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Raising the Bar for Compassionate Care in Dog Breeding

Raising dogs in high-volume, sterile, dirty, and dangerous puppy mills is a heartache for anyone who loves and cares for animals. Fortunately, we can do something. The neglect and abuse of tens of thousands of breeding mothers and their puppies in these facilities is an issue that calls for congressional action, and the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is just the necessary vehicle for the reforms. That’s why we’ve come together to work together in our shared mission to advance the Puppy Protection Act (PPA) – a practical proposal to close serious gaps in established standards of care for dog breeding in under the AWA by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The good news: it’s not a juggernaut because the PPA builds on existing regulations promulgated by the USDA. The bill only applies to large-scale commercial operations, not hobbyists or responsible small breeders.

Some time ago, partly because residents made their humane preferences clear to state lawmakers, Pennsylvania tightened its commercial kennel laws, as did Missouri and Ohio, two other states with a large number of commercial breeders. The measures approved in these three states are broadly compliant with PPA requirements, paving the way for the adoption of a federal standard of care that ensures regulated breeders across the United States understand and adhere to the same guidelines and requirements. .

A 2020 USDA rule provided improvements to dog care standards, requiring annual hands-on veterinary exams, vaccinations, and 24-hour access to fresh, clean water. The PPA will codify these upgrades into law and introduce other reforms, which prohibit the stacking of cages, prohibit harmful wire or wire floors, increase the size of cages, guarantee unrestricted access to an exercise area in outdoors and require protection from blazing or freezing temperatures.

ASF also requires dogs to be fed at least twice a day, to receive prompt treatment when sick or injured, and to have daily socialization with humans and compatible dogs. Additionally, it prohibits the breeding and over-breeding of dogs with serious health conditions or hereditary diseases and directs breeders to strive to find humane placement for retired breeding dogs, rather than euthanizing them. .

Sara Amundson is chair of the Humane Society's Legislative Fund.

At their core, these are animal welfare safeguards designed to ensure higher levels of compassionate care in dog breeding. At the same time, these are consumer protection measures aimed at stemming the flow of unhealthy, inbred and poorly socialized animals into the contemporary marketplace through puppy mill sales channels, such as online sites and pet stores. The diseases, genetic deformities and behavioral problems that frequently afflict these animals can place serious and unexpected burdens – financial, practical and emotional – on the people and families who care for them.

For these and many other reasons, there is no Congressman or Senator in Pennsylvania, or any state for that matter, whose name should be missing from the APP’s list of sponsors.

The case for adopting this humane measure rests on our individual and social responsibility towards dogs. They are neither crops nor industrial products. They are fellow creatures, they are loyal companions and housemates, and they fully deserve the strongest protections our laws offer.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick represents Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, which includes all of Bucks County and part of Montgomery County. Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which supports nonpartisan public policy initiatives aimed at improving animal welfare in the United States and abroad.

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