Congress Reintroduces the PUPS Act

By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (H.R. 847/S. 395), also known as the “PUPS Act,” on Feb. 27.  The bill aims to close the loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that exempts large-scale dog breeders who sell directly to the public from U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection and licensing requirements.  The bill also requires that dogs in commercial breeding facilities have the appropriate space and opportunities for daily exercise, unless a veterinarian specifically exempts it.

Currently, only breeders who sell their dogs to puppy brokers or pet stores are subject to USDA inspection and licensing requirements.  The PUPS Act would re-define a “high-volume retail breeder” as a person who has ownership of at least one or more breeding female dogs and who sells more than 50 of their offspring in any one-year period, requiring that these breeders fall under USDA’s inspection and licensing purview.

The PUPS Act has already garnered broad support from Congress— 61 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate—and has been referred to the respective agriculture committees in both chambers.  No further action is scheduled at this time.

AVMA has been consistently supportive of the PUPS Act in the past, including the identical version of the bill that was introduced last Congress.  AVMA finds the language in the bill to be performance-based and consistent with the Model Bill and Regulations to Assure Appropriate Care for Dogs Intended for Use as Pets.

Apart from the PUPS Act, the USDA also submitted a proposed rule last May that if finalized would revise the definition of a “retail pet store” under the AWA with the goal of closing the same federal inspection and licensing requirement loophole that the PUPS act aims to correct. The AWA’s current definition of a retail pet store has been in place since the 1970s and does not take into account the pets that are sold over the Internet, which the buyers never see before taking custody. The USDA’s proposed rule would also raise the threshold from three to four breeding females that a breeder must own to be covered.

The USDA is currently reviewing the thousands of public comments that they received in response to the proposed rule and have not announced a timeline for when the rule will be finalized. AVMA submitted comments Aug. 15, 2012, in support of the proposed rule.

13 thoughts on “Congress Reintroduces the PUPS Act

  1. Pingback: Speak Up For Animals: 5 Simple Things You Can Do Today | Until Every Cage

  2. I’m sorry, but PUPs only applies to breeders who SELL over 50 dogs per year. Check out sect. 2a of PUPs: it defines “high-volume retail breeders” as those who breed “for profit”, own a breeding female AND SELL over 50 dogs a year. The proposed changes to the AWA law only apply to you if you meet the definition of “high-volume retail breeder”. You can own as many dogs/bitches as you’d like, and breed as many litters as you’d like without regulation if you aren’t SELLING over 50. Whelp 100 puppies in a year if you’d like; the regulation only applies to you if you sell 51 or more of them and thus fulfill the definition of “high-volume retail breeder”. Only when you meet the legal definition of “high-volume retail breeder” are you required to obtain a license, an provide animals in your care with the minimum living conditions required by PUPS and the AWA (for puppies, PUPS only adds the stipulations that a puppy’s cage have no sharp edges and holes in the floor that are large enough so that the puppy’s paws won’t become entrapped, and that the puppy be provided access to exercise on a solid surface once a day). You can even be exempted from some of these regulations with a note from your veterinarian.

    The argument that, in closing the internet sales loophole PUPS unfairly targets responsible breeders, is pretty weak. For breeders who breed AND SELL more than 50 puppies a year, at what point does hobby breeding cease to be “hobby” and become a “revenue stream”? I take no issue with responsible for-profit dog breeding (i.e. puppies that have been bred and sold with the good faith intention that they are free of serious disease); I’m not sure if agree that a breeder, because they consider dog breeding a “hobby”, should be able to generate income from over 50 puppy sales AND be exempted from having to provide minimal welfare. If you feel that the practice of you pastime requires you to breed a substantial number of animals and you are financially unable or ethically opposed to licensure and a legislated minimum standard of care for these animals, then just don’t sell that 51st puppy this year. Unless you run a mill, that shouldn’t be an issue, right?

  3. Once again the government is putting regulations on the law abiding breeders and the ones that are unethical will fall through the cracks and keep doing what they have always done. They don’t have the manpower to inforce any of their laws. WI has a few agents that basicly go around and inspect the facilities that have honestly applied for a license.

  4. Is the AVMA so naiive it doesn’t understand that you don’t look at what the promoters SAY a law is supposed to do – you read the bill text and consider the environment in which it will be applied, to determine what it will actually DO? And almost always with animal legislation (and certainly in the case of PUPS), when you do this, you find out that what they say it will do and what it actually does are pretty much the opposite of each other!

  5. Got your Head in the Sand Veterinarians of South Carolina veterinarians say their business is being neutered by shelters
    The Goal is to eliminate pet ownership in this country by doing away with all breeding of pets first by spaying and neutering everything in sight, then passing laws that prevent people from breeding and owning pets. You vets are killing off your own business by supporting pups.
    By Mary Quinn O’Connor

    Published March 18, 2013

    Veterinarians in South Carolina want state lawmakers to rescue them –
    from animal shelters they say are taking away their business.

