USDA COVERING UP ABUSES AT PUPPY MILLS
UNDERMINING THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT
USDA veterinarian inspector sharing tips and tricks with breeders on how to get around the Animal Welfare Act.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency responsible for enforcing the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), is greatly disturbed by the fact that state legislators and local government officials have been enacting their own laws and regulations against puppy mills. More than 250 municipalities have now banned the sale of pet store puppies; two states, California and Maryland, have enacted statewide bans on the sales of dogs in pet stores, and seven states and several municipalities, including New York City, have imposed restrictions on pet stores to ensure that they are not sourcing dogs from inhumane breeders.

USDA believes that such state and local restrictions are seriously affecting the economic viability of the commercial dog breeding industry. In response, USDA initiated steps to enhance the image of puppy mills a few years ago by covering up violations of the AWA at puppy mills. USDA defended its actions by explaining that "we need to enable breeders to sell their dogs to pet stores...[and] citing violations is an impediment to such sales."

This past year, USDA has ramped up its efforts to conceal poor conditions at puppy mills amid mounting concerns about the continuing bad reputation of the industry. USDA is determined to paint an idyllic picture of the dog breeding industry regardless of the deplorable conditions at puppy mills and the neglect and abuse inflicted upon puppy mill dogs. In an effort to conceal violations of the federal law to protect dogs, USDA has blocked public access to inspection reports and refuses to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Agency has additionally devised new policies to keep violations from being documented on USDA inspection reports.

The Alliance has listed here the numerous policy changes that USDA has instituted to help cover up substandard conditions at dog breeding facilities.