An estimated 167,388 breeding dogs are currently living in USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)-licensed commercial facilities for breeding purposes this very moment.*
A USDA license = a puppy wholesale license. Any dog 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 USDA regulates these facilities according to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Minimal Standards of Care at breeding facilities:
- Over 2 million puppies are bred in mills each year.
- 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 that must be available to 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, not including the tail.
- A dog may be caged 24 hours a day for his or her entire life, 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.
- Dogs can be housed indoors or out with minimal temperature regulation.
- Human interaction is not required.
- Breeding females at the first heat cycle and every heat cycle thereafter is permissible.
- Unwanted animals may be killed in a variety of ways or auctioned off.
- Many of the AWA’s requirements are vague. The AWA leaves it up to the mill owners to determine what is “adequate”.
- The USDA currently has an estimated 110 inspectors on staff to inspect all the facilities under its supervision, not just commercial dog breeders and brokers.
- There is no transparency to consumers or the public about the results of USDA inspections.
Read more: USDA License = Wholesale License
Sources: Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The Puppy Mill Project, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)