PUPS Bill's Bite Worse than its Bark?

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If the federal Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) legislation is passed, individuals who raise and sell a few litters of hunting dogs per year may soon be under the same scrutiny as high-volume dog breeders. The PUPS legislation would require anyone who owns or co-owns dogs that give birth to 50 or more puppies offered annually to be regulated under existing dog dealer regulations, as set under the Animal Care Division of the United States Department of Agriculture. 

The Humane Society of the United States, and other animal rights organizations, support this bill. 

The bill originated back in the spring of 2011. The American Kennel Club (AKC) immediately picked up on the bill’s progress and in AKC News stated, “These regulations are designed for high-volume commercial kennels that produce puppies for wholesale, and require a USDA commercial license, maintenance of specified commercial kennel engineering standards and regular inspections.” 

The AKC believes the bill is misleading and listed the following concerns with the bill, as cited in a Jan. 03, 2012, news article: 

  • Definition of "breeding female" as an intact female dog aged 4 months or older. This definition is misleading because female dogs are not sufficiently mature at 4 months of age to be bred. Additionally, such a definition should not be necessary if a "high volume retail breeder" is to be based on sales, rather than the number of dogs owned.

  • Definition of "high volume retail breeder" as someone with "an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs." This definition is overly broad and does not take into account the tradition of co- and joint ownerships common among dog show participants, sporting dog trainers, hunting club members, and other hobbyists. Additionally, a reference to the number of dogs owned by a breeder is unnecessary and potentially misleading in legislation that does not limit ownership rights per se.

  • Current exercise language is overly vague and should be clarified to ensure that the daily exercise requirements do not preclude use of legitimate training or exercise equipment or other types of physical activity. 

The AKC is not the only organization flying a red flag about PUPS. The Sportsmen’s Daily, a publication of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), is concerned, as well. In a March 22, 2013, publication, it stated, “If animal rights groups are successful, law abiding sporting dog and hobby breeders would be subject to the costly rules and regulations from both the federal government and at the state level.” 

The Alliance believes this is an approach by anti-hunting groups to make it difficult and next-to-impossible for breeders to offer sporting dogs. 

If you want to take action, contact your congressmen and senators about your concerns with H.R. 847 and S. 395.  The USSA offers a Legislative Action Center to help you find your representatives’ and senators’ contact information.