Senators want to close online puppy loophole
February 28th, 2013
12:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Senators want to close online puppy loophole

(CNN) - Maybe Congress really is going to the dogs.

A bipartisan pair of senators re-introduced a bill Wednesday that would regulate the online sale of puppies.

The legislation, "Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act," would require all breeders that sell more than 50 dogs a year to be licensed and to undergo inspections.

The effort, lawmakers say, would ensure that man's best friend is getting the right amount of tender-loving care.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana paired up to help out the pooches. They first introduced the bill in March 2011 during the last Congress, but it failed in committee. A House version of the bill at the time also failed.

"The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities – where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill and injured dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care," Durbin said in a statement. "Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases."

At issue is a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that regulates wholesale animal breeders who sell to pet stores. Because retail pet stores are thought to be supplied by licensed, regulated breeders, retail stores are not regulated.

Online puppy sales have increased in popularity but dealers were able to sidestep the same standards that dogs in pet stores must meet. The PUPS Act aims to funnel direct sales of dogs into the same regulatory framework, Durbin's office says.

Vitter said he was also alarmed by reports of inhumane treatment and abusive breeding practices of dogs sold online.

"The PUPS Act introduced by Senator Durbin and me will help ensure that puppies are treated humanely and bred in safe and sanitary facilities and that consumers can purchase healthy pets for their families."

The Department of Agriculture proposed a rule to close the loophole last year, but the rule has not gone into place.

- CNN's Ashley Killough and Mary Grace Lucas contributed to this report.

Filed under: Congress • David Vitter • Dick Durbin • puppy
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The effort, lawmakers say, would ensure that man's best friend is getting the right amount of tender-loving care."

    Yeah. Nevermind offering some of that TLC to .... well, just forget it.
    If I have to explain .....

    February 28, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. just askin

    so why do the feds need to get involved with this??? isn't this something better left to the states and local authorities? aren't there already enough laws on the books that are not being enforced?

    February 28, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Chelle

    No perhaps this isn't a top priority, however it needs to happen and will actually save taxpayer dollars.

    Not that puppy mills don't exist in Canada but it is much harder to do here. Dogs advertised as purebred MUST come with CKC registrations. Dogs advertised as purebred cannot be sold in pet stores. This means that most puppy mills have a harder time finding "customers". It also means with just a little research the buyer can tell if a breeder is legitimate or not. If they don't offer registration papers, your dog is not purebred and likely the result of someone who just wants to make a quick buck.

    February 28, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Tom

    Let me see if I've got this straight. If I want to sell puppies I need a license and must submit to regular inspections to make sure I'm running my business right. But if I sell assault rifles and armor-piercing ammunition, I can go to gun shows and sell enough weapons to arm a small invasion and I don't need a license or be bothered by any government scrutiny whatsoever. I'm all for doing something about puppy mills, but the absurdity of our priorities is truly amazing. If the puppy dealers started calling their product "assault puppies" would it suddenly be hands off, nothing for the government to see here?

    February 28, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. luckylei

    long overdue. good job guys

    February 28, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    We're facing catastrophic spending cuts and these two senators are debating doggie legislation??? Unbelievable. We're indeed going to the dogs. God help us.

    February 28, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. ST

    Oh ya! they are going line by line on TO DO LIST and puppies have been picked as a priority. Seriousness never has a place in Washington.

    February 28, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Perhaps the republican senator would change his mind on the 11th hour when it finally hits him that some of Bo's relatives would also benefit from this legislation. Hey, its not easy being First Dog either.

    February 28, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. banasy©

    With all of the other pressing problems that this nation is facing, these senators pick...puppies? Really?

    February 28, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. WallyT

    Finally! Something good proposed by Washington!!! Woof!

    February 28, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. TomGI

    At first look, I'm not opposed to this bill. Puppies need protection from exploitation. I'd like to hear about enforcement. Without enforcement there is no compliance. Since there is no money to keep criminals in jail, I wonder if this is just a token move for these legislators to get some free publicity with a bill that is warm and fuzzy.

    February 28, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    just askin

    so why do the feds need to get involved with this??? isn't this something better left to the states and local authorities?
    Uh, internet = interstate commerce.

    February 28, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. jaydm84

    Some people are acting as if this is their only priority. They will spend a total of a few hours on this for the legislation and vote. Give me a break. Plus the Govt will get a little extra money for givng out the licenses and will give out a few jobs for the inspectors. Oh, and the dogs will be safe. Win win.

    February 28, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. jaydm84

    This will literally take a day (maximum) of time to complete. Stop complaining they are waisting their time. This will bring in revenue for the costs of the licensure and get a few people some jobs as inspectors. Oh, and the dogs will be safe. Win win.

    February 28, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. IL-MO Rescue, NFP

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. This is not putting animals before people. This is compassion, pure and simple. All civilized societies should take into account the welfare of the least among us.

    February 28, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. a little sad

    I'm kind of liking that the most comments today are on puppies!

    February 28, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. Greg

    SO GLAD congress is hard at work on the tough issues. They really earn their paychecks.

    February 28, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Wake up People!

    Once again, no offense to the puppies.....but, can we get an update on what's going on with the Voting Rights?

    February 28, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. allie

    for everyone saying this shouldn't be a priority, first, because congress might take action on it doesn't mean it's a "priority." also, as Ghandi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." i believe that wholeheartedly.

    February 28, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. GK

    This law won't only shut down puppy mills, it will ruin perfectly legitmate hobby breeders.

    February 28, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. single mom

    They can do this, but can't get a budget through in 5 years? Wow. I'm all for protecting animals, but really!

    February 28, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    It is said that when humans stop obeying the commandments of God they start " going to the dogs."

    February 28, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. goddessluckystar

    Folks are ya not reading this
    Give the pups a paw up for making congress do something that 300 million people can't get them to do


    February 28, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. goddessluckystar


    February 28, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. callmecrazy

    Five bucks says that Vitter will filibuster this bill because of pressure from the kitty lobby.

    February 28, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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