Animal Law Review


Kaitlyn Cameron

Author Details

Kaitlyn Cameron, J.D. candidate 2024, Pace Law School

First Page



The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in 1966 with the purpose of ensuring the humane care and treatment of animals. The AWA delegates licensing responsibilities to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Services (APHIS), who have the authority to investigate violations of the AWA and penalize relevant organizations, such as puppy mills, when necessary. Unfortunately, the AWA sets forth minimum standards for the humane care and treatment of these animals and the USDA has exercised its own discretion in penalizing violations of the AWA. The AWA establishes standards for compliance, but such standards are minimal and inadequately enforced. The USDA has exercised its own discretion in penalizing violations of these minimal AWA standards, which has led to the continued licensing of puppy mills. This dynamic perpetuates the abuse and inhumane treatment of dogs and puppies. In response to the weak enforcement of the AWA by the USDA, many states have recently passed laws banning the sale of dogs from pet stores in hopes of eliminating the influx of dogs from puppy mills into the state. The disparity between these federal and state laws has resulted in minimal deterrence of puppy mill operations. Instead of taking polarized stances toward eliminating puppy mills, both federal and state legislation should meet in the middle and focus on better deterring the operation of puppy mills. This Article will analyze how the minimum standards and lackluster enforcement of the AWA has led to an extreme response from certain states who have taken action through their own legislative solutions. This Article will then propose legislation, on both the federal and state level, suggesting stronger regulations and more effective enforcement procedures to bridge the gap between the AWA and state laws in hopes of deterring and eliminating the operation of puppy mills.

Included in

Animal Law Commons



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