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New law aims to stop Arizona stores from buying from puppy mills

PHOENIX — A new pet law that began Saturday states pet stores in Arizona must purchase puppies from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensed breeders.

The goal is to stop stores from buying dogs that are from puppy mills. If a pet store does buy from an unlicensed breeder, the store could face penalties.

Federal law states any breeder that has more than four female breeding dogs is required to have a license from the USDA. If a breeder has less than four female dogs, they don’t need a license and can still sell to Arizona pet stores.

“People could see it as, well, this could be a protection, but it’s not. It’s actually a step back,” said Michael Morefield, who is with the Arizona Animal Welfare League. “The law is actually counteracting two laws in the cities of Phoenix and Tempe that banned puppy stores from getting dogs from commercial breeders and puppy mills.”

Morefield said the law is a step backward because the USDA doesn’t have enough resources to make sure all licensed breeders in the United States are treating their animals humanely.

Linda Nofer, with Puppies N’ Love and Animal Kingdom Pet Stores, said the law is actually a step in the right direction because, “it’s the only regulation now making it very transparent that pet stores have to disclose the breeder’s name, the state and the USDA license number on the kennel of each puppy.”

Nofer said using that information people can do their own research to make sure breeders are treating animals humanely.

If a USDA licensed breeder does receive a violation, they will not be able to sell puppies to Arizona pet stores.

“To actually receive a USDA violation is way beyond where it should be,” Morefield said. “The violations should start much earlier.”

Nofer said, this law adds transparency and holds pet stores responsible if they don’t buy dogs from licensed USDA breeders.

Bottom line, Morefield said the regulation nationwide is not strong enough to make sure the puppies bought from national breeders are being treated humanely.

If a pet store is caught three times buying from an unlicensed breeder, they will be required to only buy dogs from shelters and rescue groups.

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