Support PAWS: Pet Animal Welfare Statute

  • by: Alison M. Taylor
  • target: Saxby Chambliss, Chairman, United States Committee on Agriculture
Puppy mills are mass-breeding operations that treat breeding dogs like "factories," churning out countless puppies for sale. These facilities put profits before animal welfare, providing puppies with little veterinary care, poor shelter, and no human socialization. Because of a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act, which allows puppy mills to sell directly to the public without oversight, many of these facilities are exempt from the minimum standards of care required by the AWA. Most states don't inspect these operations either.
         Support PAWS    Pet Animal Welfare Statute

Problems With Puppy Mills
Puppy mills treat dogs like machines in a factory, breeding females every heat cycle, warehousing dogs and their puppies in wire cages in tall stacks or in sheds, and denying dogs any meaningful human or canine companionship. There are more than 3,000 dog-breeding facilities that are licensed to operate by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Owners of these facilities are required to comply with the rules and regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets forth minimum standards for humane handling and treatment. USDA inspections are also required to ensure compliance with AWA standards.

Unfortunately, enforcement of AWA has not effectively stopped the inhumane treatment of animals within the pet industry. Because the AWA only covers breeders and others who sell at wholesale, many puppy mill owners have successfully avoided AWA requirements by selling retail, directly to the public. The ability to use the Internet as a marketing tool for direct sales has only made selling directly to the public more prevalent and popular. Because USDA only regulates wholesalers under the AWA, it has very limited authority to oversee the care and conditions of animals in these facilities.

Mill dogs are treated as breeding machines. Some dogs are forced to live in puppy mills for their entire lives. They are kept there for one reason: to produce puppies non-stop, beginning at a very young age, when they are still just puppies themselves. Repeatedly bred, often with no break between cycles, these "brood bitches" are often killed or auctioned off to unknown fates once their reproductive capacity wanes, typically at around five or six years of age. Over-breeding causes serious health problems for the mother and puppies.

Consumers are defrauded, believing they are purchasing healthy animals. Animals from large-scale breeding facilities often face an array of veterinary problems after purchase or may harbor genetic defects that are not manifested for years. Few states have laws offering any recourse to consumers and no state laws are adequate in protecting consumers from the financial loss and emotional trauma of discovering diseases or serious behavioral problems commonly associated with puppy mill dogs. The federal government's role is key -- puppy mills selling directly to the public must also be subject to regulation. The Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005, or PAWS, (S. 1139 & H.R. 2669) would regulate breeders who sell directly to the public and who raise seven or more litters of dogs or cats each year. 

In addition, PAWS would cover importers and other non-breeder dealers who sell more than 25 dogs or cats per year, strengthen USDA's enforcement authority, and assure USDA access to source records of persons who acquire dogs for resale. Finally, PAWS expands the USDA's authority to seek injunctions against unlicensed dog and cat dealers.

                               Take Action
 Urge congress to pass PAWS, the Pet Animal Welfare Statute

                                  this year.

Your help is needed to ensure that this cycle stops!  Please sign this petition and contact the U.S. Senate Representative in your state. For complete information on this subject, as well as a list of frequently asked questions, please visit the PAWS website.

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