02/28/2013 02:25 pm ET

PUPS Act, Bill To Crack Down On Online Dog Breeders, Introduced By Bipartisan Group Of Senators

There's nothing like a little puppy love to muster some bipartisan will in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and David Vitter (R-La.) introduced the "Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act" -- conveniently abbreviated as the "PUPS Act" -- which seeks to close an Animal Welfare Act loophole that has allowed large-scale online puppy breeders to skirt regulations and safety inspections. The measure also has a bipartisan group of sponsors in the House.

"The media regularly reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities -- where dogs are housed in stacked wire cages and seriously ill and injured dogs are routinely denied access to veterinary care," Durbin said in a press release. "Online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases. This bipartisan bill requires breeders who sell more than 50 dogs a year directly to the public to obtain a license from the USDA and ensures that the dogs receive proper care."

The bill also outlines requirements for daily puppy exercise.

Vitter addressed reports that have found instances of mistreatment among online dog breeders and, in 2012, led to USDA to call for the closure of the loophole at issue in the PUPS Act.

"I was alarmed by the USDA [Inspector General] report that exposed inhumane treatment of dogs, especially abusive breeding practices," Vitter said. "I applaud USDA's work to close loopholes that unscrupulous breeders exploited with Internet sales, and the PUPS Act introduced by Senator Durbin and me will help ensure that puppies are treated humanely and bred in safe and sanitary facilities and that consumers can purchase healthy pets for their families."

Durbin and Vitter introduced a similar version of the bill in the last Congress, but it failed to advance through committee.



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