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Why the US Senate is discussing puppies

As pet adoptions rise during the pandemic, a dozen Democrats in the US Senate are pushing for stricter oversight of illegal breeders

Some lawmakers in the US Senate are pushing for stricter oversight of puppy mills amid a pandemic-fueled increase in pet adoptions (Unsplash)

Democrats in the US Senate are pushing to have a Puppy Protection Act passed in the US Senate for stricter oversight of puppy mills amid a pandemic-fueled increase in pet adoptions, reports Bloomberg.

Also read: How puppies helped Indians get through the pandemic

The lawmakers are calling for bigger cages and mandated exercise and socialization for dogs that are in the care of breeders. The Act would also require screenings by vets before breeding. A dozen Democrats have backed the bill.

Puppy mills are a term for breeding centres that do not follow rules and keep dogs solely to breed and sell. Dogs are often kept in small cages, stacked on top of one another, and get no exercise or socialisation. The US has about 10,000 puppy mills with over 200,000 dogs that produce about 13 million puppies a year, the Humane Society estimates. India too has illegal breeding centres such as these. There are few estimates of the number of such centres, though the dog breeding rules clearly set out regulation for breeders.

Also read: A verified list of pet boarding services during the pandemic

“As many Americans welcomed a dog into their family during the pandemic, we must ensure that the demand for pets is met with a commitment from breeders to raise dogs in humane conditions before they find their forever home,” said Dick Durbin of Illinois, the lawmaker leading the bill in the US Senate, in a statement. A companion measure was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this week.

In India too, the demand for pets has increased during the past year as people isolating at home reach out for comfort and companionship. Pet food sales grew 20% in 2020, PTI reported early this year, on the back of the surge in pet adoption as people spend more time at home. Puppy adoption rates rose about 50% and cat adoption by 40%, representatives from shelter homes estimate. More young people, too, are choosing to adopt pets, they observe.

“Pandemic puppies” as they are known are often rescue dogs or indies taken in from the street but breeders who sell pedigreed pups have also reported a steady rise in business. With more families wanting to bring a pet home, animal activists are concerned about illegal breeders flouting animal welfare rules relating to dog breeding to make a quick buck. The high demand for pets has led to an increase in prices of pedigreed puppies, and has encouraged illegal breeders to scale up. Activists encourage potential pet parents to adopt Indian dogs instead.

In the US, pet care comes up periodically in Congress, and regulators in 2014 implemented rules about online puppy sales based on legislation that Durbin introduced, reports Bloomberg.

Also read: Here's how you can adopt a pet virtually

    28.04.2021 | 02:28 PM IST

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