Puppy mill dogs do have friends in high places. Thank goodness. Once again, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has led the charge. On November 29, 2022, Durbin and 23 Democratic colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, urging him to update standards for commercial dog breeding facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-urges-usda-to-update-standards-for-commercial-dog-breeding-facilities
Together, these elected officials are speaking up for the voiceless dogs imprisoned in America's puppy mills. This is familiar territory for Senator Durbin - he's been speaking up about poor conditions and low standards at puppy mills for more than a decade.
In 2013, Senator Durbin initiated a bill to help dogs being bred commercially for resale: the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act or the PUPS act, co-sponsored by Durbin and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). The legislation would require all breeders who sell more than 50 dogs annually – online or through pet stores – to be licensed, undergo inspections, and meet standards of care for the animals they breed. The licensing and inspection requirements in the current law do not apply to online sellers. See the bill here: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-introduces-bill-to-regulate-online-puppy-sales
What's really important in this letter is how Durbin and fellow co-sponsors clearly state what needs to be done to improve standards and why. And Durbin also highlights the strong Congressional support for the Puppy Protection Act, S.1385 of 2021 found here: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-introduces-bill-to-expand-protections-for-puppies
Getting to the heart of the problem of low standards, Durbin says, "American consumers assume that "USDA-licensed" dog dealers meet high standards for raising dogs." He points out how U.S. consumers were disappointed to learn of the low standards their pet store puppy had to endure before being purchased.
As an advocate and author dedicated to seeing the end of factory farming of dogs, the dream is to have puppy mills outlawed immediately. But since this won’t magically happen, the next best thing is having advocates in Congress championing better standards that become law. Additionally, huge educational grassroots effort by multiple groups dedicated to ending puppy mills (HSUS, Bailing Out Benji, Companion Animal Protection Society, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, etc.) share why pet store puppies are a consumer welfare and animal cruelty issue. Six states (CA, WA, ME, MD, IL, and NY) have banned the sale of puppies at pet stories along with more than 350 communities.
All of this translates into more consumers understanding they can end this atrocity called puppy mills by finding their next companion canine at local rescues, shelters, and from reputable home breeders who care for their dogs like family members because they are. I believe we are even closer to a dream realized.