(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.