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WISCONSIN PUPPY MILL PROJECT

Existing WI "Crimes Against Animals" Statutes

Updated 19 September 2012
(Click on any photo for a larger view & caption)
Mama Corgi and pups in cage barely big enough for her to turn around in.

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 pawprint bullet point   2009 Wisconsin Act 90   pawprint bullet point   Wisconsin Chapter 951   pawprint bullet point   USDA Animal Welfare Act   pawprint bullet point

 

These puppies were living in a wire mesh cage outside in the dead of winter.       2009 Wisconsin Act 90, the ground-breaking law regulating all commercial dog sellers in the state of Wisconsin, was unanimously passed by BOTH houses of the state legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Doyle on 1 December 2009.

       Before that, however, many people in Wisconsin, including too many of our lawmakers, felt that our existing state animal cruelty statutes, in conjunction with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), were sufficient to regulate pet breeding and selling facilities. Unfortunately, as we have shown in our 1999 Interview with a WI "Puppy Farmer", there were many vagueries, loopholes, and difficulties in enforcement that allowed this type of "institutionalized cruelty" to continue.

       The photo at left, of small puppies living outside with snow visible on the roof of their cage and on the ground through the wire mesh under their feet, was taken at the same "puppy farm" in February of 2008, 8-1/2 years after the WTMJ expose. This miller stayed in business through countless customer complaints and law enforcement investigations, because he (a) sells directly to the public and is thus exempt from federal regulation and (b) is still within the "letter of the law" by Wisconsin statutes!

       NOTE: if you do not live in Wisconsin and want to know what the humane laws are in your state, you can look up this information on the ASPCA State Animal Cruelty Law Summaries page.

 
 

Tiny blue paw print bullet point   Wisconsin Statutes: Crimes Against Animals

       Please take a moment to download and read "Chapter 951: Crimes Against Animals". (This is a pdf document, so you will need the Acrobat Reader to read it, but the reader is a free download from the link below.) As you read, you will discover:

 Red means beware     

Briefly, Chapter 951 states that "no person may treat any animal...in a cruel manner." What constitutes "cruel" is not specified.

   

 Red means beware     

Later sections state that "adequate" or "sufficient" food, water, shelter, space, and "sanitation" shall be provided. However, there is no specific definition of "adequate" or "sufficient."

       All of these sections are open to interpretation, making enforcement difficult, if not impossible — frustrating citizens and law enforcement investigators alike. The existing statutes are why millers like the one profiled in Interview with a WI "Puppy Farmer" and the 2008 photo above could not have been put out of business. By the existing statutes at the time, they weren't breaking any laws!

 pawprint bullet point   "Chapter 951: Crimes Against Animals"   pawprint bullet point   Acrobat Reader   pawprint bullet point

Puppies starved for human contact vie for attention. They are living on open wire mesh in the snow while the miller wears a heavy coat, hat, and gloves.       This does not mean that it was impossible to secure a conviction within the current laws. It just means that investigations had to be thorough, painstaking, and well-documented. Unfortunately, in many cases, it also meant that animals had to be gravely injured, deathly ill, or already past help for the abuser to be successfully prosecuted. (Please see our Reporting Animal Cruelty page for more information.)

       Currently in Wisconsin, there are over 150 certified Humane Officers who are conversant with both the law and what needs to be done to enforce and prosecute. If you see neglect or abuse, please check to see if there is a Humane Officer in your area!

       If you suspect that a breeder is in violation of 2009 Wisconsin Act 90, you can file a complaint with the WI Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Click here for more information.

       If you do not live in Wisconsin and want to know what the humane laws are in your state, you can look up this information on the ASPCA State Animal Cruelty Law Summaries page.

 

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Tiny blue paw print bullet point   USDA Regulation: The Animal Welfare Act

     NOTE: On 10 September 2013, the USDA announced a revised and updated definition of “retail pet store” under the Animal Welfare Act to help ensure the health and humane treatment of pet animals sold sight unseen via phone, internet, and mail! For more informaiton, please click here and read "USDA Restores Important Check and Balance on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health, Humane Treatment"

This is Tag 19, who not only wore her number on a rusty chain around her neck for about 10 years, but also had cattle tags punched through both of her ears.       "APHIS [US Dept. of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals. APHIS implements those standards and achieves compliance through inspection, education, and cooperative efforts." (APHIS Animal Welfare "home" page)

       The "Animal Welfare Act, United States Code Title 7 -- Agriculture Chapter 54 -- Transportation, Sale, and Handling of Certain Animals" spells out the regulations covering the breeding, selling, and transportation of pet animals. Sec. 2131 is the Congressional statement of policy:

        The Congress finds that animals and activities which are regulated under this chapter are either in interstate or foreign commerce or substantially affect such commerce or the free flow thereof, and that regulation of animals and activities as provided in this chapter is necessary to prevent and eliminate burdens upon such commerce and to effectively regulate such commerce, in order--

(1) to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities or for exhibition purposes or for use as pets are provided humane care and treatment;

(2) to assure the humane treatment of animals during transportation in commerce; and

(3) to protect the owners of animals from the theft of their animals by preventing the sale or use of animals which have been stolen.

       The Congress further finds that it is essential to regulate, as provided in this chapter, the transportation, purchase, sale, housing, care, handling, and treatment of animals by carriers or by persons or organizations engaged in using them for research or experimental purposes or for exhibition purposes or holding them for sale as pets or for any such purpose or use.

        You can find out more about the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) on the AWA section of the US Dept. of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website, including a breakdown of the Animal Welfare Act in its entirety. Briefly, however:

 Red means beware     

The AWA licenses and oversees facilities in the United States which deal in animals for commerce. AWA categories for licensees include Carriers, Dealers, Exhibitors, Federal Research Facilities, Handlers, Research Facilities (other than federal), and VA Hospitals, as well as pet breeders. As for those pet breeders — only those who sell pets wholesale (to pet stores, research facilities, etc.) are covered — once again bypassing our friend the puppy miller mentioned above and any others who only sell retail, directly to customers through ads in newspapers, classified papers, etc.

   

 Red means beware     

The AWA does have specific rules and regulations for the minimum requirements, and they do try to enforce them. However, there are just over 100 inspectors nationwide, tasked with overseeing about 10,000 facilities!

 pawprint bullet point   USDA Animal Welfare Regulations   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Class A Breeder AWA Licensed and Registered Facilities   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Class B Dealer AWA Licensed and Registered Facilities   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   USDA/AWA Inspection Reports   pawprint bullet point

Please note: the Class A, & Class B lists are now several years old -- it appears that the USDA is no longer posting this informaiton on their website, but you can file a Freedom of Information Act request to check on specific breeders.

   

       By the way, the dog whose photo is at the beginning of this section came from a USDA-licensed "breeding facility." For her story, and more about USDA "Identification of Animals" regulations, please see: Little Tag 19

 

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 pawprint bullet point   "Chapter 951: Crimes Against Animals" (pdf)   pawprint bullet point   USDA/APHIS Animal Welfare Act "home" page   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Reporting Animal Cruelty   pawprint bullet point   WI Certified Humane Officers   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   State Animal Cruelty Law Summaries    pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Little Tag 19 and the USDA Identification of Animals Regulations   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   USDA/AWA Inspection Reports   pawprint bullet point

 
 
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