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Rescues and Shelters Spend Millions to Buy and Resell Breeder Dogs, Report Finds


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On April 11, The Washington Post exposed 86 rescue and shelter groups that spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs at breeder auctions and marketed these purchased dogs as “rescues” to the public.
The Post’s thorough report includes a host of photographs and extensive interviews with National Mill Dog Rescue, a licensed and inspected Missouri breeder and two auction owners. The picture created by the Post is that of dozens of non-profits—many of which heavily criticize pet stores and ethical breeders as bad actors—acting like businesses without any oversight or transparency. 

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and authorities in all 50 states to engage in proper oversight of everyone who is involved in pet care.

As described in our recent statement:

Federal and state laws regulate licensed and inspected commercial dog breeders. Pet stores are regulated by state authorities…[R]rescues and shelters engaging in business transactions should be treated the same way as licensed dealers who purchase dogs and then resell them. 

My op-ed at The Hill explains some of our policy prescriptions in detail. On the federal level, the USDA “should require all organizations that operate as pet dealers under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) be licensed as” pet dealers. This would do a great deal to ensure proper animal care and transparency prospective pet owners. 

A lot can also be done at the state level, for example:

Pet lovers should know health histories for each pet they consider bringing into their family—especially when it’s readily available.

To better protect against the spread of communicable diseases and to track the movement of animals into and across the country, intake and placement reports should be mandatory for all shelters and rescues—as is the case in states such as Connecticut, Maine and New York. Likewise, requirements already in place for pet stores—such as vaccinations and veterinary checks—should apply to rescues and shelters so that dog, cat, rabbit and other pet owners know they are getting a healthy pet. 

The American people deserve to know where they get their dogs, and they deserve to know how their dogs are treated before arriving at their home. As both a pet owner and the president of PIJAC, I’m grateful to the Post for its tremendous investigative work and the light it shined on these groups. It’s now lawmakers’ turn to do their part, and we at PIJAC are eager to provide our expertise. 


Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC members include retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists and other trade organizations.

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