The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for abandoning responsibility to enforce the 50-year-old Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Specifically, the lawsuit focuses on the humane treatment and care of commercially bred dogs. There are 2,000 commercial dog breeders in the United States and Congress has directed the USDA to inspect the facilities to ensure maintenance of a standard of care.

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However, the USDA has let violations go unreported and unpunished and has not laid out a single penalty against a dog dealer since 2017, despite evidence of cruelty in numerous cases, the ASPCA shared.

“The USDA has abdicated its critical responsibility to use the Animal Welfare Act to stop animal cruelty, allowing commercial breeders to put their profit motives above the welfare of vulnerable animals in their care,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “The agency’s adamant refusal to take action against inhumane dog dealers is an unlawful rejection of its obligation, and sadly indicates that animal suffering at the hands of USDA-licensed breeders will be tolerated, despite the intention and authority of the AWA to protect those animals.”

Policies formalized in 2017 said that inspectors could disregard violations, treat minor violations as a teachable moment, or not report a violation if it is uncovered due to a courtesy visit. The number of recorded violations prior to the rules was around 2,000 annually. In 2020, the number was 150.

Sign this petition to ask the USDA to enforce animal welfare standards.

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