By Kate Good
Oh man, this news deserves a huge chorus of “You’ve got to be kidding me!” everyone together now! Great job. We’ve heard some pretty crazy news about decisions made by people in power that negatively impact animals, but this one deserves a serious facepalm. Really, it was a bit difficult to write this post only using one hand because the other just stuck in that position.
The USDA has just appointed Julian Prager, a very outspoken, anti-animal-welfare advocate to a position that makes crucial decisions regarding puppy mill regulations and enforcement. Prager has been an official at the American Kennel Club and National Animal Interest Alliance, two groups which are known for lobbying against all forms of breeder regulations, especially pertaining to measures aimed at curbing puppy mills. Prager has also openly opposed the USDA’s own regulations on retail pet stores and even state regulation that prevent puppy mill operators from performing their own C-sections or de-barking their dogs.
All this comes right as the push for anti-puppy mill legislation was just beginning to pick up momentum with the Obama Administration giving the USDA regulatory power of nearly 2,000 online pet retailers. While this move was aimed to curb the flagrant sale of animals raised in terrible conditions, it appears that the new head of this department will do little to ensure the protection of millions of animals suffering in mills.
Puppy mills are notorious for overbreeding dogs to produce “desirable” puppies for sale, forcing dogs used for breeding to live in small cages with little to no veterinary care, no access to grass, and barely enough food or water to survive. The proliferation of these facilities is unacceptable and regulations to curb the spread of puppy mills are long overdue.
The Humane Society of the United States has written a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging him to reconsider the appointment of Prager. You can take personal action by choosing to adopt an pet, rather than shopping for one and supporting puppy mills. Click here for more information on puppy mills and learn what you can do to lend your voice to the dogs suffering in mills across the U.S.