Paws behind bars logo of the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, Inc.


USDA ID Tag Necklace:
Jewelry That Educates

Maria Hope, Little Tag 19, wearing her puppy mill ID
Click on photo for caption and story

What Is A Puppy Mill?   *   What Can I Do About It?   *   Laws/Legislation   *   ACTION ALERTS!

Tag made from puppy mill USDA identification tags.


       Back in January 2013, the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project received an email from a Schnauzer rescuer named Mendi, with what may, at first glance, seem like an odd request:

       "Hello, I am a proud owner of a "Tag 19" t-shirt that, over the years, has become overly worn. I am looking to acquire a used USDA tag from a rescued mill dog. Why?... you ask? I want to wear it as a necklace/ conversation piece to help educate people about puppy mills. My best friend has two mill rescues and she uses the tags in this manner. Although all of my pets are rescues, none of them are mill releases. Please let me know if there is a way to help me get this message across with a tag of my own."

       Knowing the story behind that "Tag 19" tee shirt, we thought Mendi's idea was an excellent one! See, that's "Little Tag 19," aka Mariah Hope, in the small photo at the top of the page. Mariah Hope was a puppy mill breeder dog for the first 10 years of her life. Look a little closer at the photo -- Mariah's "jewelry" was a necklace of rusted chain with her mill ID number on it and "earrings" which were metal cattle tags punched through her ears! (Read Mariah Hope's story here). Mariah's legacy was that we all try to educate the public to the horrors of puppy mills and help give the dogs their freedom.

       So, through a little bit of "networking," WPMP and some mill rescuers were able to help Mendi create a striking piece of jewelry.

       The numbers on the small metal tag of Mendi's necklace identify the breeder and the dog -- the large number in the center was likely assigned to a specific dog, with records kept of its breed, gender, birth date, etc. The number on top, 31-B-0136, designated the state (31 - Ohio), the type of license (Class B, licensed to breed and also resell animals), and the certificate number (0136). The large yellow plastic tag was likely on a chain around the dog's neck.

       Nobody can call Mendi's creation "beautiful" in the usual sense, but she says as intended, the necklace has started several conversations: "I have a coworker who is dead set against adopting and thinks I'm a nut ball for altering my personal wants to help animals. Even she was appalled at the conditions these dogs live in. (She googled it after seeing the necklace) The biggest reactions seem to be the astonishment at the USDA's involvement in puppy milling!"

       NOTE: Please see below for more information on the USDA's rules for identifying animals. For more on the USDA/APHIS Animal Welfare Act, which sets down the rules and standards of care for commercial dog breeders who sell wholesale to brokers or pet stores, please click here. (Note: Wisconsin is one of the few states with dog sellers' regulations that apply to ALL dog sellers, including internet and other "direct sales." For more about Wisconson 2009 Act 90, please click here.)


Mariah Hope's neck tag and the tool that was used to insert the metal cattle tags in her ears.

Note:  USDA Animal Welfare Reguations, Subpart E: Identification of Animals, Sec.2.50, state in part that:

All live dogs...shall be identified by an official tag of the type described in Sec. 2.52 affixed to the animal's neck by means of a collar made of material generally considered aceptable to pet owners...or shall be identified by a distinctive and legible tattoo marking acceptable to and approved by the Administrator.

/2/...The use of certain types of chains presently used by some [Class A Licencees] may also be deemed acceptable...on an individual basis.... The use of materials such as wire, elastic, or sharp metal that might cause discomfort or injury to the dogs ... is not acceptable.

Sec. 2.51 describes the Form of official tag:

The official tag shall be made of a durable alloy such as brass, bronze, or steel, or of a durable plastic. Aluminum of a sufficient thickness to assure the tag is durable and legible may also be used. The tag shall be one of the following shapes:

(1) Circular in shape and not less than 1\1/4\ inches in diameter, or

(2) Oblong and flat in shape, not less than 2 inches by \3/4\ inch and riveted to an acceptable collar.

(b) Each tag shall have the following information embossed or stamped on so that it is easily readable:

(1) The letters ``USDA'';

(2) Numbers identifying the State and dealer, exhibitor, or research facility (e.g., 39-AB); and

(3) Numbers identifying the animal (e.g., 82488).

(c) Official tags shall be serially numbered. No individual dealer or exhibitor shall use any identification tag number more than once within a 5-year period.

 pawprint bullet point   USDA Animal Welfare Reguations    pawprint bullet point   USDA/APHIS Animal Welfare "home" page   pawprint bullet point

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P.O. Box 926    *    Sheboygan, WI 53082-0926   *

Tag 19 Photo Copyright © JB's Legacy. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Necklace Photo Copyright © 2013, Mendi. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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