Commend USDA for Cracking Down on Internet Pet Sales

Target: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Goal: Commend Department for new animal welfare reforms

New rules passed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would subject dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies online, by mail, or over the phone, to the same rules faced by wholesale animal breeders. New regulations will force these breeders to apply for federal licenses. Many online breeders have previously classified themselves as retail pet stores, which do not have to be licensed because buyers can see the health of the animal for themselves.

The USDA’s Kevin Shea says that the idea behind the new rules is that either government inspectors or buyers see the animals with their own eyes before they are sold. Many online pet retailers are puppy mills, which often have filthy, unhealthy kennels with many dogs confined to a small cage, many of them ill or suffering from genetic problems. Supposedly, these new rules stem from the USDA’s inspector general’s report from  2010, which uncovered grisly conditions at puppy mills around the country. The report recommended that the department tighten animal welfare laws to cut down on unscrupulous breeders.

The new rules, first proposed last year, would ensure that most people who sell pets over the Internet, by phone or mail order can no longer do so sight-unseen. Sellers either must allow buyers to see animals in person before they purchase them, or obtain a license and be subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The USDA says there were many complaints from customers who received pets sight unseen that were sick or dying. Whereas the new rules are targeted at dog breeders, they can also affect any type of animal breeder. Many large breeders of cats and rabbits will be affected by the rules.

Animal welfare groups are thrilled by the new rule. ‘There are hundreds of thousands of dogs languishing in small wire cages, denied vet care and exposed to the elements that literally had no protection under federal law,’ Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States said. ‘This turns that around.’ He said that while mail-order dog sales were a problem before popular use of the Internet, online sales have made the problem much worse.

Some small scale breeders have lobbied against the new rules, saying it could put them out of business. The USDA says that because of this, they decided on the number of four breeding females. ‘People who have generally been thought of as ‘hobby breeders’ continue to be exempt,’ USDA’s Shea said. He said the licenses will cost $750 or less and complying with the USDA regulations should only be expensive for breeders who aren’t already ensuring their animals have adequate housing and medical care.

The USDA’s new regulations are a great step towards eradicating puppy mills and giving animals a better start in life. Commend the USDA for making stricter regulations to crack down on Internet pet sales.


Dear United States Department of Agriculture,

Thank you for making regulations regarding licensing of Internet pet retailers. Many pets are bought on the Internet sight unseen, which makes puppy mills flourish while their dogs continue to suffer. These rules make it much harder for puppy mills to sell consumers sick and badly cared for animals, since they would have to be seen in person before they could be sold.

These new regulations are a great start to solving the problem of puppy mills and Internet pet sales from bad breeders. A license is a great way to make sure that the USDA can regulate where the animals are coming from and make sure they are healthy before they are sent off to their new owners. Thank you for cracking down on Internet pet sales.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Steve 65 via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Pets are not a commodity to be sold on the internet. This should be a felony and a crime.

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