WASHINGTON — A dozen lawmakers introduced legislation this week aimed at creating stronger standards for breeders' overall care and housing for dogs.
If passed, the Puppy Protection Act would ensure that dogs within breeders’ care have suitable and safe enclosures, access to outdoor areas, and regularly interact with other dogs and humans.
During the past year of lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have opened their homes to new four-legged friends. However, the President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund Sara Amundson said that also means that there was also an increase in the number of animals purchased from breeders.
"...Tens of thousands of puppies and mother breeding dogs are living in deplorable conditions in puppy mills across the country to meet this demand," Amundson said in a statement.
The legislation would establish new cage and space requirements, requiring breeders to ensure dogs can stand on their hind legs without touching the top of their enclosure. It would also increase the number of square feet of their enclosure based on a dog’s size. It would also require that dogs over the age of 12 weeks have unrestricted access from their enclosure to an outdoor exercise area.
The Puppy Protection Act of 2021 would also require breeders to stop stacking caged dogs on top of each other and urge them to give dogs 30 minutes of socialization time with humans and screenings by veterinarians before each breed attempt.
“As many Americans welcomed a dog into their family during the pandemic, we must ensure that the demand for pets is met with a commitment from breeders to raise dogs in humane conditions before they find their forever home,” said U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a statement. "The Puppy Protection Act will ensure breeding dogs and puppies will be well-cared for and live a healthy life.”
The other senators that co-sponsored the legislation include Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).