In-Depth: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to improve standards for federally licensed commercial dog breeders. When he introduced this bill in the previous session of Congress alongside the Puppy Protection Act, Rep. Fitzpatrick said:
“It’s crucial we stand up for animals—both as individuals and as a society. That means strengthening important regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to meet this goal. As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) supports this bill. Its president and CEO, Matt Bershadker, praised both this and the Puppy Protection Act in the 115th Congress:
“The bills introduced by Representatives Fitzpatrick and Crist would significantly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs kept in inhumane conditions by federally licensed commercial breeders. These animals often spend their entire lives in filthy, crowded cages stacked on top of one another with no access to adequate veterinary care or regular exercise. Even when a breeder’s license is revoked for violating these notoriously weak federal standards, they too often continue breeding animals by hiding their business under a family member’s name. We thank Representatives Fitzpatrick and Crist for their leadership on these measures to enhance animal welfare enforcement and improve standards of care to reduce cruelty and suffering for dogs in commercial breeding facilities."
This bill has 40 bipartisan cosponsors, including 34 Democrats and six Republicans, in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had 166 bipartisan cosponsors, including 139 Democrats and 27 Republicans, and didn’t receive a committee vote. This bill has the support of the ASPCA and the Humane Society.
Of Note: The USDA regulates federally licensed commercial dog breeders that sell dogs wholesale to retail pet stores and commercial brokers, or directly to consumers over the internet. While the Animal Welfare Act is meant to ensure that dogs in federally licensed facilities are treated humanely, Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office argues that “current regulations fall far short.”
The ASPCA observes that currently, it’s possible for suspended or revoked breeders to evade enforcement by having their family members apply for a new license, allowing the breeder’s business to continue as usual despite the documented problems. The Humane Society Legislative Fund argues that means this bill “would help stop puppy mill cruelty by ensuring that puppy dealers who have been shut down due to poor animal care remain closed, as the spirit of the Animal Welfare Act intended.”
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / cws_design)