Puppies, and the people who love them, scored a win today when the USDA finalized a rule prohibiting the importation of dogs younger than six months old from foreign puppy mills into the United States for resale. The rule also stipulates that dogs who enter the U.S. must be in good health.
Every year thousands of weeks-old dogs are crammed into dirty, crowded plastic tubs and shipped on transcontinental flights to the U.S. Exposed to extreme temperatures and with little access to food or water, most of the dogs become ill en route. Many die. All could present a public health risk because barely weaned dogs aren’t old enough to have received their full set of vaccinations.
Far too often, this story has an unhappy ending. Hopeful pet parents arrive at the airport to take home their newest addition to the family and are met with a sick puppy and the promise of thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. Or worse, eventual heartbreak when their new pet succumbs to her illness and dies.
But it’s a story that changes today. And for animal advocates and humane legislators, the final rule is a victory decades in the making. We began the process in 2008, when Congress passed the Farm Bill with an HSLF-backed provision to end the importation of puppies bred in foreign puppy mills into the United States for resale. It took USDA six years to finalize the rule to implement the ban. But today we finally have a firm outcome on the issue. And with the advent of global commerce—and what we’ve seen in the form of trade with exotic animals, ivory and rhino horn, and factory farming—this ban comes just in time to prevent a massive influx of puppy mill dogs from China, eastern Europe, and Mexico.
It’s the second important move the USDA has made to protect puppies in the last 12 months. Last September the agency brought Internet puppy sellers under the federal Animal Welfare Act regulations, requiring licensing, inspection, and basic standards of care for the first time. That rule went into effect last November and will bring oversight to thousands of commercial breeders.
We applaud the USDA and salute the members of Congress who stood up for dogs and consumers and urged the USDA to take action, including Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and David Vitter (R-LA) and Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Dina Titus (D-NV). As we work to eliminate puppy mill cruelty across the United States, it’s a relief to know that sick puppies from foreign puppy mills will no longer be contributing to the problem.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at animalsandpolitics.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.