As our recent puppy mill raid in Alabama illustrates, there is a real need for states to step up and regulate commercial dog breeding facilities. These laws not only benefit dogs, but also potential pet owners, taxpayers, animal shelters and the rescue community: states with no laws to oversee these businesses pay a high price when these facilities spiral out of control.
Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. Breeding dogs at mills often spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements—or crammed inside filthy, wire-floored structures, stacked on top of one another, where they never get the chance to feel sunlight or breathe fresh air. To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters.
Many people think that what we’ve just described is already illegal—but that’s not the case. The federal Animal Welfare Act regulates some breeding facilities, but not all of them. Further, the federal standards are far from what most people consider to be humane and amount to nothing more than mere survival standards for dogs. Most importantly, poor enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture means thousands of dogs are left to suffer in inadequate and inhumane conditions year after year, even in federally licensed facilities.
States have the authority to enact and enforce higher standards of humane care for commercially bred animals, yet 21 states still do not have any laws regulating large-scale dog breeders, making them magnets for puppy mills. Alabama is one of these states. Kentucky is another, and so is Michigan (are you seeing a pattern yet?). Please see the chart below to learn how your state stacks up. You’ll see that we have a lot of work left to do.
The ASPCA has a long history of working to pass laws that protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities. You can help us by joining ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. If you live in North Carolina or Montana, you can take action right now by supporting puppy mill legislation that’s pending in those states. And to learn more about puppy mills, please visit nopetstorepuppies.com.
Update, 3/14: Thanks to those of you who pointed out that we had mistakenly identified Wisconsin as a state with no substantive standards of care when in fact, there are some strong standards in place for commercially bred dogs there—our apologies for the mistake! Wisconsin's status has been updated in the version below. We do our best to keep these charts up to date, but sometimes we miss things and we want you to let us know if you see anything inaccurate.
Both owners of the facility were detained Wednesday morning and cruelty charges are expected to follow. Law enforcement also discovered illegal drugs and nearly $20,000 in cash on the property. This operation is the result of an investigation prompted by numerous complaints about conditions at the breeding facility. Several dogs acquired from the facility were discovered to be severely ill soon after purchase.
We’ve established a temporary shelter where the dogs will receive veterinary exams and care along with behavioral enrichment from the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team. The ASPCA forensics team is also collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. Our new Medical Animal Surgical Hospital (MASH)—a custom-built, mobile medical unit—will allow veterinarians to provide critical care to dogs on-site.
Update: View our video below for footage from this operation and for a closer look at many of the dogs we rescued in the process.
This post was originally published on February 24, 2015.
Acting at the request of the Stone County Sheriff’s Department, the ASPCA is on the ground in Mountain View, Arkansas, today removing approximately 100 dogs from an overwhelmed rescue group’s facility. The facility agreed to surrender the dogs due to its lack of sufficient resources. The dogs—including Huskies, Labs and Beagles—range from two days to 10 years old. The majority were never spayed or neutered and several are pregnant.
February 5, 2015: The ASPCA commends New Jersey legislators and Governor Chris Christie for enacting a measure to crack down on New Jersey pet stores that source puppies from inhumane puppy mills. The new law, which goes into effect June 1, requires state pet stores to disclose the origins of the dogs they sell. It also prohibits pet stores from sourcing animals from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic care standards prescribed by federal and state law. If you live in the Garden State, please take a second to send Governor Christie a note of thanks.
“The ASPCA thanks New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Christie for enacting this law and taking a positive first step towards more humane sourcing of puppies by New Jersey pet stores, which will put pressure on the commercial breeding industry nationwide to end puppy mill cruelty and stop placing profit over the well-being of the dogs in these facilities,” said Debora Bresch, Esq., Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Mid-Atlantic region and a New Jersey resident. “This new law is critical to our continued effort to end the inhumane treatment of dogs in commercial breeding facilities that exploit both the dogs and consumers in pursuit of profit.”
On December 18, the New Jersey State Legislature unanimously passed S.1870, ASPCA-supported legislation to amend the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Law. The bill would institute new rules for pet stores that sell puppies, including a requirement that these stores inform customers about the sources of the puppies they sell. It would also prohibit pet shops in the Garden State from obtaining puppies from breeders or brokers who fail to comply with even minimal federal and state animal welfare standards.
If signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, the bill will give potential animal owners a chance to make informed decisions, while also putting much-needed pressure on some of the most unethical breeders in the industry to significantly improve their practices. Governor Christie has until early February to sign the bill, and he has yet to reveal his opinion or his intentions.
Thankfully, our friend Jessica Springsteen—an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, rescue-dog lover and proud New Jerseyan—has stepped up to help by sending a letter to Governor Christie urging him to sign the bill. Governor Christie is a huge fan of Jessica’s dad, and we’re hoping a direct plea from The Boss’s daughter will catch his attention!