The Puppy Mill Sewer Is Beginning To Overflow

i June 4, 2010

Lately, more attention than ever before has been given to the immorality and criminality of puppy mills and the dereliction of duty by those charged with their oversight. Petland has been sued because of its complicity in the puppy mill outrage, in an effort to put the dog factory breeders out of business by choking off the retail end of the trade.

Also seeking the same result are municipal efforts to prohibit sales of companion animals. For example, pet sales have been banned in Albuquerque, NM and South Lake Tahoe, CA. Last February West Hollywood, CA did the same. Other cities throughout the United States are considering similar ordinances.

For years, ISAR has supported such bans–as ends in themselves (ending the local retail companion animal trade), and as a means to reduce the incentive for puppy mills to produce a seemingly endless flow of canines (by narrowing the market).

However, we’ve realized that while outright municipal bans are desirable as far as they go, they don’t go far enough because the retail sellers can easily relocate and go back into their dirty business elsewhere.

For that reason last year ISAR produced a comprehensive “Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales” which seeks to deal with the overpopulation of dogs caused in large measure by puppy mills. We urge our supporters to review ISAR’s model statute, as well as the extensive report in which it appears.

Here is the Introduction and Table of Contents:


A major defect in many animal protection statutes is that crucial terms are ill-defined, or not defined at all. This failure leads to ambiguity, avoidable litigation, lack of enforcement, and other problems undermining the goals the legislation was enacted to achieve.

Hence, for purposes of this Monograph and ISAR’s Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales (hereafter “Model Statute”), we use the following definitions:

  • “Commercial”: “relating to the buying or selling of goods, including dogs, or services, in return for a monetary or non-monetary benefit.”
  • “Retail”: “the selling of goods, including dogs, or services, directly to purchasers or consumers.”
  • “Sale”: “the transfer of property, including dogs, to the ownership of someone else.”
  • “Seller”: “any person or legal entity that makes a sale.”
  • “Outlet”: “the place where, or through the means of which, a retail sale occurs.”
  • “Purchaser”: “any person or legal entity that is the recipient of a sale.”
  • “Breeder”: “any person or legal entity which intentionally, recklessly or negligently causes or allows a living female dog to be inseminated by a male canine.”1
  • “Puppy mill”: “a place where at the same time at least three female dogs are kept whose sole or major purpose is producing puppies for sale.”2
  • “Facilitator”: “any person or legal entity, not a breeder, seller, sales outlet or purchaser, as defined herein, who acts as a broker, dealer, wholesaler, agent, bundler, middleman or in any similar role in the sale, purchase, trade, auction, or other transfer of the ownership, custody or control of dogs, whether or not such animals are in the custody or control of the facilitator at the time of transfer.”3

While ISAR’s Model Statute applies to all breeders, it contains certain provisions aimed specifically at the horrors of puppy mills because they are, by far, the most inhumane kind of dog breeding that exists today in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Puppy mills, however, are only the first stage in the mass production and sale of dogs. Next come the facilitators, followed by the commercial retailers who sell to the public.

That public, however, has little or no idea just how immoral and inhumane are certain aspects of the business of commercially producing and selling puppies and adult dogs as if they were inanimate objects, no different from sausages.

Not only is the factory-like commercial production and sale of dogs by itself immoral and inhumane, the business is a leading cause of the nationwide canine overpopulation problem. That problem, in turn, has an adverse impact not only on the animals themselves, but also on society at large. Overpopulation of dogs has severe economic, social, political, financial, health, environmental and other consequences which are well-documented and not debatable.

Accordingly, by severely reducing the numbers of dogs produced by breeders, brokered by facilitators, and sold by commercial retailers, the related problems of immorality, inhumaneness and overpopulation could be dealt a serious blow.

Regrettably, however, even the most aggressive educational efforts by the animal protection movement have not been powerful enough to put sufficient pressure on breeders, facilitators and commercial retailers to reduce voluntarily their production and sales of dogs, let alone to drive them out of business altogether.

That said, however, there is a way in which production, trafficking and sale of dogs can be greatly reduced—a way in which puppy mill producers, facilitators and commercial retail sellers of dogs could virtually be put out of business.

How, then, to accomplish this worthy goal?

The short answer—which is developed at length in this Monograph—is through strict administrative regulation of breeders, facilitators and commercial retail sellers, coupled with harsh penalty and generous “standing to sue” provisions.



  1. Breeders:

Types of breeders.

Genesis of puppy mills.

“Life” in a puppy mill.

Puppy mills are a blight on civilized society.

The moral case against puppy mills.

Federal efforts to regulate puppy mills.

State efforts to regulate puppy mills.

The Petland case and the torturous road of litigation.

  1. Facilitators:

ISAR definition.

USDA definition.

Examples of facilitators.

  1. Retail sellers:


State laws.

  1. Constitutionality of regulating dog breeding and sales.
  2. ISAR’s Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales:

Animal Welfare Act

Preface to ISAR’s Model Statute.

ISAR’s Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales.


Part I. Definitions (annotated).

Part II. Breeders (annotated).

Part III. Facilitators (annotated).

Part IV. Commercial retail sales outlets (annotated).

Part V. Miscellaneous provisions (annotated).



ISAR’s Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales


Part I. Definitions (unannotated).

Part II. Breeders (unannotated).

Part III. Facilitators (unannotated).

Part IV. Commercial retail sales outlets (unannotated).

Part V. Miscellaneous provisions (unannotated).

* * *

As ISAR’s Study and Model Statute prove, the serious problem of puppy mills must be addressed across-the-board by targeting all three links in the production-middleman-sale chain of animal abuse. Our Model Statute does that, and it is our earnest hope that ISAR volunteers, other animal protection organizations and concerned individuals seek to have it introduced in their state legislatures.

The abomination of puppy mills must end!


1 This definition is deliberately broad because it intends to include all breeding—from family pets to the most egregious type, “puppy mills.”

2 A puppy mill has been defined by one court as “a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.” Avenson v. Zegart, 577 F. Supp. 958, 960 (D. Minn. 1984). While that description of a puppy mill accurately identifies one aspect of such an operation, it does not adequately invoke the horrors of puppy mills and is thus insufficient for the purposes of ISAR’s Model Statute.

3 The Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service (hereafter “APHIS”), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (hereafter “USDA”) groups “pet wholesalers” and “animal brokers” under the heading of “dealers.” Pet wholesalers are defined as “anyone importing, buying, selling, or trading pets in wholesale channels.” Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act, USDA, available at (last visited Sept. 20, 2009). Animal brokers are defined as “anyone who deals in regulated animals but does not take physical possession.” Id. Both pet wholesalers and animal brokers are required to be licensed by USDA. Id. The Humane Society of the United States (hereafter “HSUS”) defines brokers as those who purchase dogs from puppy mills and kennels and then resell them to retail pet stores. More on How Petland Continues to Support Cruel Puppy Mills, HSUS, Jun. 29, 2009, available at The term “facilitator” as used in ISAR’s Model Statute is intended to include all of the persons and legal entities described above.