WAND 17

(WAND) - Legislation looking to protect puppies and regulate breeders is set to be introduced by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Durbin's office sent out a press release detailing what will be called the Puppy Protection Act. His goal is to set higher veterinary care, housing and breeding standards for dogs in the United States.

His release said the bill will seek to create the following rules:

  • Caging and space requirements: Expand enclosure requirements to allow dogs to stand on their hind legs without touching the top of their enclosure and increase the number of square feet of their enclosure based on the dog’s size. Enclosures may not be stacked on top of one another.
  • Exercise: Offer dogs over the age of 12 weeks unrestricted access from their primary enclosures to a ground-level, enclosed outdoor exercise area.
  • Socialization: Set a 30 minute requirement per day for dogs to socialize with humans and compatible dogs outside of the time spent in veterinary care.
  • Breeding: Require a screening by a veterinarian prior to each attempt to breed and prohibit breeding of two litters in any 18-month period or more than six litters in a dog’s lifetime. Breeders must also find a humane placement for retired breeding dogs, such as with adoptive families or rescue organizations.

“We must ensure that every breeder is raising dogs in decent, humane conditions and that these dogs receive the proper veterinary care,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to lead this effort in protecting the welfare of animals when breeders have escaped proper oversight and inspection in the past. The Puppy Protection Act is a step forward in ensuring that these breeding dogs and their puppies live a healthy life.”

“Puppy mills that sell to pet stores and sight unseen over the Internet are a true scourge, forcing puppies and breeding dogs to suffer in deplorable conditions in facilities across the country, said Humane Society Legislative Fund President Sara Amundson. "Now, thanks to Senator Durbin, the U.S. Senate will have its first opportunity to consider and pass the Puppy Protection Act to curtail the miseries suffered by so many dogs trapped in large scale commercial breeding operations. We need bright line standards for housing, exercise, breeding practices, and socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs.”

Durbin had introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act) in 2013. That bill looked to make sure breeders who sell over 50 dogs each year are licensed and go through inspections to make sure dogs are getting proper care. His office said the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a rule based on the PUPS Act in 2014 that closed a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act, which let domestic puppy mills sell puppies online with no proper regulation or inspections.

A companion bill to the Puppy Protection Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in the U.S. House.