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September 21, 2012

Court Says Commercial Dog Breeders’ Records Must Be Disclosed to The Humane Society of the United States

A federal court in Washington, D.C. has ordered that financial and other data submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the federal Animal Welfare Act must be released to The Humane Society of the United States under the Freedom of Information Act. 

In the 23-page ruling, the court rejected arguments by the Hunte Corporation, one of the largest brokers of puppies in the country, and by the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, a vocal opponent of regulation to crack down on inhumane puppy mills in Missouri.

Beginning in 2009, The HSUS filed several requests for information for the license renewal applications that dog breeders and dealers are legally required to submit under the federal Animal Welfare Act. The USDA initially withheld certain information, including the number of dogs bought and sold per year and gross revenues derived from regulated activities. In late 2010, The HSUS sued the agency, which then reconsidered its decision, and decided to release the materials in question. Then, in April of last year, Hunte and the Missouri pet breeders sued USDA to block release of the documents.

“The Humane Society of the United States is pleased the court has endorsed USDA’s decision to improve transparency and accountability under the Animal Welfare Act,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Protection Litigation section. “This lawsuit was a cynical attempt by the commercial dog breeding industry to hide their operations from the public, and to keep consumers in the dark about the true costs of buying a puppy mill dog.”

The matter is captioned Carolyn Jurewicz, et al., v. United States Department of Agriculture & The Humane Society of the United States and was decided by Judge James E. Boasberg.

The HSUS works to educate consumers about the origin of puppies sold in pet stores, many of which are brokered by Hunte and Midwest commercial dog breeders. People who want a dog are encouraged to consider adoption from a shelter or rescue, or to buy only from a responsible breeder whom they have met in person. By taking the time to find a healthy puppy from a reputable source, families can avoid the heartache of purchasing a sick or dying puppy and from contributing to the cycle of abuse at puppy mills.

Media Contact: Rebecca Basu: 240-753-4875, rbasu@humanesociety.org

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