Thankfully, more people are choosing to adopt companion animals, and the term “puppy mill” is now well-known and understood. Even still, there are still people out there who haven’t heard of puppy mills, or who don’t understand the connection between puppy mills and puppies purchased online or through pet stores.

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities, typically run on a “factory farm” model. In these places, the welfare and happiness of the dogs tend to be a far lower priority for the owner than the aim of simply turning a profit. Dogs are usually held in small, crowded wire cages and provided with the bare minimum of care required to keep them alive. Lack of space, inadequate nutrition, poor hygiene, and rampant overbreeding are commonplace in puppy mills, leaving the dogs with a host of health issues ranging from dental problems, severely matted fur, eye, ear, and throat infections, and severe genetic deformities.

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According to the ASPCA, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. Approximately 2,000-3,000 of these are operating legally and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s shocking to many that these places are even allowed to exist, but due to weak laws and poor enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act — which only requires minimum standards of care to begin with — puppy mills are incredibly difficult to shut down.

But now we have a chance to give the USDA feedback! Harley’s Dream, a non-profit organization created to educate the public about puppy mills, shared the news. Harley was a six-pound chihuahua who spent ten years living in a cramped cage on a puppy mill. He was finally freed, immediately given medical treatment and advocated for the end of puppy mills with his devoted family until his death in 2016.

Harley’s Dream is encouraging animal lovers to submit a comment to the USDA on, “potential revisions to the licensing requirements under our Animal Welfare Act regulations to promote compliance with the Act, reduce licensing fees, and strengthen existing safeguards that prevent any individual whose license has been suspended or revoked, or who has a history of noncompliance, from obtaining a license or working with regulated animals.” 

You can submit your comment HERE and make sure to do so soon because the deadline for comments is November 2nd! Suggested comments include:

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OPPOSE: Encourage the USDA to keep the license expiration at 1 year instead of extending the expiration date from 3 to 5 years.

OPPOSE: Ask the USDA to raise the licensing fee instead of reducing and/or eliminating it.

SUPPORT: Applicants should have to disclose any animal cruelty convictions or other violation of Federal, State, or local laws or regulations pertaining to animals.

SUPPORT: Strengthening existing prohibitions to expressly restrict individuals and businesses whose licenses have been suspended or revoked from working for other regulated entities, and prevent individuals with histories of noncompliance from applying for new licenses through different individuals or business names.

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If you don’t want to submit a comment online, you can also mail in your thoughts to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8 4700 River Road Unit 118 Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Your mailed comments must be received by November 2nd.

According to Harley’s Dream, the USDA is responsible for ensuring that those with a license to breed must comply with the AWA’s humane standards of care. The USDA also has the authority to suspend or revoke license’s if the AWA’s standards are not met.

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Dogs in puppy mills don’t have a voice, so it’s important for us to speak up for them. Please take a moment to speak out against puppy mills, that only exist because of consumer demand, as well as weak laws that allow these operations to remain in business. And be sure to send this to your other animal loving friends and ask them to submit a comment, too!

Image Source: Harley’s Dream