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350,000 Voices for Puppy Mill Dogs

Comments delivered to USDA in support of regulating Internet puppy mills
August 15, 2012

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®,  Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and a member of the social change platform Change.org together have gathered approximately 350,000 letters and signatures from concerned citizens, the last of which were hand-delivered today to the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in support of the agency’s efforts to regulate unlicensed puppy mills.

The USDA has proposed a rule that will require large-scale commercial breeders that sell pets over the Internet or by mail or phone, sight-unseen, to be licensed and inspected under the federal Animal Welfare Act. The public comment period closes today. Now the USDA will read and consider all comments before deciding final action on the proposed rule.

The following statements were issued:

"The enormous public response to the USDA's proposed rule illustrates just how strongly Americans support greater oversight of unlicensed puppy mills," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "The ASPCA has witnessed the abhorrent cruelty that often exists behind the pictures of happy puppies posted on a breeder's website, and this rule would crack down on the worst of Internet breeders. We encourage the USDA to adopt a final rule that is enforceable, effective and covers as many commercial breeders as possible."

"Unethical breeders have been using the Internet as a way to avoid regulation," said Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society.  "That the USDA is taking the initiative to close this loophole, plus the nearly 350,000 letters and signatures collected by national animal advocacy and animal protection groups to support the proposed rule change, reflect a profound societal change -- the growing will of the American public to protect puppies and other animals from unscrupulous breeders."

"I have three rescued dogs from puppy mills and am an active member of the rescue community," said Washington, D.C. resident Anne Gregory, who gathered more than 143,000 signatures on her petition on Change.org. "I'm so optimistic that this USDA loophole will be closed and dogs will be protected thanks to the caring individuals who signed my petition."

"We asked the public to speak up for dogs in unlicensed puppy mills -- and hundreds of thousands responded. This level of support shows the intensity of concern about the humane treatment of animals," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "We thank the Obama administration and USDA for proposing this change and encourage them to make it final in short order." The HSUS gathered more than 111,000 letters in support of the rule.

"If enacted, this proposed rule will essentially achieve the same reform as pending congressional legislation which has more than 235 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and Senate,"  said Michael Markarian, president of HSLF. "This overwhelming bipartisan support demonstrates that Americans of all political stripes want dogs protected from abuse and it’s time to crack down on unlicensed puppy mill dealers."  

"Veterinary professionals know firsthand the suffering of puppies born in unlicensed puppy mills and the anguish of families who bring home a sick or dying puppy," said Dr. Susan Krebsbach of HSVMA. "This change is long overdue, and on behalf of our 4,500 veterinary professional members nationwide, we encourage the agency to finalize it quickly."