2009 Wisconsin Act
90 Wisconsin Chapter 951 USDA
Animal Welfare Act
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.
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
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!
if you do not live in Wisconsin and want to know what the humane laws
are in your state, call or visit your local police department or your local
shelter or animal control agency for assistance.
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:
951 states that "no person may treat any animal...in a cruel manner."
What constitutes "cruel" is not specified.
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!
"Chapter 951: Crimes Against
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.)
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!
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.
USDA Regulation: The Animal Welfare Act
Wisconsin and a few other states, when a petstore brags that it sells
"only dogs from licensed sources," it is very likely that the USDA is
the sole licensing agency. Yet articles in the Fall 2018 issue of The
Alliance Speaks, newsletter of the
Missouri Alliance for Animal
Legislation, contend that: "USDA believes that state and local
restrictions are seriously affecting the economic viability of the commercial
dog breeding industry. In response, USDA initiated steps to enhance the image
of puppy mills a few years ago by covering up violations of the AWA at puppy
mills. This past year, USDA has ramped up its efforts to conceal poor
conditions at puppy mills amid mounting concerns about the continuing bad
reputation of the industry."
Is the USDA
"turning a blind eye" to abuses and letting down the very animals the
Animal Welfare Act was created to protect? Read
UPDATE: On August 18, 2017,
the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the
rollout of the refined public search tool that provides access to Animal
Welfare Act compliance records. The public search tool is a component of the
Animal Care Information System (ACIS) and will allow APHIS to make animal
welfare information publicly available and ensure compliance with all
Click here for more information .
NOTE: On February 3, 2017, the
USDA announced that "As a result of the comprehensive review, APHIS has
implemented actions to remove certain personal information from documents it
posts on APHIS website involving the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the
Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Going forward, APHIS will remove from its website
inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual
reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.
APHIS will also review and redact, as necessary, the lists of licensees and
registrants under the Animal Welfare Act, as well as lists of designated
qualified persons (DQPs) licensed by USDA-certified horse industry
organizations." Click here for more information and some suggestions about what
you can do.
An Excel file list of all persons/ entities
licensed/ regulated under the AWA can still be downloaded from:
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)
"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:
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.
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:
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
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!
Center for Animal Welfare (CAW)
List of Active Licensees and Registrants under the AWA
Inspection and Annual Reports
The USDA is
constantly changing and evolving its regulations to keep up with the changing
face of pet retail. On September 10, 2013, they
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 background and
information, please read Internet-based Puppy Mills now Subject to USDA Regulation
and USDA Restores
Important Check and Balance on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health, Humane
Internet-based Puppy Mills now Subject to USDA
USDA Restores Important Check and Balance on Retail Pet Sales
to Ensure Health, Humane Treatment" (pdf)
On August 15, 2014,
the USDA announced a
revised and updated definition to help crack down on the import of puppies from
foreign puppy mills. In brief, the new rule requires that puppies be at least 6
months of age, have veterinary certificates from their country of origin
attesting to their good health, AND be vaccinated for rabies, distemper,
hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus (DHLPP) "at
a frequency that provides continuous protection of the dog from those diseases
and is in accordance with currently accepted practices as cited in veterinary
medicine reference guides."
See USDA Closes Another
Loophole: New Regs for Import of Foreign Puppy Mill Puppiesfor more
read the final rule, USDA Animal Welfare; Importation of Live
USDA Closes Another Loophole: New Regs for Import of Foreign
Puppy Mill Puppies
USDA Animal Welfare; Importation of Live
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
"Chapter 951: Crimes Against Animals"
(pdf) USDA/APHIS Animal Welfare Act "home"
Reporting Animal Cruelty WI Certified Humane
19 and the USDA Identification of Animals Regulations
List of Active Licensees and Registrants under the AWA
Inspection and Annual Reports
Home * About
WPMP * Contact Us * Site
Search * Donate
What is a Puppy
Mill? * Puppy Mill Survivors * Photo
Album * The Petstore Connection
Auctions * Animal
Hoarding * What YOU Can Do
Laws/Legislation * Act 90/S.173.41/ WI Dog Program
* Filing a Complaint Against a WI Dog Seller
Guide to Finding a
Pet * Breeders With Pride * Rehoming: Free To Good Home?
Copyright, 2008. The Wisconsin Puppy MIll Project
P.O. Box 926 * Sheboygan, WI
53082-0926 * info@NoWisconsinPuppyMills.com
PhotoCopyright © 1999, by
Elizabeth Meadows. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Website design by
Hook & Web