Pet Retail Ordinances

Pet Retail Ordinances

When people purchase puppies from pet stores, they are often unknowingly supporting puppy mills. Puppy mills are large-scale inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that produce puppies in large volume. They are designed to maximize profits and commonly disregard the physical, social, and emotional well-being of the breeding dogs and their puppies. Harley’s Dream supports pet retail ordinances at the city, county, or state level as a critical strategy to help stop the cruel puppy mill industry and to move our country forward toward a more humane future for our canine companions.

  • The standards governing the care of dogs and cats in commercial breeding facilities are set forth in the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency responsible for overseeing the commercial dog breeding industry and enforcing the AWA. Any breeder who wishes to sell to a pet store or to consumers over the Internet with five or more breeding females must be licensed with the USDA.
  • The AWA and USDA are not sufficient to protect dogs in commercial-breeding facilities:
    • The AWA’s standards are too minimal to ensure humane care and treatment.
    • The USDA does not effectively enforce the AWA.
    • The USDA inspection process is not adequate and inspection records are not available to the public.
  • Even if enforced to its fullest extent, the AWA only requires the survival-only standards in housing facilities and care, well below what most would consider humane. The AWA allows for significant discretion by puppy mill owners to decide what constitutes an adequate level of care for the dogs with respect to living environment, cleanliness and sanitation, feeding, welfare, veterinary care, and housing.  What is allowed under the AWA?
    • There is no limit to the number of dogs on the premises. A puppy mill could have hundreds or thousands of dogs.
    • There is no requirement on the number of staff to provide care for the dogs.
    • Dogs may be kept in stacked cages.
    • Mesh or wire flooring is allowed.
    • Dogs may be forced to relieve themselves in their cages.
    • Dogs may be confined in spaces only six inches larger than their bodies on each side, not including the tail.
    • Dogs may be caged 24 hours a day for their entire lives, only removed from the cage to be bred.
    • There is no exercise requirement if dogs are housed with other dogs and certain minimal size requirements are met for the dog’s enclosure.
    • Human interaction is not required.
    • They are allowed to breed females at the first heat cycle and every heat cycle thereafter.
    • Unwanted animals may be killed or auctioned off.
    • Many of the AWA’s requirements are vague and leave it up to the mill owners to determine what is “adequate”.
  • Three to four million animals are euthanized in shelters each year and over one million puppies are produced by USDA licensed facilities (supplied to pet stores & online puppy brokers) each year.
  • There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S.
  • Pet Store ordinances encourage individuals seriously interested in becoming a pet owner to seek adoption or to seek out responsible breeders where they can visit the facility to meet the parent dogs.
  • Adoption from rescues/shelters will help reduce the number of pets being euthanized in local shelters.  We believe there would be 75% fewer shelter dogs if puppy mills didn’t exist.
  • Responsible breeders do exist and do NOT sell their puppies to pet stores.  Pet store ordinances would not affect their ability to humanely breed, raise, and sell their puppies.
  • Ordinances do not take away an individual’s right to own animals; they will better regulate and ensure transparency about where those animals are coming from (responsible breeders or adoption from shelter/rescue).
  • Pet stores can continue to flourish by switching to a humane model, selling services and products (pet food, toys, grooming, boarding) and collaborating with local shelters/rescues with adoption services.
  • Pet store ordinances would prevent the selling of potentially sick pets from out-of-state commercial breeding facilities.
    • Americans have made it clear that they do not support puppy mills. That’s why states, cities, and counties have already passed humane ordinances/legislation.  In the US alone:
      • 289 Cities
      • 23 Counties
      • 2 states:  California and Maryland
    • Literature published in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association supports the fact that dogs sold at pet stores are at a greater risk for behavioral problems than those obtained from noncommercial breeders. Another study in Applied Animal Behavior Science found that breeding dogs at commercial establishments were significantly more likely to have health and behavioral issues.
    • Pet retail ordinances are designed to protect the public from fraud, with respect to pet origin and health, and deter the sale of commercially bred animals with illnesses, behavioral issues, and genetic problems.

Harley’s Dream is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating awareness and educating the public about the cruel commercial dog breeding industry, also known as puppy mills. It was formed in honor of Harley, a tiny one-eyed puppy mill survivor who went on to become the American Hero Dog.  Harley came from a puppy mill and the founders of Harley’s Dream have also been inside many puppy mills and dog auctions.  Harley’s Dream supports pet retail ordinances at the city, county, or state level as a critical strategy to help stop this cruel industry and move forward toward a more humane future for our canine companions.