Last week, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin introduced the “Puppy Protection Act” (S. 4757), a companion to U.S. House Bill 2442—measures that the AKC has expressed concerns about.
The proposal establishes federal mandates for animal care for pet breeders subject to USDA licensing and inspections. While many people think of this as the realm “commercial breeders”, it also impacts small specialty and hobby breeders.
Breeders who maintain more than four intact female small pet mammals --a combination of dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, etc. —and transfers even one pet sight unseen (even for rescue) are subject to USDA licensing.
AKC cares deeply about the wellbeing of all dogs. And many of HR 2442/S 4757’s specific requirements can be categorized as good practices for general pet care, so why is AKC concerned about the Puppy Protection Act?
When good general practices are turned into arbitrary one-size fits all federal mandates, they require everyone to abide by a specific requirement, even if it’s not in the best interest of their dogs. Arbitrary requirements fail to consider the broad range of breeds and types of dogs, best health and breeding practices, or allow for creative approaches and flexibility that allow expert breeders, veterinarians and owners to provide optimal care for individual dogs and advance the art and science of responsible dog breeding.
Guidelines like those in the Puppy Protection Act can make good general practices, but bad federal mandates. Here are some examples:
- Unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area. This sounds good, but allowing all dogs unfettered access to a play yard large enough for running strides may be unsafe and a logistical nightmare. Will each dog go back to its own kennel by itself when finished playing? What if some don’t get along? What if there are females in heat? What if there is insufficient space for private yards of this size for each dog?
- Frequency of meals. Few people would disagree that two meals a day are standard practice for canine care (although young puppies are typically better off with four, and older dogs may only need one, or wish to “graze” throughout the day). Does a federal law mandating two meals a day, in lieu of existing Animal Welfare Act requirements for sufficient and appropriate food, really advance the wellbeing of dogs? While we’re at it, should the federal government also put similar laws in place for humans?
- Flooring. It most cases, solid flooring in a kennel is preferred. However, research by Purdue University[i] and others find that dogs actually benefit from multiple types of flooring and recognizes the health and sanitation benefits of high quality engineered slatted/perforated flooring. Why then, should a federal law mandate solid flooring only?
- Temperatures. There is no species more diverse than canines. A general prohibition of temperatures below 45 degrees or above 85 degrees makes sense for most, but not all. Northern breeds (such as Alaskan Malamutes or Siberian Huskies) prefer and can easily handle temperatures well below freezing. Other dogs, especially newly-born puppies (who require temps significantly higher than 85 degrees) can thrive in higher temperatures. Dogs that hunt, sled, detect explosives, or do other work must be acclimated to cooler or warmer temperatures for their safety.[ii]
HSUS Weighs In, Claiming that Breeders Kill Retired “Breeding Dogs”
In a blog supporting the measure, HSUS stated the act would require “additional critical changes to the regulation of (licensed) breeders … (including) requiring that breeders attempt to re-home retired breeding dogs instead of killing them.”[iii]
Breeders are dog owners. In most cases, the dog that is bred is also a personal pet. HSUS’s outrageous accusation that breeders kill their pets is an insult to all responsible dog owners and should be retracted. As with any other owner, if a person needs to find a new home for a pet, the choice belongs to the owner and the owner should have the option of selecting the best home or rehoming process for that pet. The U.S. has such a large demand for pet dogs that Americans import one million pet dogs a year[iv], and many still have trouble finding the right pet. HSUS’s accusation simply doesn’t pass the sniff test.
The outrageous implication about breeders killing dogs is yet another example of false narratives and policy proposals intended to mislead the public about dog breeders. Given their anti-breeder agenda, it’s no surprise they have little or no breeding expertise or experience.
The truth is, the vast majority of breeders being slandered are dedicated individuals who lovingly persevere in preserving their bloodlines and providing quality pets to families lucky enough to get one -- even as their integrity and expertise comes under constant attack from groups who oppose owning or breeding purpose-bred pets.
Expert dog breeders must have the flexibility to care for their pets in the best and most appropriate manner to ensure each animal receives the care it needs and deserves. They – and the facts – should be consulted when proposing legislation that impacts them.
[i] USDA, Purdue University et al., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946143/
[ii] Dogs and Temperatures, One Size Does Not Fit All, 11/19.2019
[iii] HSUS Blog, 9/30/2020, https://hslf.org/blog/2020/09/Congres-takes-steps-curb-pandemics-puppy-mills-during-busy-day-on-Capitol-Hill-yesterday?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=hslf
[iv] As reported by the US Centers for Disease Control, Federal Register 01/31/19, pp. 724-30.