    The shelters, which not only spay or neuter feral animals, but also
    provide heartworm tests and dental care, have animal doctors up in arms.
    They claim the issue is the standard of care, as well as the fact that
    the shelters are paid with taxpayer funds and donations.

    “Donor-subsidized care should not mean substandard care for people who
    go to a humane society or shelter to adopt a pet,” said Patricia Hill,
    president of the South Carolina Veterinarians Association……


    …The bill would require animal shelters to stop performing procedures
    on the animals that the vets say should be done only by vets in private
    practice. Hill said the bill stems from more and more complaints from
    vets who are seeing complications in animals due to procedures not done
    properly in the municipal shelters……

  6. For the AVMA to support pups is to support the end of veterinary medicine. This law is intended to end the concept of pet ownership and to do away with show quality animals. No one is going to pay your fees and once you have spayed and neutered everything in sight you will have no more pets to care for or breeding stock. This is about the most stupid thing you have ever done.

  7. Why would veterinarians want my four dogs to live in a USDA type kennel instead of living in my house as pets? Why would they want my puppies whelped and raised in that environment instead of living in my own home with my husband and me? I spend thousands of dollars a year with my veterinarian. Why do veterinarians want me to stop owning my dogs and occasionally raising health-tested, home-raised, well loved puppies that will never be a problem to a shelter or society?

    • You sell more than 50 pups ayear? If not, the law doesn’t apply to you. If you do have fifty pups and four adult dogs in your home throughout the year, there is certainly the potential for unsanitary conditions to occur. (That’s a lot of dogs!) This law would then give USDA permission to take a look at the housing conditions of your animals. If all is clean and healthy, no worries. With government resources as scarce as they are, I really can’t imagine USDA bothering to inspect kennels unless they have had multiple complaints. High quality breeders should welcome the chance to weed out the internet puppy mill breeders.

  8. You endorse PUPS? Dog owners expect and rely on the good judgement of the veterinary professionals who they pay for the care and treatment of their dogs throughout their lives. We expect that good judgement to be based on sound veterinary ethics and knowledge and not on political convenience.

    Shame on you, AVMA, as professionals in veterinary medicine, you should all know that a 4 month old female puppy that is unspayed is not capable of reproduction. Furthermore, you should also know that spaying her at that age chas been shown to compromise her health in several ways:

    significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer)

    increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a
    factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by
    a factor of >5

    triples the risk of hypothyroidism

    increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2,
    causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20%

    increases the risk of persistent or recurring urina
    ry tract infections by a factor of 3-4

    increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal derma
    titis, and vaginitis, especially for female dogs
    spayed before puberty

    doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
    increases the risk of orthopedic disorders

    increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinat

  9. Hi AVMA/Animal Rights Group:
    Do you have a list of vets who do NOT belong to AVMA? If so I would like to have it so i can find a vet that supports my rights to own, breed and co own my chosen breed. A vet who realizes that i could own NO breeding animal on my own property and still fall under the PUPS guidelines. A vet who realizes that my home environment cannot be washed down with 180 degree water and that I have soft surfaces that are not “impervious to moisture” so I would never be able to comply with PUPS. A vet that knows that rally, obedience and fly ball involve “repetitive exercise’ and that I would not be in compliance with PUPS if I used these as forms of exercise for my dogs. A vet who knows that when i write him/her a check for thousands or dollars or slap down my open ended credit card to save my dogs life that i am a caring breeder no matter how many “breedable’ females i own or co own or how many puppies I sell in one year. A vet that knows that without me he/her would not be in business or that their business would be sadly curtailed.
    Please send me that list of non AVMA vet so i can support that person.. the one who respects my rights and my dogs and my brain.
    Thank you

    • I would like that list too. The AVMA members who will be out of work when there are no more domestic animals to treat (or the shelters have taken over vet care, as bemoaned by SC vets recently) are welcome to stand in the unemployment line.

  10. I think it is a shame that AVMA is sidint with the animal rights movement on this. The wording of both the PUPS act and the proposed USDA changes do nothing to improve the welfare of animals; they target the home hobby breeder and if passed, will eliminate the best source of well-bred puppies. AVMA is biting the very hand that feeds it.

  11. I do not think that a number of bitches be consider. as different breeds have many puppies and some only have one or two, if you are going to do this only the number of puppies per year be considered, most of us breeders do all the health checks for our breeds and are very responsible, for whom our dogs go to, I do think the internet sales need to be careful as they have know idea where these pups comes from and what there health background are. There should be some guarantees and health records on parents and where they come from