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Should Congress force the USDA to do more to protect dogs?

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-26 09:45:49-05

WASHINGTON — Should the federal government take steps to increase its inspections of dog breeding facilities? Some major animal rights advocates say "yes," and are pushing Congress to change current laws.

THE ISSUE

While most dogs in the U.S. enjoy a great life thanks to their owners, not every dog is as lucky.

Activists believe the federal government should be doing more to protect animals, noting that records show an insufficient effort.

"For decades we have had this problem," Ingrid Seggerman said.

Seggerman is a lobbyist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The ASPCA and Seggerman want Congress to compel the Department of Agriculture, which inspects dog breeding facilities, to investigate and fine breeders more for violations.

"They basically have this program of inaction," Seggerman said.

"They are hardly ever issuing fines," she added.

Last year, there were 11 administrative actions by the agency involving breeders. While some fines were issued, others were just warnings.

The ASPCA doesn't believe the low number of violations is because dogs are being treated better in the country.

Seggerman believes more fines are needed to keep more dogs safe.

GOLDIE'S ACT

The Goldie's Act is named after a malnourished golden retriever in Iowa. It took 18 visits and six months for the owner of a facility to have their license suspended by the USDA.

The pup eventually had to be put down.

Goldie's Act would order the USDA to inspect more and impose stronger penalties.

A bipartisan coalition in Congress is expected to try and include it in this year's farm bill, legislation that happens every five years in our country and often makes policy changes at the USDA.

"It would make the USDA do its job," Seggerman said.

Scripps News reached out to the USDA for comment on the issue. The agency provided the following statement:

APHIS takes the welfare of animals very seriously.  Our investigative process for individuals and/or businesses found out of compliance with the Animal Welfare Act may lead to an enforcement action. If deficiencies remain uncorrected at subsequent inspections, APHIS considers legal action. Repeat non-compliances and serious incidents may warrant enforcement actions such as letters of warning, monetary penalties, license suspensions and revocations. Additional information on APHIS’ Investigative and Enforcement Process can be found here [aphis.usda.gov]