MLAR's ad In this week's Washington Post

Click on bus to see photosMLAR DC Bus Wrap
Main Line Animal Rescue wrapped a public transit bus in order to raise public awareness and to cast a light on the inability of some APHIS employees to properly protect these dogs. The report also states that there are inspectors who take their jobs seriously, are conscientious, and enforce the AWA. We are sure that's true. Unfortunately, the report also painfully illustrates that other USDA/APHIS inspectors (and administrators) are failing the very dogs they're paid to protect. The bus will travel the streets of Washington DC and will be seen by millions of people.

What you can do?

• Don't buy a puppy from a pet store, not if that puppy came from one of the thousands of puppy mills currently plaguing our country. Ninety-nine percent of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. Adopt from your local shelter instead.

• Support federal legislation that would prevent large breeders from circumventing the Animal Welfare Act by selling their dogs over the Internet. All applicable breeders should be licensed and regulated, and required to adhere to the AWA. Secretary Vilsack should push to amend the current law to include applicable breeders who sell their dogs over the Internet and hold them to the same standards expected of wholesale breeders selling dogs to pet stores.

Two years after appearing on Oprah's groundbreaking puppy mill show, Main Line Animal Rescue continues to educate the public to the plight of dogs confined to our country's large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities.

We applaud the Office of Inspector General's investigators for bringing these abuses to light. The investigation was extremely thorough and will hopefully result in stricter oversight of APHIS' inspection and prosecutorial practices.

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In 2010, the Office of the Inspector General released the results of their audit on the USDA. What they found will shock and disgust you.

While the USDA (APHIS) is charged with protecting dogs in commercial breeding kennels and broker facilities, in case after case, the federal agency has failed to enforce our laws and has allowed untold dogs to suffer while protecting the very people who abuse them.

We urge you to read the report, look at the photographs, then contact your representatives in Congress and demand that they take action to ensure the USDA is enforcing our laws to the fullest extent.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) audited the USDA in 1992, 1995, and again in 2005. Each audit showed APHIS (the division of the USDA charged with inspecting federally-licensed dog breeding kennels and brokers) did a horrible job protecting dogs in many of our country's worst puppy mills. In 2010, the OIG released the results of their latest audit of the USDA/APHIS - the report mentions dogs so starved they resorted to cannibalism, dogs covered with ticks and parasites, stagnant pools of feces, food swarming with cockroaches, and dogs with rotting wounds and exposed bones. And what did some APHIS inspectors do? They reduced fines for kennels charged with multiple violations, refused to cite repeat offenders, and refused to confiscate dogs that were in serious danger - resulting in the death of those animals.

Many members of Congress agree that it would be almost impossible to modify the Animal Welfare Act and that any attempt to improve the existing laws would be met with fierce opposition from the agricultural community. If this is true, then the very least we should expect from APHIS (the division of the USDA charged with inspecting federally-licensed breeding kennels and brokers) is that the existing laws be enforced. The Animal Welfare Act barely constitutes survival standards for dogs in these kennels: food, water, and some kind of shelter - the minimum standards needed to keep a dog alive. If the USDA can't even manage to enforce a law as weak as the AWA, then we have a real problem.

In July of 2010, David Yoder owner of Black Diamond Acres killed almost 100 dogs in a makeshift gas chamber on his farm in Seneca County, New York. Yoder converted a whelping box into a gas chamber and using a hose connected to the exhaust pipe of his tractor, killed 78 adult breeding dogs and 15 puppies in full view of the other dogs in his kennel. Yoder complained that the fumes gave him a headache and at one point he had to leave his kennel. Yoder and his wife Barbara violated New York's state laws which bans the use of gas to destroy dogs or cats. Yoder also violated our federal laws (Black Diamond Acres was licensed and inspected by the USDA) which requires unwanted or sick dogs in USDA licensed breeding kennels to be euthanized by a licensed vet only. Over a year later, the USDA has still failed to prosecute Yoder. He voluntarily surrendered his federal license but no federal charges were ever filed. Secretary Vilsack, do the inspectors and regional supervisors in that part of New York State understand that they are there to protect these animals, and people who break the law and hurt innocent animals need to be prosecuted? View Ad

The majority of pet stores selling dogs in this country boast that the breeders providing their stores with puppies are inspected by the USDA. If you read the report, you will see that claim means very little. Certainly nothing consumers should feel good about. If you knew the puppy your family is thinking of buying came from one of the facilities described in the Inspector General's report, would you still buy him? Knowing that if you did, his mother would remain, forced to produce more puppies, year after year, in a cage just 6" longer than her body, drinking contaminated water, and suffering from parasites and untreated wounds?

The problem has always been and remains, commercial dog breeding kennels, providing puppies to pet stores, are licensed and inspected by the USDA and are considered agricultural businesses. The USDA's primary role is to promote agriculture and agricultural businesses. Many inspectors are reluctant to fine or help prosecute the very people they're paid to promote. If dogs and puppies were not considered agricultural products by the federal government, and if these kennels did not fall under the auspice of the USDA, then many of this country's worst puppy mills would close and the suffering of millions of dogs would stop.

According to the report, at a broker facility in Oklahoma (housing 525 adult dogs), the Office of Inspector General's auditors observed "an excessive number of insects/cockroaches crawling on the walls, the floor, and the ceiling." Food bowls were infested with dead and live cockroaches. The APHIS (AC) inspector insisted cockroaches (do not necessarily pose) immediate health concerns with no harm observed to their (the dogs') health. Unbelievably, her supervisor supported her assessment. The Office of Inspector General's auditors then asked experts from three separate veterinary hospitals who disagreed and explained that cockroaches have been linked to transmission of Parvovirus and Salmonella, and can be dangerous to the health of dogs.

In this economy, with a great number of people out of work, there is no excuse for the federal government to continue to employ regional supervisors and (AC) inspectors who habitually fail to protect the animals in these facilities. These people are being paid to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, and clean-up or close down substandard kennels. And your tax-money is paying their salaries. If they don't wish to do their jobs, then the USDA should replace them with people who will.