’ll need your support to ensure its swift approval. Please stay tuned here for upcoming details on how you can take action in support of this protection for puppies. [Editor's note: You can now take action here.]

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