Durbin Introduces Bill To Expand Protections For Puppies

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with 11 of his Senate colleagues, today introduced the Puppy Protection Act, which would create stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, and breeding for dogs. The legislation would ensure that dogs within breeders’ care have suitable and safe enclosures, access to outdoor areas, and regularly interact with other dogs and humans.

“As many Americans welcomed a dog into their family during the pandemic, we must ensure that the demand for pets is met with a commitment from breeders to raise dogs in humane conditions before they find their forever home,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to lead this effort in protecting animals from neglectful breeders who have evaded proper oversight and inspection in the past. The Puppy Protection Act will ensure breeding dogs and puppies will be well-cared for and live a healthy life.”

“The pandemic has seen a significant surge in the number of American homes adopting pets from animal shelters and rescue groups. Unfortunately, it has also increased the number of animals purchased, so tens of thousands of puppies and mother breeding dogs are living in deplorable conditions in puppy mills across the country to meet this demand. That’s why Senator Durbin introduced the Puppy Protection Act to create healthy and safe environments for these dogs living in large scale commercial breeding facilities,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We are grateful for his leadership to transform the lives of so many dogs and protect the American families who love them.”   

Specifically, the bill would do the following:

  • Caging and space requirements: Expand enclosure requirements to allow dogs to stand on their hind legs without touching the top of their enclosure and increase the number of square feet of their enclosure based on the dog’s size. Enclosures may not be stacked on top of one another.
  • Exercise: Offer dogs over the age of 12 weeks unrestricted access from their primary enclosures to a ground-level, enclosed outdoor exercise area.
  • Socialization: Set a 30 minute requirement per day for dogs to socialize with humans and compatible dogs outside of the time spent in veterinary care.
  • Breeding: Require a screening by a veterinarian prior to each attempt to breed and prohibit breeding of two litters in any 18-month period or more than six litters in a dog’s lifetime. Breeders must also find a humane placement for retired breeding dogs, such as with adoptive families or rescue organizations.

In 2013, Durbin introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act) to require breeders that sell more than 50 dogs annually to be licensed and to undergo inspections to ensure their dogs are receiving proper care. In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a rule based on Durbin’s PUPS Act to close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allowed domestic puppy mills to sell puppies on the internet without proper regulation or inspections.

Along with Durbin, the Puppy Protection Act is cosponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). 

Companion legislation was introduced in the House earlier this week.