In response to Jeff Morton, Shake A Paw Letter to the Editor, I would like to set the record straight with facts and documentation. Despite what Mr. Morton would have you believe, the United States Department of Agriculture is by no means a standard of excellence.

 In May of 2010 the Office of the Inspector General released the shocking results of its audit titled Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care Program, Problematic Dealers.

Severe inadequacy of APHIS to enforce the Animal Welfare Act for commercial dog breeders were found. Due to the findings in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG ) report APHIS committed to make major changes in its policy to address the problems highlighted in the audit. May 2018 the new APHIS inspector guide clearly reverses all changes that were made. There is no longer any public accountability. APHIS has relaxed inspection and enforcement for commercial dog breeders. The new policy eliminates requirements for a program of veterinary care approved and signed by a licensed veterinarian. Violations for dogs with nail, dental, and injuries to eyes will no longer be documented. The USDA totally removed an entire chapter on identifying suffering animals, chronic issues and reduced the criteria when an animal should be confiscated. These changes along with others are unacceptable for the humane treatment of animals under the Animal Welfare Act.

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In February 2017 the United States Department of Agriculture ceased posting online Animal care Inspection reports. Freedom of Information requests for breeders are completely blacked out.

I see this as the USDA has engaging in a cover-up of conditions at puppy mills in order to present a false narrative to the public about the dog breeding industry and allow these breeders to continue to profit rather than put the health and safety of dogs and cats first.

Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) has for decades investigated pet store and puppy mills. CAPS investigations in fact has assisted in the prosecution and closure of a number of puppy mills, most noted Kathy Bauck, Puppies on Wheels.

In 2019 CAPS completed a documentary undercover investigation of all New York State pet stores that sell companion animals and the breeding mills they source from.

The documentary highlights pet stores providing misleading information to consumers. It also allows the public to see the conditions USDA licensed breeders keep dogs in.

The facts and documentation cannot be disputed.

Federal, and local oversight has failed to protect consumers and dogs and cats used by pet stores as a supply source.

Statewide Pet Store Ordinances protect animals from cruel breeders who put profits over animal welfare, and consumers from unknowingly supporting inhumane breeders.

Barbara Dennihy

New York State Director Companion Animal Protection Society