Members of Congress have introduced a measure that seeks to amend federal animal welfare laws so as to regulate “high-volume” breeders who sell directly to the public. The bill, House Resolution 835, would also institute additional animal care standards.
H.R. 835, referred to as the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act or PUPS Act, would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to require “high volume retail breeders” to be federally licensed and inspected regularly.
A “high volume retail breeder” is defined as any person “who, in commerce, for compensation or profit, has ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs, and sells or offers for sale, via any means of conveyance (including the Internet, telephone or newspaper), more than 50 of the offspring of such breeding female dogs for use as pets in any one-year period.”
Currently, animal “dealers,” which includes pet breeders and pet wholesalers, among others, are required to be licensed under AWA. A number of exemptions are provided, including exemptions for retail pet stores and hobby breeders.
The bill would also require licensees to follow new exercise requirements for all dogs at least 12 weeks old. Exceptions are provided for female dogs with unweaned puppies and for cases deemed inappropriate by a licensed veterinarian.
Similar bills have been introduced in Congress in the past couple years. As with those bills, H.R. 835’s primary sponsor U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Penn., says the PUPS Act will address a loophole that allows large breeders to evade federal animal welfare laws by selling dogs directly to the public over the Internet.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has issued an industry alert in which the organization notes that none of H.R. 835’s provisions specifically address the Internet loophole.
“Persons who qualify as ‘high volume retail breeders’ will be required to become licensed with USDA, irrespective of whether they sell even a single dog on the Internet, while those who don’t meet the threshold will not be required to obtain a license even if they sell all their dogs via the Internet,” PIJAC stated.
The organization opposes the expansion of AWA requirements to include noncommercial breeders or traditional retail pet stores, because, PIJAC says, the act was never intended to apply to those entities.
To view H.R. 835 in its entirety, click here.