Durbin Introduces Bill to Regulate Online Puppy Sales

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act yesterday - a bill which would require all breeders that sell more than 50 dogs a year to be licensed and to undergo inspections to ensure dogs are receiving proper care.


“The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities -- where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care,” Durbin said. “Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these disturbing cases. My bipartisan bill requires breeders who sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to obtain a license from the USDA and ensures that the dogs receive proper care.”


For years, news reports have revealed glimpses of an unregulated and often hidden industry of puppy breeding that relies on housing dozens of puppies and dogs – sometimes hundreds -- in cramped, unsanitary, and inhumane conditions. The dogs raised in these facilities often suffer serious health problems.


Most commercial breeders are responsible dog owners who lovingly tend to the animals in their care. But the substandard facilities, sometimes referred to as “puppy mills,” not only harm puppies and the people who buy them, they also threaten the reputation of the broader dog breeding industry.


Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), wholesale animal breeders – those who sell to pet stores, for instance -- are regulated, licensed and subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at USDA.


Because retail pet stores are thought to be supplied by licensed, regulated breeders, retail stores are not regulated. Now that on-line puppy sales happen every day, it is clear that law has not kept pace with recent developments. Internet sales bypass the retail pet store.


A report released by USDA’s Inspector General last May suggested that the Department should tighten this loophole to prevent its exploitation by large, negligent breeders.


The PUPS Act would bring direct-to-buyer dog breeders into the regulatory framework that will require them to meet the basic standards for shelter, care and exercise.


A similar bill was introduced last Congress. This bill is cosponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA).