Thursday, October 6, 2011

Puppy Mills: Some Good News for Dogs

Well, the news is not so good that we're jumping for joy or anything, but when it comes to puppy mills, we cheer for any little bit of good news and our tails are wagging today.

According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, not only has there been a dramatic increase in the number of commercial dog breeder inspections in the past two years, but 60 more dog breeders have closed their operations since June 2011.  Translation:  from January 2009 to the present, there has been a one-third reduction in the number of licensed commercial dog breeders in the state of Missouri. 

Now, that's definitely something to bark about!

Many folks, like Bob Baker, Executive Director for the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, believe this decrease can be attributed to increasing public awareness brought about by the MO Prop B campaign, increased enforcement efforts by the MO Dept of Agriculture, as well as the passage of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.  Baker also reports:

"Not only have we seen increased efforts by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, but we are also witnessing a remarkable change in attitude from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  At a recent meeting with commercial dog breeders, USDA officials proclaimed that their days of educating breeders are over and that the USDA is now in "enforcement" mode. The message repeated over and over again, by several USDA officials, was to clean up your act and comply with the law or get out of the business.  One USDA inspector told the 200 plus breeders in attendance that if they truly want to rid themselves of the moniker of "puppy mill," they need to stop confining their dogs in tiny cages.  He stated that the new law here in Missouri will help accomplish that change.   

"Dr. Chester Gipson, who is responsible for the enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, admitted at this meeting that public awareness of the puppy mill issue has been very successful in gaining their attention and moving them toward more vigorous enforcement. It is reassuring to learn that all of our efforts, while less than encouraging at times, are beginning to pay off. 

"Dr. Gipson further announced that USDA will, within a year, be issuing new rules that would require breeders who sell multiple puppies over the Internet to be federally licensed and regulated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the first time ever. Currently, Internet sellers are exempt from the Animal Welfare Act which only covers breeders for the wholesale market such as those who breed dogs for pet stores. This is a significant development as many wholesale breeders have merely switched to selling over the Internet to avoid federal inspections and regulations. "

Now, that is good news.  Excuse us while we do some more barking.

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