Position Statement: Puppy Mills
The SF SPCA strongly opposes the existence of mass commercial breeding facilities, such as puppy mills, and sale of animals from these facilities. By definition these commercial breeding mills do not meet our minimum standards of care for companion animals, cause enormous suffering of animals through their operations and contribute to the overpopulation of companion animals.
A puppy or animal mill is a commercial breeding operation wherein the profits from the breeding and selling of animals are given priority over the welfare of the animals. Oftentimes the largest-scale animal mills remain invisible to the purchaser by hiding behind pictures of adorable puppies on seemingly legitimate websites or by advertising that they are “USDA licensed”. While USDA regulations only require a minimal standard of care, a majority of the largest USDA breeders exhibit a long history of substandard care and still remained licensed.
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Importance to Animal Welfare
Two to four million puppies are born in puppy mills every year in the US. Not only does the sale of these animals contribute to the pet overpopulation tragedy, but also puppy mill owners are profiting while millions of animals are cruelly mistreated. Numerous investigations of mass-breeding operations have revealed the industry’s abject neglect for these animals’ most basic needs resulting in prolonged suffering and death. Moreover, after their fertility wanes, breeding animals are often killed, abandoned or sold cheaply to another mill to try and get "one more litter" out of the animal. It is estimated that 80% of dogs are acquired from sources other than shelters/rescue groups. By eliminating puppy mills, we not only decrease the suffering of animals at such facilities but also may make an impact on the pet overpopulation issue.
In many cases, animal mills are not illegal. Federal law, or the Animal Welfare Act, only regulates large-scale breeders that resell animals to pet stores or brokers. Moreover, local law in San Francisco does not require anything outside of prescribing basic living conditions. Still, if a breeder violates the minimal requirements twice in a 12-month period, the maximum punishment is only a $150 fine. In most states, a breeding kennel can legally keep dozens, even hundreds, of dogs in cages for their entire lives as long as the dogs are given the basics of food, water and shelter. Even so, people are rarely invited to visit the facilities - only preventing complaints that would give local authorities a reason to investigate the site. It is for this reason that the animal welfare community needs to lobby for increased legislation and end consumer demand for this “product” through public awareness and education.
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Analysis: USDA’s audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Animal Care unit
- AC’s enforcement process was ineffective against problematic dealers1
- Out of 4,250 violators, inspectors found that 2.416 repeatedly violated AWA for minimum standards
- AC inspectors did not cite or document violations properly to support enforcement actions1
- APHIS’ new penalty worksheet calculated minimal penalties for breeders in violation
- APHIS misused guidelines to lower penalties for AWA violators
- Some large breeders circumvented AWA by selling animals over the internet
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- HSUS investigation of Petland’s breeders http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2008/11/hsus_investigation_ties_petland_to_puppy_mills_112008.html
- HSUS support http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/
- ASPCA support http://www.aspca.org/about-us/policy-positions/sources-of-companion-animals.aspx
- Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA http://www.peninsulahumanesociety.org/services/abuse.html
- San Francisco ordinance (SEC 41.12) http://library.municode.com/HTML/14136/level1/ART1AN.html#ART1AN_S41.25PEADCI :
- Number of puppies in puppy mills every year: http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/advocate_guide.pdf
- San Diego (La Mesa) recent city council approval to craft a Stop Puppy Mill ordinance http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/dec/15/la-mesa-city-council-votes-5-0-in-animal-activists/
- USDA audit of animal care inspectors and breeding facilities http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33002-4-SF.pdf
- Austin, TX prohibits retail sale of dogs and cats http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/12/austin_retail_pet_store_ban_121610.html
Tax evasion prosecution as a tool to shut down major breeding facilities indirectly http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2010/12/tax_evasion_120210.html
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