USDA must stop issuing new licenses to puppy mills during coronavirus


USDA must stop issuing new licenses to puppy mills during coronavirus

12 May 2020
The USDA is responsible for licensing certain animal businesses, such as puppy mills and zoos, and enforcing federal animal welfare care standards.

Communities around the world are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19 and help those directly impacted by the virus. Policymakers are quickly issuing new orders and guidance aimed at keeping everyone safe—including our companion animals. But what about animals that are living in commercial facilities such as puppy mills, roadside zoos or laboratories?  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and overseeing commercial animal facilities such as puppy mills and zoos, recently announced plans to change its operating procedures related to inspections and licensing. The agency will not perform inspections where local or state orders allow only essential businesses and services to operate. The result: Most facilities in the country will be operating without oversight. 

Even as it discontinues most inspections, the agency has also decided to continue issuing new AWA licenses to commercial animal facilities. These policy changes threaten animal welfare and unfairly burden essential animal organizations already working overtime to strengthen safety nets for individuals and their pets during the unfolding economic crisis.