Durbin To Introduce Bill To Expand Protections For Puppies

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will introduce legislation to create stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, and breeding for dogs. The Puppy Protection Act will ensure that dogs within breeders’ care have suitable and safe enclosures, access to outdoor areas, and regularly interact with other dogs and humans.

“We must ensure that every breeder is raising dogs in decent, humane conditions and that these dogs receive the proper veterinary care,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to lead this effort in protecting the welfare of animals when breeders have escaped proper oversight and inspection in the past. The Puppy Protection Act is a step forward in ensuring that these breeding dogs and their puppies live a healthy life.”

“Puppy mills that sell to pet stores and sight unseen over the Internet are a true scourge, forcing puppies and breeding dogs to suffer in deplorable conditions in facilities across the country. Now, thanks to Senator Durbin the U.S. Senate will have its first opportunity to consider and pass the Puppy Protection Act to curtail the miseries suffered by so many dogs trapped in large scale commercial breeding operations,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We need bright line standards for housing, exercise, breeding practices, and socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs.”

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.

U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) introduced a companion bill in the House.