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From 31 July 2005 Issue

Protect Dogs and Cats from Commercial Breeding:
Contact Members of Congress TODAY
From Animal Protection Institute - info@api4animals.org

Because of a current loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), large breeding facilities know as "puppy mills" are allowed to sell animals directly to the public without oversight; many of these facilities are exempt from the minimum standards of care required by the AWA. Most states don’t inspect these operations either.

The Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS) addresses this growing problem. If passed, PAWS will amend the Animal Welfare Act to strengthen the ability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate the pet industry. The bill would require a USDA license for breeders who breed 7 or more litters of dogs or cats per year. In addition, importers, Internet sellers, and other non-breeder dealers who sell more than 25 dogs or cats per year would be covered by this bill, and it would assure USDA access to the records of persons who acquire dogs for resale. Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representative to cosponsor this important bill.

Cruelty cases are occurring at an alarming rate, and local shelters must attempt to seize and care for hundreds of diseased and dying puppies after the problem has spun out of control. Unnecessary animal affliction occurs because commercial breeders selling puppies and kittens directly to the public are currently unregulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Individual states are ill equipped to regulate such operations because interstate commerce is routine in the commercial pet trade.

Take Action Today

Use the sample letter below as a guide to contact your members of Congress on this important issue. Please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor PAWS. You can reach your U.S. Senators and Representative by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. To look up your lawmakers visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov/.

For more information, contact Barbara Schmitz at 916-447-3085 x208 or bschmitz@api4animals.org.Thank you for taking action to protect animals.

Sample Letter

The Honorable [Full Name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative [Last Name]:

I ask that you co-sponsor and support H.R. 2669, introduced by Representative Jim Gerlach. This bill, known as the Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005, would amend the Animal Welfare Act to strengthen the ability of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to regulate the pet industry. This legislation would close a loophole in current law that allows some in the pet industry to operate below the acceptable care standards for pets.

Wholesale dog and cat breeding facilities currently are licensed to operate by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are required to comply with the rules and regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA sets forth standards for humane handling and treatment of animals. However, under current law only breeders and others who sell animals at wholesale are regulated, which allows some commercial breeders and brokers of companion animals to avoid this government regulation by selling directly to the consumer. As a result, the USDA has a very limited ability to oversee the care and condition of animals in these facilities.

The Pet Animal Welfare Statute calls for the regulation of large commercial breeders who sell directly to the public; however, this legislation does not affect hobby breeders or dog and cat fanciers. The legislation would require a USDA license for breeders who breed seven or more litters of dogs or cats per year. In addition, this legislation would encompass importers, Internet sellers, and other non-breeding dealers who sell more than 25 dogs or cats per year. Under this bill, the USDA’s enforcement authority would be strengthened, and the USDA would be assured of access to records indicating the sources of dogs acquired for resale.

As many as 2,000,000 dogs and cats may be sold to consumers next year in the U.S. This legislation would help to ensure that these animals are bred in facilities that meet minimal common-sense standards for their humane handling and treatment. This is the very least that consumers expect.

In addition, H.R. 2669 would bring consistency to the dog and cat breeding industry by requiring the large facilities that breed animals for direct sale to the public to abide by the same standards as the facilities that sell to animal brokers and pet stores. All of these entities engage in the market for the retail sale of dogs and cats; for the sake of fairness, they all should be treated in the same manner and required to abide by the same basic requirements under the AWA.

For these reasons, I urge you to support H.R. 2669. I look forward to receiving a response from you regarding your position on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Go on to Job Opportunity
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