Press Release

U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Charlie Crist Introduce WOOF Act to Protect Dogs

Washington, D.C. — Today U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) introduced legislation to crack down on cruel “puppy mills” — large commercial dog breeding operations that breed large volumes of puppies to sell at pet stores and over the internet.

The WOOF Act would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from licensing a dog dealer whose previous licenses have been suspended or revoked in the last 10 years. Further, it would prevent USDA from issuing or renewing a license to a dog dealer’s immediate family members, a person who resides at the dog dealer’s address, or legal entities where the dealer holds an ownership interest — which would close gaping loopholes that currently allow puppy mills with violations to keep operating.

Over 100,000 mother dogs are forced to suffer in puppy mills where they are forced to spend their entire lives in barren cages without ever touching a blade of grass. Horrific, painful injuries are commonplace and frequently go untreated. Puppies often become sick due to the unsanitary conditions of mills and long-distance transport to pet stores where they are sold to unsuspecting customers. Current laws barely meet survival standards and loopholes allow violators to continue renewing their license.

“It’s crucial we stand up for animals — both as individuals and as a society. That means strengthening important regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to meet this goal,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”

“Proud to join with Rep. Fitzpatrick again on the bipartisan WOOF Act, closing existing loopholes to better protect puppies and dogs from abuse,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. “We must care for all of God’s creatures, working together to promote animal welfare.”

“Under current law, USDA licensed puppy mills can keep dogs in small cages for their entire lives, deny them the opportunity for basic exercise, and even kill mother dogs when they no longer produce large litters,” said Holly Gann, Director of Federal Affairs. “Surely any puppy mill that fails to meet these anemic animal welfare standards should be denied renewal of their license.”

The WOOF Act is the latest in a trend of local, state, and federal legislation to root out puppy mills. Nearly 300 localities have adopted legislation to prevent pet stores from selling puppies that come from puppy mills, and California and Maryland have adopted similar state legislation, with many more to follow.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.