The next time you think of purchasing a cute dog from a pet store or online, please think twice. Most puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills, large commercial breeders where animals are often warehoused in unsanitary conditions, in cramped cages, deprived of socialization, exercise, and necessary veterinary care. The breeding dogs spend years, if they survive that long, suffering in these deplorable conditions.
Although the Federal Animal Welfare Act and regulations contain licensing requirements and minimum standards for the care of animals at some puppy mills, enforcement of the Act has been widely criticized. A government report provided numerous examples of inadequate enforcement:
While the USDA has announced that it may start regulating the sale of animals on the Internet and New York’s pet dealer law was recently improved to include a requirement that puppy mill dogs get some exercise, these measures, though a step in the right direction, are not enough. We strongly believe that puppy mills need to be closed.
There are legislative efforts to ban the sale of puppies and kittens at pet stores. The Los Angeles City Council recently passed such an ordinance. Similar laws have also passed in other municipalities in California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and in British Columbia and Toronto, Canada. The language of the various ordinances differ, with some specifically making it clear that pet stores can instead work with animal shelters and rescue groups to offer homeless animals for adoption. Unfortunately, NY has a law which prohibits localities from regulating pet dealers, but state legislation will be re-introduced shortly to give localities this right.