India has seen a boom in pet ownership in recent years, and there has been a corresponding increase in the number of pet stores doing brisk business by selling puppies. Unfortunately, the boom comes with a downside for the animals caught up in this trade. Puppies sold in pet stores in India often come from puppy mills, facilities that breed dogs indiscriminately and without providing basic needs like food, water, shelter and veterinary care. Unweaned puppies less than two months old are sold to consumers without any registration or records.

This week, the Indian government took a strong stand against such neglect by mandating new regulations for pet stores.

Under the new rules, every pet store will have to be registered by the animal welfare board of the state in which it does business. The rules provide standards for accommodation, infrastructure, housing, general care and veterinary care of the animals at pet stores. Among the requirements, pet stores cannot use wire mesh for the floors of enclosures, and every registered pet store will need to be inspected by an authorized veterinarian. The store will need a health certificate from a veterinarian for every animal and a written exercise plan for every pup more than 16 weeks old.

Pet stores will also be required to maintain records on breeders from which they source the puppies, and sales information on the consumers who buy the animals. Stores that do not meet the requirements can be closed down or see their animals seized. Under the new rules, animals found to be ill-treated or sick will be confiscated and sent to an animal welfare organization for treatment, with the pet store owner responsible for any costs of caring and treatment for the animal.

HSI/India and our partner, People for Animals, have been working for a long time to secure stronger regulations for the growing pet industry in the country. Last year, India cracked down on facilities that breed dogs indiscriminately, and without meeting animals’ basic needs. But India is a huge country, the world’s second most populous nation, and it needs laws at every level to ensure that there are no loopholes. In recent months, HSI/India participated in the rescue of dogs from small illegal breeders, rescuing four Labradors in one case and three Great Danes in another. Together, the regulations for breeders and pet stores will make it harder for puppy mills and backyard breeders like these to do business, and spare tens of thousands of animals from suffering, neglect and abuse.

We have seen some positive developments for companion animals in the United States this week too, with the House of Representatives taking a decisive stand against the dog and cat meat trade. Let’s take a moment today to celebrate both of these important victories. I’d especially like to commend the Indian government for acting so decisively to ensure the well-being of pets, and our staff at HSI/India for keeping up their noble fight for all animals.