Fitzpatrick, Reschenthaler bill puts commercial dog breeders in check

To improve protections for canines, U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) on March 17 offered a bipartisan bill that would improve federal standards for licensed commercial dog breeders. 

The Puppy Protection Act of 2023, H.R. 1624, which Rep. Fitzpatrick sponsored with three original cosponsors, including Rep. Reschenthaler and U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), would amend the Animal Welfare Act to provide for the humane treatment of dogs.

For example, H.R. 1624 would require “dealers,” a.k.a. breeders, to provide adequate housing that includes unstacked enclosures that are also temperature controlled, according to the text of the bill.  

“It is crucial that Congress update the standards for commercial breeders in the Animal Welfare Act to further protect animals, and this bipartisan legislation does just that,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “I’m proud to lead the Puppy Protection Act to ensure that Congress stands up for our dogs.”

Rep. Reschenthaler, a member of the Animal Protection Caucus, said too many dogs currently suffer from inhumane conditions and abuse at the hands of commercial breeders. 

“The Puppy Protection Act will protect these animals and put puppy mills on a short leash by holding them to a higher standard of care,” the congressman said. “I look forward to partnering with my colleagues to bring this common-sense bill to the House floor.”

Additionally, H.R. 1624 would require that commercial breeders feed each dog appropriate and nutritious food at least twice per day, the text says, and that each dog has continuous access to potable water that is not frozen and is free of feces, algae, and other contaminants.

The bill also would require that each dog receive adequate outdoor exercise and unrestricted access from their primary enclosures during daylight hours, and that each dog has “meaningful socialization” with humans and compatible dogs for at least 30 minutes each day, according to the bill.

The legislation is endorsed by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA.

A companion bill will be introduced at a later date by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in his chamber, according to congressional staffers.