Home > Backyard Breeders, Health Care - Dogs, Pet News, Pet Topics, Puppy Mills > I support the USDA proposed change to internet puppy sales. Will you?

I support the USDA proposed change to internet puppy sales. Will you?


Daisy – my former puppy mill breeding dog

Well, today is it. The last day to comment on the USDA’s proposed rule change to the Animal Welfare Act. I’ve already made my comment, the question is… WILL YOU?

You haven’t heard about the proposed rule change? Then let me tell you what it means in one sentence. The ability for the USDA to inspect and regulate unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills who sell puppies over the internet.

Right now, yes today, puppy mills all over this country are using the internet to sell their puppies. Why? Because when they sell their puppies over the internet they can’t be inspected by the USDA. Nada. Never. This means they can keep their dogs in any condition they want. They don’t have to give them fresh water. They don’t have to feed them on a regular basis. They can keep them in tiny wire cages for their whole life. They don’t have to exercise them. They certainly don’t have to provide them the minimum of care that puppy mills who sell to pet stores do now.

Yes, yes, yes. I know it’s a bit more complicated than that.  Isn’t everything? But at its essence this rule change is about closing a loophole. One that badly needs  closing right now. All you have to do is look at eBay Classifieds to know that puppy millers are doing quite well on the internet. (BTW eBay – nice that you took puppies and kitties off your main listings page, but hiding them from the main page doesn’t address the real issue. You’re still facilitating the sale of puppy mill puppies over the internet.) And why not? They don’t have to worry about inspections. They don’t have to worry about dealing with a middle-man anymore. They simply pose their puppies next to a pop can or place them in front of a cute background and offer to ship them to you for an exorbitant fee.

So today is the day. It’s your chance to make a difference. As the owner of a former puppy mill breeding dog, I ask you to express your support for the proposed rule change. You can do so on the USDA website directly or you can use the easy form created by the ASPCA. Still confused? Hearing conflicting information from breeders on this topic? Go to the source. The USDA clarified some of questions and issues first raised by hobby breeders about the rule change.

Side note: I expect that I will hear from a lot of responsible breeders about how completely wrong I am about the specifics of this rule change. I am sure I will hear I am wrong to support it because it will have an impact on hobby breeders all over America. Great. Have at it. But before you do, answer me one question, why should I oppose a law that may or may not hurt you when I have seen very little from you in the way of opposing puppy mills?

I don’t see responsible and hobby breeders up in arms about the AKC handing out certificates to puppy millers. I never hear about responsible breeders exposing puppy millers who keep their pets in horrific conditions (and who, by the way, also give responsible breeders a bad name). Maybe you do fight against puppy mills and I just never hear about it. But I certainly haven’t seen the AKC stop giving them legitimacy.

I have always made the distinction between responsible “good” breeders and puppy millers. I support what you do. I respect breeders who care about the well-being of their dogs. But on this we will have to agree to disagree. I am for the rule change. I support it. I recognize that a rule change won’t mean there will be more inspectors available to inspect these internet puppy mills. I recognize that this will not stop puppy mills from selling over the internet. But what I do expect is that it will put a speed bump in their path and I’m good with that.

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  1. August 13, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    Kudos to you, Mel, for talking straight on this subject. And for acknowledging, but not cow-towing to, the small breeders who are sure this rule change will be the end of their business/hobby/vocation/whatever they prefer to call what they do.
    There is NO excuse for not supporting any legislation that would aid in cracking down on the sales of puppy mill dogs, that would close that loophole the unscrupulous and greedy now take full advantage of, and to work toward better protection of both the innocent dogs and the public.
    I’m with you completely – fully in favor of the rule change. If the small breeders don’t like the specifics, they’ve had plenty of opportunity to offer suggestions. All I’ve heard from them, quite frankly, is loud complaining and hysterical interpretations. If any have, unknown to me, made sound suggestions in the comments for the rule change, then I respect them for that.
    Here’s to the rule change. Here’s to the day when there are no more puppy mills. Here’s to Daisy.

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM

      Thanks Kim. I think that at some point I have to stay true to what I want to accomplish – an end to puppy mills. I would never say hobby breeders be damned because I believe they breed the kind of dogs we all would want. But, at some point I wish they would stand up to the AKC and puppy mills and say “No more.” Until hobby breeders root out the cancer in their midst they will always be dealing with those who lump them in with those who breed for profit only.

  2. August 14, 2012 at 5:18 AM

    Excellent post! Especially your side note: AMEN!

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      Thank you Sue!

  3. Jen
    August 14, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    I love ya Mel and I totally respect your opinion as I know you do mine. Your post was great and well written as they all are! However, without saying much, you know where I stand on this because it directly affects me, the future hobby breeder. I know you know how I feel about puppy mills and I want them gone just as much as everyone else because they are the ones who give me, the future responsible hobby breeder a bad name. I don’t agree with this proposed rule that will make it difficult if not impossible for me to produce well bred purebred dogs.

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 7:02 AM

      Thanks for commenting Jen. I completely respect your opinion. Thanks for respecting mine too.
      I know you do not support puppy mills – heck you probably see the repercussions when someone buys a sick puppy one from a pet store more than I do.
      I support hobby breeders too. They are the responsible breeders.

