U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., both members of the Congressional Action Protection Caucus., brought back a bill reforming the Animal Welfare Act and another on how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) handles commercial breeding licenses. Also on board are U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn.
The congressmen’s “Puppy Protection Act” tweaks USDA regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to enact “stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, breeding practices, and specific standards for socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs” for commercial dog breeders that engage sell dogs to retailers and brokers.
Fitzpatrick introduced the bill this week.
“It’s crucial we stand up for animals—both as individuals and as a society. That means strengthening important regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to meet this goal,” said Fitzpatrick. “As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”
“Our four-legged, furry friends need us to be their advocate in the people’s Congress,” said Crist on Wednesday. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan piece of legislation that gives voice to the voiceless, protecting man’s best friend from exploitative dealers and breeders.”
“I have long championed legislation that protects our nation’s animals from abuse and neglect,” said Reschenthaler. “By moving toward more humane standards for commercial dog breeders in our country, this bill will promote animal welfare and provide enhanced protections for the puppies throughout our country. I hope these efforts will improve the lives of our dogs and defend these creatures who cannot defend themselves. Too many of our dogs currently suffer from inhumane conditions, but I look forward to working with my colleagues Representatives Fitzpatrick, Crist, and McGovern to provide protections for these animals in the future.”
“Despite the Animal Welfare Act, too many dogs are still treated inhumanely by commercial breeders and spend their whole lives in conditions that most dog owners would find cruel and completely unacceptable,” said McGovern. “I’m proud to join Representatives Fitzpatrick, Crist, and Reschenthaler in introducing this important bipartisan bill.”
The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and the Animal Welfare Institute are supporting the bill.
“We envision a day when a puppy will never again find her paws and legs trapped in the wire flooring of a stacked cage at a puppy mill. The Puppy Protection Act will strengthen baseline standards of care that must be provided by large commercial dog breeders,” said Sara Amundson, the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Thank you to the leadership of Reps. Fitzpatrick, Crist, McGovern, and Reschenthaler for introducing this important bipartisan measure to improve the living conditions of dogs and puppies. We will fight to support its passage.”
“The Puppy Protection Act will help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs kept in inhumane conditions by federally licensed commercial breeders,” said Richard Patch, the vice president of federal affairs for the ASPCA. “Current regulations allow dogs in federally licensed facilities to spend their entire lives in filthy, crowded cages stacked on top of one another with no access to adequate veterinary care or regular exercise. We thank Representatives Fitzpatrick, Crist, Reschenthaler, and McGovern for their continued leadership on the Puppy Protection Act and call upon USDA to ensure the thorough and proper enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.”
“AWI thanks Reps. Fitzpatrick, Crist, Reschenthaler, and McGovern for their efforts to update and enhance the requirements for the care of dogs in breeding facilities. Such improvements are long overdue for both breeding facilities and all entities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act,” said Nancy Blaney, the director of government affairs at AWI.
Crist and Fitzpatrick championed the same bill at the start of last year but were not able to get it over the finish line.
The bill has been sent to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. So far, there is no Senate counterpart.