Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Internet Pet Sellers: Humane Groups Cave In


The newest victory for the Humane Society of the United States—isn’t.

Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail distributed this month from HSUS president & CEO Wayne Pacelle,  announcing it.

Dear Friend,

I have a huge victory to share with you! After years of pressure from The HSUS, and hundreds of thousands of emails and support from advocates like you, online puppy mills will finally be subject to federal inspections and oversight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans today to ensure that large-scale breeding facilities that sell puppies over the Internet, by phone, or by mail are licensed and inspected regularly for basic humane care standards. This rule will also apply to large commercial breeders of other warm-blooded pets, such as kittens and small mammals.

We are so grateful for the actions of our advocates. When we stand together, we can make a tremendous difference for animals on a national level. 

This is what the codification of online mass pet retailing looks like. Pacelle called it “a long-held aspiration for The HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the Doris Day Animal League”–groups that prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general to review enforcement of the rules governing dog breeding and uncover “this glaring gap in the law that allowed Internet sellers to evade any federal oversight whatever.”

Pacelle thanked the Obama administration, the “strong bipartisan support in Congress for closing the ‘Internet loophole’ in the Animal Welfare Act regulations,” and the USDA, which will assign people to license (yes) and inspect the animal vendors.

The very same USDA, as Sunil Sharma observes, “whose ‘inspectors’ regularly visit factory farms and report nothing wrong.”

Local groups are constantly subject to the hydraulic pull of such perverse national campaigns. Last July, the Toledo Area Humane Society joined in, endorsing the proposed redefinition of “retail pet store” so that high-volume dog dealers and online puppy sellers are licensed under the Animal Welfare Act. Pacelle gathered support for the codification project with one of the most tired old chants: “Puppy mills aren’t going away overnight…”Of course they aren’t, if the world’s most influential humane-treatment group makes a campaign out of codifying them.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals weighed in as well—“optimistic the rule change will strike a balance by excluding hobby breeders and targeting inhumane breeding facilities.”  In reality, the Animal Welfare Act has long shielded animal dealers, exhibitors, and experimenters by barring the public from charging them with cruelty under state laws or otherwise challenging them.

A new regulation can spawn countless investigation and policing needs. And so it goes: the exploitation of animals, continually hardened into the system of administrative law and custom, accompanied by still more jobs in the humane-treatment sector–an industry upon an industry; administration upon administration.

Instead of going along with this and telling the federal government we “support stronger oversight of Internet puppy mills” we should be appalled that they haven’t chased online pet vendors out of our sight, and that animal advocates haven’t demanded that.

Lee Hall is a candidate for Vermont Law School’s LL.M. in environmental law (2014). Previously, Lee taught animal law and immigration law, and worked for more than a decade in environmental and animal advocacy. Follow Lee on Twitter:  @Animal_Law

Lee Hall, J.D., LL.M., is a hard-working adjunct professor with teaching experience at both private and public universities, who also works hard at a retail job for basic sustenance and health insurance.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017