internet pet sales

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service finally closed the pet internet sale loophole in the Animal Welfare Act.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Doris Day Animal League spearheaded the administrative process behind the loophole closure, with the Animal League Defense Fund and Dentons law firm following suit.


Prior to this decision, breeders who sold animals on the internet took advantage of the loophole by labeling themselves “retail pet stores.” Under the Animal Welfare Act, retail pet stores are exempt from standard regulations as buyers are able to see the conditions of the animals first-hand. (It should be noted that even though puppies, kittens and other animals in pet stores may appear to be in good condition, they may in fact originate from unsavory operations like puppy mills or suffer in transport.)

Now, any breeders that sells pets over the internet, through the mail or over the phone will be subject to the same regulations are wholesale breeders. This means that these breeders will either have to obtain a license or allow buyers to see the animals in-person, comply with a minimum set of standards for animal care and submit to inspections.

This decision will definitely turn things about from an animal welfare standpoint. After a number of claims and reports of animals in deplorable conditions and buyers receiving sick or dying pets from internet sale breeders, the USDA was finally moved to take action.

It is estimated that the loophole will affect around 4,640 dog breeders, 325 cat breeders and 75 rabbit breeders, according to the Associated Press. Licenses will cost $750 but the USDA’s Kevin Shea, an administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has said that this would only be expensive for breeders who are not already ensuring proper care for their animals.


Finally negligent and dishonest breeders will be held accountable for their actions. This USDA decision is one to rejoice!

Image source: Jonas Boni / Flickr