• Some say new online puppy-selling regulations hurt reputable breeders

    By: Peter Daut


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Animal welfare groups are applauding a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to impose restrictions on breeders who sell dogs on the Internet.

    But not all dog lovers are happy about it.

    "I think that it's an invasion of privacy for most folks. I think the USDA is way overstepping their bounds," Angel Martin said.

    Martin trains therapy dogs, and occasionally breeds.

    Dog owners who breed more than four female dogs and sell puppies online will now be held to the same standard as large-scale wholesale breeders.

    The new requirements are in response to awful living and breeding conditions found at puppy mills across the nation.

    Martin agrees that puppy mills are a serious problem, but said the new rules are too broad and do harm to reputable breeders.

    "There's a lot of jobs that are going to be affected by this, and they need to not lump everybody into one category, because the way that this is written it does," Martin said.

    Most people who sell pets online can no longer do so sight-unseen.

    Sellers must allow buyers to see animals in person before they purchase them, or obtain a license and be subject to inspections.

    Animal protection groups are cheering the move.

    "So many Internet sellers, they put images of frolicking dogs in pastures. The reality is, because we've been behind scenes, they are confining animals in squalid, overcrowded conditions," said Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle.

    The USDA said the rules will affect more than 4,500 dog breeders and 320 cat breeders.

    But Martin and the American Kennel Club believe the regulations should focus on the number of dogs sold, not the number of dogs someone owns.

    The rule is expected to take effect in about 60 days.

    Criminal sanctions for breeders violating the law include one year in jail or a $2,500 fine.

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