The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made a move to cut down on puppy mills — foreign ones anyway.
The new measures aim to ensure puppies imported to the U.S. come from humane breeders.
KUSI: "The new regulations say that all puppies for import into the U.S. must be at least six months old and up to date on their vaccinations."
While the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes there's no legal definition for a puppy mill, the advocacy group says they're basically the dog equivalent of factory farms. The focus is more on money and producing as many puppies as possible, regardless of the welfare of the animals. (Video via WXYZ)
The USDA's move was met with praise from the president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle. "This is a major moment in our global effort to make trade more humane and to prevent a handful of nations from watering down animal welfare standards in the name of free trade"
An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times also approved, and asked that new rules apply to U.S. breeders as well. "[Puppy mills] are subject only to general animal welfare laws so minimal that even the USDA encourages breeders to exceed them, they can be clamped down on only by tightening rules."
That has been the sticking point for some on the government's approach to cracking down on puppy mills: critics say officials have taken too long.
In fact, in a report from 2010, the USDA itself admitted "the [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] was not aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against violators of [the Animal Welfare Act] and that it assessed minimal monetary penalties against them."
Puppy mill regulations are still largely determined on a state-by-state basis, and according to the ASPCA, 21 states still have no laws whatsoever regulating commercial dog breeders.
This video contains images from Getty Images