Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Ranking Member Sam Farr (D-CA) announced today that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has reached agreement on the means to fund enforcement of problematic dog dealers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Congressmen Kingston and Farr worked with USDA to ensure that the Agency could simultaneously support funding to protect American agriculture from the most critical threats while also ensuring that USDA increased its support for the similarly important responsibilities associated with the Animal Welfare Act.
"The Inspector General confirmed evidence of a growing problem with large-scale dog dealers or "puppy mills," said Chairman Kingston. "We have come together on a bipartisan basis to give the USDA the necessary resources for enforcement without sacrificing any other area of plant or animal health. This is a temporary fix and we look forward to working with the USDA to establish a more structured and dedicated source of funding for this program."
"For too long reckless dog breeders have taken advantage of a lack of proper oversight to increase their profits at the expense of the health of thousands of dogs," said Ranking Member Farr. "Protecting the health and safety of young dogs has been a passion I have carried from my days in the California Legislature to the halls of Congress. It has been a long and hard effort to extend these protections to our most vulnerable pets. These funds will finally allow the USDA to properly enforce violations, shut down puppy mills, and prevent future abuses of dogs and unsuspecting consumers."
In May 2010, USDA's Office of Inspector General released a report critical of the USDA's regulation of dog dealers and found deficiencies in the program's efforts to bring problem dealers into compliance with animal welfare regulations. A little over a year ago, USDA began to develop an animal welfare program that reinforced its efforts under their animal welfare responsibilities. In this current fiscal year, the Department began working with Congress to seek sufficient funding for the plan.