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Pa. Senate Committee Combats Cruel Procedures at Puppy Mills

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauds members of the Pennsylvania Senate Agricultural Committee for unanimously passing legislation to prohibit some of the most painful and unsafe procedures commonly performed on dogs at large-scale puppy mills. The bill bans tail docking, debarking and surgical birth on dogs, unless performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian. The bill passed the House in February, and will soon have a vote on the Senate floor.

H.B. 39, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-127, will eliminate cruel and inhumane surgical practices at mass dog producing facilities known as puppy mills. Many Pennsylvania puppy mill operators currently forgo veterinary treatment and perform debarking (cutting or scarring a dog's vocal cords), tail docking and other surgeries themselves, often without the use of anesthesia. The new legislation will require that these procedures be performed under anesthesia by a licensed veterinarian, ensuring that they are performed humanely.

"We thank Pennsylvania lawmakers for striving to protect man's best friend from cruelty," said Sarah Speed, The HSUS' Pennsylvania state director. "Tail docking, ear cropping and debarking are unnecessary procedures to begin with, but performing them without anesthesia is very painful and inhumane."

Last year, Pa. legislators passed H.B. 2525, which provided basic protections for dogs in puppy mills. The bill doubled minimum cage sizes, banned wire flooring in cages for dogs more than 12 weeks old, and banned the stacking of cages. It also required that dogs have unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area twice the size of their primary enclosure, and that they receive veterinary exams twice a year.  

Puppy Mill Facts

  • There are more than 1,500 puppy mills in Pennsylvania alone.
  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life.
  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are typically confined for years on end, without ever becoming part of a family.
  • There is little regard for the breeding dog's health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.
  • Dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health, genetic history or future welfare. Consumers should never buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site; instead visit an animal shelter or screen a breeder's facility in person.
  • Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia passed laws in 2008 to crack down on puppy mills.
  • State legislatures in Washington state, Indiana and Oregon passed laws this year to crack down on puppy mills, and bills are still pending in 11 states, including Pennsylvania.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.


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 The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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