Thanks for posting that, Sheila. I had heard that the Senator would be reintroducing a revised Puppy Protection Act this month. I am thrilled to see that the AKC is supporting this bill. They opposed the original PPA and that, combined with the strong, organized and well-funded opposition by the Missouri puppy millers, helped defeat it.
It looks like a winner to me. Since statistically the backyard breeders are more of a problem that puppy mills, regulating anyone who breeds more than 7 litters a year is wonderful progress. The new legislation would require those involved in direct sales to the consumer to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, too. The y are currently exempt.
This new legislation certainly provides a much larger umbrella of protection to animals. Let's hope it passes!
Here's a link to the US Humane Society's Press Release about the bill. It's a must read for especially for anyone considering buying a puppy over the internet:
Here's a summary of the new bill (nicknamed PAWS) from nopuppymills.com:
Santorum bill designed to strengthen regulation of kennels
By Susan E. Lindt
Published: May 27, 2005 9:31 AM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - Newly proposed federal legislation could take a bite out of Lancaster County's notorious puppy mill industry.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum introduced legislation Thursday designed to close loopholes that allow puppy mills to flourish here and across the country.
According to Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers that are sold to the public, brokers or pet shops.
Documented problems at puppy mills include overbreeding, inbreeding, overcrowding, minimal veterinary care, poor-quality food and shelter, lack of socialization and the killing of unwanted animals.
Under current law, wholesale dog and cat breeders who sell animals to pet stores are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are regulated by the agency's Animal Welfare Act, which mandates humane handling and treatment of animals.
There are commercial breeders and brokers, however, that legally bypass those regulations by selling directly to consumers through the Internet or sales at their kennels.
Santorum's "Pet Animal Welfare Statute," or PAWS, is designed to close those loopholes for commercial breeders, while not affecting people who breed dogs or cats as a hobby.
"It is disturbing to see the number of breeders who are careless in their responsibilities of breeding dogs in a healthy and humane environment," Santorum said in a statement Thursday. "Breeding and raising dogs without respect to the animal's welfare guarantees bad results for the unknowing owner and for the health of the dog and her puppies."
If the proposed legislation passes, breeders of seven or more litters of dogs or cats per year would have to be licensed by the USDA. The law would affect dealers that import animals to sell, Internet sellers and other dealers that do not breed but sell more than 25 dogs or cats in a year. The legislation also would strengthen USDA's enforcement authority by forcing retail pet stores to show records indicating where they obtained animals to sell, giving the USDA a mechanism to identify breeders who should be licensed.
If passed, PAWS would expand the USDA's authority to seek court injunctions against unlicensed dog and cat dealers to stop them from selling animals. Under current law, injunctions can be obtained only if dealers are selling stolen animals or placing animals' health in serious danger.
Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for companion animals at The Humane Society, said she's optimistic PAWS will become law.
"I feel good about it. The sponsors are all very committed to seeing it through and they believe in it and see how important it is," Shain said Thursday.
"These large commercial breeders have essentially gone through a loophole because they sell puppies directly to the public."
In his statement, Santorum called puppy mills a growing problem not addressed by the Animal Welfare Act.
"Because AWA only covers breeders and others who sell at wholesale, many puppy mill owners have successfully avoided AWA requirements by selling directly to the public," Santorum said. "The ability to use the Internet as a marketing tool for direct sales has only made selling directly to the public more prevalent and popular. Because USDA can only regulate wholesalers under the AWA, it has very limited authority to oversee the care and conditions of animals in these facilities. PAWS addresses this growing problem."
Libby Williams, of New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse, said some puppy mills lose their USDA licenses for repeated violations, only to shift their business to Internet sales, where they don't need a USDA license and aren't subject to federal kennel inspections.
Williams said she is delighted with Santorum's proposed legislation, especially because it covers Internet sellers and animal importers.
"This legislation is everything I ever wanted," Williams said. "This is exactly what I and so many advocates of puppy mill animals have worked and prayed for for more than a dozen years."