THE BLOG

Puppy Mill Horror Uncovered in Mississippi

05/22/2013 03:41 pm ET | Updated Jul 22, 2013

Puppy mills, by definition,
come up short on animal welfare, taking moral and practical shortcuts in order
to churn out dogs for the pet trade - by confining animals indefinitely,
breeding them every heat cycle, and denying them proper veterinary
care. But the conditions our rescue team witnessed at a raid
in Mississippi
on Monday were nothing short of appalling. It
was, in a word, a nightmare for the animals.

Mississippi puppy mill raid

Chuck Cook/The HSUS

When our
staff arrived on the scene with the Walthall County Sheriff's Office, they
found live dogs sharing cages with the bodies of dead
ones. Surviving dogs suffered
from terrible injuries, including one dog with a severed leg. Blankets of feces
covered the bottoms of the cages, and scattered throughout the property were
the skeletal remains of many dogs for whom help arrived too late.

We were
able to pull 104 dogs out of that hellhole. They have been safely transported
to the Humane Society of South Mississippi where they are being treated by a
team of veterinarians and other animal care professionals. Those nursed back to health will be screened for
adoption so they can enjoy new, better lives.

Over the past five years, we've partnered with law
enforcement to help close down dozens of mills. Nearly all of them were selling
puppies online. This sales strategy requires no federal license, and in
Mississippi and other states with no rules governing mills, commercial breeders
who sell puppies online are subject to no oversight whatsoever.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture only inspects dog
breeders that sell to pet stores, but it is currently in the process of making
final a rule change
 that would require large-scale breeding facilities
that sell puppies online to be federally licensed and inspected as well. If the
USDA could inspect all large-scale commercial breeders, regardless of their means
of commerce, it would be in a position to prevent a house of horrors like the
one we witnessed in Mississippi.

Additionally, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and David Vitter,
R-La., along with Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla.,
and Lois Capps, D-Calif., reintroduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety
Act, S. 395/ H.R. 847, which would require direct sellers of 50 or more puppies
to be federally licensed and inspected for basic humane standards of care. The
PUPS Act would also require that licensed facilities let dogs out of their
cages for at least an hour a day.

This Mississippi case reminds us of what's at stake, and why
it's so critical that we adopt this policy.

This post originally appeared on Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.