  4. August 14, 2012 at 7:34 AM

    We get a lot of problems with our puppy mills here in our country. I really hope they do something in the States about it as I’m sure there are a whole lot more puppy mills there. And sometimes there really isn’t that much of a distinction between a puppy miller and a breeder (who shows ones dogs)… because this so called breeder may be just as bad as a puppy mill as I know of some.

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      It’s frustrating isn’t it? I hope they will do something here as well. I have come to believe that small steps are what it is going to take, so I support incremental changes in hopes that it will some day bring about real change. I think the dangers that lie with a breeder of show dogs is that they aren’t always looking to breed for the betterment of the breed. They are looking for a particular look. That is why we have Bulldogs who can’t breathe and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels suffering because their brains are bigger than their skulls. We can thank dog shows for that.

  5. August 14, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    I just read Jen’s post..Hobby breeders are the best. Because they don’t earn a living from breeding..they have a job…so they do not depend on breeding many dogs just for the $$$!!

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:34 PM

      I agree completely. I think that’s why I respect them so much.

  6. August 14, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Done! Thanks for the links!

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      Thank YOU for commenting!

  7. August 14, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    I have commented at the USDA site and agree with the proposed rule change. I also don’t see it (as currently written) affecting responsible hobby breeders.

    Unfortunately, I also don’t see it affecting people who own puppy mills. In the U.S., we continue to cut funding to the USDA. The inspections they are already supposed to do of livestock operations don’t get done because they don’t have the staff or funding to do them.

    We, as a nation, have to understand that if we want important work to get done, we have to fund it.

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      Thanks Pamela. I agree that cutting the USDA funding does no one any good, dogs, livestock or people. It’s my frustration with all of this to be honest.

  8. August 14, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I am not American so this law doesn’t affect me but I am in support of any legislation that attempts to curb the horrifying practice of mass breeding of dogs. I respect responsible hobby breeders but I don’t see how this law would prevent them from doing what they do best. If you are breeding with the best interests of the dogs at heart, then you should have nothing to worry about.

    • Mel
      August 14, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      I don’t either Kristine. I understand it limits the number of breeding females, but I think 4 is not unreasonable. Not to mention that you can share more as long as the additional 1-4 dogs aren’t residing in the same location as the other 4. I am all for stopping puppy mills.

  9. October 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Why would hobby breeders be “up-in-arms” over puppy millers? First of all, we are not the ones creating them… nor are we the ones buying them. People who buy “cheap” pets are keeping the puppy mills in existence. I currently charge $800-$1500 for well-bred Labs. There were 7 pups in the last litter. 7X1500=$10,500; 6X$800; and 8X$800 for a three-year grand total of $20,100 Oh my GOSH! I’m rich! NOT!
    Let me tell you what $800-$1500 is buying someone who wants a well-bred dog.
    First, it costs me $900/year in dog food to feed my 3 females/1 stud. 2nd: It cost me $900/year X 2 years, plus about $1500 in shots to raise my 2 females/1 stud to get 2 litters. That’s $4200. Since my dogs have the full run of the house, it has cost me about $60/month in bleach and cleaning supplies to launder all our own bedding since they sleep in our beds at night, plus electric to run washer/dryer = $720/year X 3 years = $2160. I paid out $800 X 2 stud fees, $1500 X 1 stud fee, 7 X-rays at $88 each, $350 dewclaw removal, $350 1st shots, $800 advantage multi X 2 years, plus, since I had 2 winter litters, I had to pay an additional $80/month X 4 months for extra heat, not to mention all the blankets, towels ruined, plus puppy pee pads $52/box X 3 boxes, about $800 in mulch for the backyard as 4 adult dogs destroyed all the grass and if I don’t put down mulch my whole house would be coated in mud, $23/month for steam cleaning solution X 8 months/3years, etc. This is all for a total of 22 pups over 3 years’s time.

    This still does not include the cost of the c-section my female had to have $998 and followups. It does not include the cost trying to save a pup before euthanizing it (cost $550). And, it does not cover the costs of the following:
    1. Acting as a door maid to my dog’s to let them in and out all day long.
    2. My time to work and train the adults and their pups. Training includes handling from day 1, paper -training, then potty training. Potty training calls to take every pup out usually 1-2 at a time starting at 4 weeks in order to housebreak them for potential buyers. They are taken out at 10PM, 2AM, 4AM, 7Am, plus all day.
    3. talking with potential buyers.
    4. Advertising (About $600/year)
    5. Treats/etc.
    6. Damage to furniture, car seat belts, shoes (raising the breeding dogs in my home cost me $750 in shoes the first year).

    Now, a bad backyard breeder or puppy miller, would not spend money on expensive stud fees or vet procedures. I currently have a pup that needs $2500 in heart surgery that I’m in the process of also working out.

