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REGULATIONS

USDA pushes tighter rules on Internet dog sales

Dog breeders who skirt animal welfare laws by selling puppies over the Internet would face tighter scrutiny under a rule change proposed Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The change would subject dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies electronically, by mail or over the phone to the same oversight faced by wholesale dealers as part of the Animal Welfare Act.

That law, written in 1966, set standards of care for animals bred for commercial sale and research. Retail sales were exempt from inspections under the assumption that anyone who visited the store could see whether the animals appeared healthy and cared for.

The Internet opened a new venue for puppy sales, and thousands of large-scale breeders who advertise there have not been subject to oversight or inspection.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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