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How many dog breeders are inspected by AKC or APHIS to verify compliance with the Animal Welfare Act which requires these minimal conditions…


August 1, 2023

Stella Starr, Pet Perspectives


You may only have one dog but if you love it, read this and share it with friends! APHIS stands for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that is supposed to cover all animals and everything we grow for food.



A dog friend was concerned about the conditions at a friend’s house. She said the USDA says all dog breeders must provide “adequate housing, sanitation, nutrition, water and veterinary care” and that dogs must be protected “from extreme weather and temperatures”. But she couldn’t find what triggers INSPECTIONS. She showed me where it says AKC or APHIS “oversees a total of 13,000 breeders, dealers, exhibitors, research facilities, transporters, and dog importers who are subject to the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).


As a cat owner I thought that sounded reasonable until I wondered how the registries can actually assure us that cats and dogs are really protected? AKC and CFA used to do home and facility inspections. I don’t think that happens now and I tried to look it up but couldn’t find it for her. Does that mean the thousands of home-based kitten and puppy mills AND so-called “private breeders” are never inspected? What are those registries doing for the animals they supposedly represent?


Stroking my lap cat, I thought about how much more self-sufficient they are as being never quite domesticated but I remember those photos of cats, dogs, minks, rabbits and chickens in raised up wire pens that were easier to access for the “breeder” who treated them worse than rodents!


That led me to reach for my cell phone to look up the Federal Animal Welfare Act {Ref #1}. In 2022 APHIS only had “8,000 employees stationed in 50 States, 4 Territories, and 35 countries.” The USDA states “Registered research facilities are inspected at least once per year, as required by the AWA.


Sure, how did the government manage that with so few employees? And what about the registries???


The American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers Association didn’t say, doesn’t know or don’t care (!) how many thousands of breeders are NOT complying with the federal legislation that mandates minimum standards of care. Does AKC and CFA still do on-site visits?


And what if the breeders just sell locally and don’t even register the litter? I wondered if there is what they call a cause or care reason why the animal isn’t registered?


I dug deeper. Google presents 1,020,000 returns for “AKC puppy mills”. Out of more than a million puppy mills, it looks like AKC conducted “10,595 site inspections (approximately 3,000 more than was conducted in 2021, including 1,248 unannounced at research facilities…” But do pictures lie?



It is also worth noting that mass-producing puppy mills are now referred to as “puppy farms.” That sounds soooo much better, like a vacation to the green countryside. The “farm” term sounds more like horse farms producing winners whereas a “mill” implies mass production. I think a mare only has one foal per year but a puppy mill dog can have 3 or 4 litters in a year!!


A cow or mare is usually re-bred on their next estrus cycle (nearly a year later) but in the world of puppy production a bitch might be bred 3 times in one year!!! Dogs are not livestock.


Horses, cattle, sheep and other “livestock” are not raised as pets. Some might argue that horses are pets but the difference is that they are grazing animals and to be psychologically healthy they must be outside where the grass is, not forced to live in a cage or small kennel.



I know horses are often stabled but anyone who knows and loves them will agree that any grass-eater would rather be running free. And so would any meat-eater!


Caring about the welfare of animals should be as natural as breathing. Hold your dog or cat close just for a moment. Think how lucky it is to be loved. Then try not to think what you can do for animals not so fortunate…


Reference Information: {1} Federal Animal Welfare Act – AKC Compliance EST 2002 © Aug 2023



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