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Durbin Introduces Bill To Regulate Online Puppy Sales

CHICAGO (STMW) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced a bill which would require all breeders that sell more than 50 dogs a year to be licensed and to undergo inspections to ensure dogs are receiving proper care.

Though most commercial breeders are responsible dog owners who lovingly tend to the animals in their care, according to Durbin, there are substandard facilities, sometimes referred to as "puppy mills," that not only harm puppies and the people who buy them, they also threaten the reputation of the broader dog breeding industry.

Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), wholesale animal breeders – those who sell to pet stores, for instance -- are regulated, licensed and subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at USDA, according to a release from Durbin's office.

Because retail pet stores are thought to be supplied by licensed, regulated breeders, retail stores are not regulated. Now that on-line puppy sales happen every day, that law has not kept pace with recent developments, Durbin says. Internet sales bypass the retail pet store.

The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety -- PUPS -- Act, which Durbin introduced on Thursday, would bring direct-to-buyer dog breeders into the regulatory framework that will require them to meet the basic standards for shelter, care and exercise, the release said.

"The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities -- where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care," Durbin said. "Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these disturbing cases. My bipartisan bill requires breeders who sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to obtain a license from the USDA and ensures that the dogs receive proper care."

A similar bill was introduced last Congress, according to the release. This bill is cosponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA).

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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