    They would breed, post an ad for $200-$500, and sell to the first person who thought, my, $800 is way too expensive for a pet. Well-maintained dogs are very expensive to raise and take care of. I don’t think that there are many people out there, including ASPCA animal rights’ freaks, who would get up all night long for 3-4 straight weeks to take care of a litter of puppies. If there are any such peta freaks out there, they are welcome to apply at my current wages… takes all those figures and then subtract from puppy sales total then divide by about 15 hours per day for five weeks X 3 litters and you will come up with your hourly rate of pay.

    So, as a reputable breeder, I’m doing it because I want to…. not because I am forced to. Nor am I responsible for the puppy millers out there getting away with making money and doing very little for it.

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:50 PM

      I think you misunderstand my point. I support responsible breeders. I know they make no money at it (at least not like puppy mills and puppy brokers do). I also know that you do it because you love it and the dog breed you breed. That’s why I don’t get why responsible breeders won’t stand up and say “No More!” to the AKC when it comes to giving puppy mils legitimacy (at least to the unknowing public).

      When you wallow in the mud with the pigs, you might be mistaken for a pig (probably not a great analogy, but I think you get my point).

      • October 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        I see your point, also, but the law affects us, too. According to the new proposed law, I would have to 1) Put my adult dogs and pups in a commercial kennel setting, for which they have never been exposed to. The only time my dogs have ever been “caged” / “crated” is when I absolutely had to leave for 2-3 hours, which was not very often < once per week to go shopping until they learned not to chew glass, etc. or everything else in our home. The only other time from that was when a caseworker came to the home (because she didn't want 4 dogs biding for her attention) as a I foster care, too, and the worker would come once per week for 1-2 hours. Other than that, my animals have never been in cages/crates without human companionship. Second, the proposed law states that puppies would need to be kept separate from other puppies/adults. If you raise good dogs, you don't need to worry about that. Here are some examples: My female had to have a c-section for her last litter (this was also her first litter). After working extensively with the new mom, she was able to care for her pups, including a pup born 5.5 ounces compared to over 1.5 lb littermates. Around week 3, when the pups need more food, not all her teats were working from the c-section and I started to bottle feed. My other female (who hasn't had pups for over 2.5 years, pushed her way in, laid down, and started to care for and nurse the pups, picking up where the other mother left off. I was concerned and called my vet. They said that she is comfort nursing. By day 3, she was actually producing milk and took turns with the other female caring for and nursing the litter. The other female, is our disciplinarian (but in a very positive way). Whenever the pups start fighting with one another and the other refuses "mercy' she steps between them, whispers something that I am unable to hear in doggie language, one sits, and sometimes the aggressor starts picking at her. She takes her mouth and gently places it over the pups head, as a warning that they are still stepping over the line, and then the aggressor pup sits back and ceases harassing its littermates. Under their one-size-fits-all policies, allowing two other females in with 2-8 week or older pups would be "illegal."

        Another interesting point is this. My labs are calm, even-tempered, and naturally obedient and love to please. I wanted to breed dogs for therapy, service, and drug/fire/search and rescue dogs. I called my state for a contract. In order to supply them with healthy, well-balanced, smart labs to do the job, my state stated that they will not work with anyone unless the breeder can supply 90 puppies per year. I find this interesting in the wake of all the puppy mill stuff that the state won't work with a small-scale breeder, but would rather work with a large-scale that may or may not be seen as a Puppy Mill.

        To stop puppy mills, people need to be educated about what they are. One of the things I found interesting is that there is verbage out there that anyone selling pups at Christmas is a "Puppy Mill." I have a female that only comes in heat late Aug. through mid-OCt. I have no way to control her heat cycle and if she takes (she hasn't since 2009), but because I sell or might sell Christmas pups, I could be viewed by the unknowing public as a puppy mill.

        To stop puppy mills, first there needs to be a clear, concise, and appropriate definition of them, not based on arbitrary facts about heat cycles, etc. Second, the public needs to be educated that buying dogs for $200-$500 and sometimes more, is definitely supporting puppy mill-type situations.

  10. October 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I just did the figures. This is for taking care of the litter only for 5 weeks out of 8-10 that they are under care, and does not include the time spent taking care of the adult dogs, taking them for tests, shots, or transportation costs associated with taking them to the vets.

    Under the above stated figures, without adding in the costs of damages, and to only take care of the litter for 5 weeks out of 8 weeks, an ASPCA or Peta freak would get an hourly wage of around $2.50. If you include all other fees, including transportation, a rich breeder such as myself would make around $.02 / hour. I don’t see anyone “up-in-arms” about that!

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      Probably because as a responsible breeder you choose to care for your dogs in a way that is not like puppy mills. I guess I just want responsible breeders to want to be seen as the respectable breeders they are and not seen by the public as the same as “the breeders” who are really just puppy mills. Why do responsible breeders not care if the general public believes that anyone who calls themselves a “breeder” is really not a responsible breeder and really just a puppy miller?

  11. Mel
    October 3, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Alida-you sound like an amazing person. I think you make some really great points and I agree that the proposed changes aren’t perfect. That’s why I think responsible breeders need to be involved in the rule change decisions. I am also horrified by the state contract requirements. Your point on that one is a good one. I also agree with your last two points.

  1. July 24, 2014 at 8:31 PM

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