By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Summer is a time of rest and relaxation for many of us, but there has been no lull in our fight to end puppy mills. We have made real progress in our campaign to stop inhumane dog breeders who mass-produce puppies for sale through third party outlets like pet stores and online sites that allow their cruelty to remain hidden. Here’s a roundup of recent wins:
- In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined a puppy mill breeder in Missouri for continuing to sell puppies without an appropriate federal license. We exposed Deanna Brundage’s violations of state law in our 2021 Horrible Hundred report and the Missouri Department of Agriculture took away her license. Brundage is now prohibited from obtaining a USDA license in the future and must pay a fine of $12,000.
- On August 1, the USDA officially ended the use of teachable moments, a watered-down enforcement approach that allowed inspectors to avoid documenting problems at puppy mills, roadside zoos and other regulated facilities. At some of those puppy mills, our researchers and investigators had uncovered inhumane conditions such as ramshackle, crowded cages, and numerous state violations linked to the same facilities where federal inspectors documented no issues. Now, every violation found by federal inspectors must be documented on breeders’ and dealers’ inspection reports, and we’re grateful to the Congress for directing USDA to stop using teachable moments in the FY22 budget.
- The last puppy-selling pet store in Maryland has shut down and its owners must pay a hefty fine. Maryland’s Attorney General sued Maryland Puppies Online for continuing to sell puppies in a retail store in violation of the state’s No More Puppy Mills Act. Maryland Puppies’ owners will have to pay at least $75,000 and must pay back consumers who were sold sick puppies. This was the second of two lawsuits filed by Attorney General Brian E. Frosh against pet stores that flouted the new law; the other one was against Just Puppies, which was fined $100,000 last year. As a result of Attorney General Frosh’s action, we can now say there are finally no more puppy stores in Maryland.
- In early August, three Furry Babies puppy stores received notices of revocation of their dog dealer licenses in Illinois after the Illinois Department of Agriculture determined they were still selling puppy mill puppies despite the state’s new Humane Pet Store Law prohibiting that practice. We’re now pressing state authorities to take action against other pet stores, including Petland, that are claiming to be “dog dealers” instead of “pet store operators” and continuing to sell puppy mill dogs.
- As of the end of August, U.S. localities have passed 430 local humane pet store ordinances across 33 different states, with Oregon (Bend) and Arkansas (Fayetteville) recently enacting their first ordinances.
Many other states and localities are considering humane pet store laws or breeder regulations, and we’ll be working to support them in any way we can. New York is poised to become the sixth state to prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores, with legislation headed to the Governor’s desk. We will also continue to lobby support for the Puppy Protection Act in Congress which will help improve the quality of life for puppies living in large-scale breeding facilities. To find out more about how you can become involved, contact your state director or follow us on social media. By working together to educate the public and secure better legal protection for dogs, we can hasten the day when puppy mills are little more than a bad memory.
Kitty Block is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.