USDA cracks down on Internet pet sales

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The USDA announced Tuesday it's cracking down on Internet pet sales. Breeders selling animals online will now have to be licensed, meaning they abide by federal regulations.

This new regulation applies to dog owners who breed more than four females and sell puppies online.

"The loophole  for puppy mills was selling through the internet, mail or on the phone without the ability to see the animals before adoption," said Mary Pat Boatfield, executive director of the Central Missouri Humane Society.

The puppy mill breeders could classify themselves online as a retail pet store. Pet stores are exempt from licensing requirements because buyers can see the animals before they adopt them.

"Now that we are going to have some federal oversight, it will be much better for the animals and be a form of consumer protection for the buyer," said Boatfield.

The state of Missouri does have the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act from 2011. It has strengthened the standards for veterinary care and living conditions of dogs in commercial breeding facilities.

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