NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Vermont legislators for passing H. 50, a measure that will give officials the tools they need to enforce laws protecting breeding dogs and the puppies they produce by providing clear definitions and eliminating current legal loopholes. H. 50, which previously passed the House unanimously, passed the Senate yesterday, and now awaits Gov. Peter Shumlin's signature.
"Vermont has a long history of protecting animals, but laws regulating commercial dog breeders in the state are ambiguous, making it nearly impossible to identify and monitor these facilities," said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. "H. 50 will address this issue as it provides for clearly defined regulations, and we urge Governor Shumlin to sign this legislation into law to keep inhumane puppy mills out of Vermont."
Sponsored by Rep. John Bartholomew (D-Windsor), H.50 provides a reasonable and much-improved definition of "pet dealer" – encompassing any person selling, exchanging or giving away three or more litters annually – thereby giving municipalities better guidance to determine who must be regulated by law. Under the current federal law, only breeders who have more than three breeding females and sell their puppies to pet stores or puppy brokers need to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. The measure would also allow inspections to occur at any time after a permit has been issued. Current law only requires that inspections occur during "reasonable business hours," which is vague and allows breeders to manipulate the law to delay inspections indefinitely if desired, allowing even the worst breeders to easily evade inspection and oversight.
"Current regulations in Vermont are missing several key elements that have allowed irresponsible dog breeders to circumvent existing laws," said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA's Puppy Mills Campaign. "H. 50 will ensure that large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities do not spiral out of control and become puppy mills. It will provide some of the many protections Vermont's animals deserve."
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that can injure their paws and legs. Breeding dogs might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or crammed inside filthy structures with no access to fresh air or sunlight. To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity, with little to no recovery time between litters. When, after a few years, they can no longer reproduce, breeding dogs are often killed.
The ASPCA's national "No Pet Store Puppies" campaign aims to reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies by urging consumers to pledge not to buy any items—including food, supplies or toys—from stores or websites that sell puppies. To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to eradicate puppy mills, please visit www.NoPetStorePuppies.com.