HSUS Urges Lawmakers to go After Small Businesses During COVID-19

Sending the Wrong Message:

Humane Society of the United States asks Lawmakers to Prioritize Closing Pet Stores During COVID


This message was not about COVID-19, the $2 trillion-dollar stimulus bill or the looming economic recession and resulting increase in unemployment. The message from Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) CEO Kitty Block was to applaud the passage of 3 more local pet sale bans. For over seven years retail pet sale bans have been HSUS’s misguided and ineffective effort to eliminate puppy mills.

So far it is Retail Bans-351 to Puppy Mills Closed-0


At a time when all Americans and elected officials are working tirelessly to save small businesses, the CEO of a $200 million-dollar non-profit organization is celebrating legislation that will cause the closure of small businesses. One Carver, Minnesota, pet store will soon be closed, while the alleged puppy mill will remain open for business. It is also worth noting, one locality that passed a ban, Algonquin, Illinois, never had any puppy-selling pet stores.


And while the CEO of HSUS was celebrating legislation that will negatively impact pets and small businesses the CEO of the ASPCA, Matt Bershadker, announced the launch of a $5 million dollar grants program to provide emergency relief to local animal shelters impacted by COVID-19.


You Can Make a Lot More Money Banning the Sale of Puppies Than Selling Puppies


Since 2013 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has assisted in the passage of 351 local and state retail puppy sale bans in an effort to eliminate puppy mills. To date there has not been a single puppy mill that has been identified as closed due to a retail bans. The HSUS definition of a “puppy mill” is “a dog breeding operation, which offers dogs for monetary compensation or remuneration, in which the physical, psychological and/or behavioral needs are not being fulfilled due to inadequate housing, shelter, staffing, nutrition, socialization, exercise, veterinary care, and/or inappropriate breeding.” During testimony to promote retail pet sale bans HSUS staff attributes this general lack of care to the fact that dog breeders care more about their monetary profits than the welfare of their dogs.


When you visit a best practice commercial dog breeder who sells their puppies to a retail pet store you quickly understand all the staff time, equipment and supplies it takes to raise healthy puppies. And you certainly do not see any evidence of an opulent lifestyle funded by the immense profits from breeding dogs. But no one from HSUS has ever visited a best practice commercial kennel or spoken to a commercial dog breeder about their kennel operations and standards of care. Breeding dogs properly requires years of education and experience to develop the competency to be successful.


The number of USDA licensed dog breeders have steadily increased since 2016. This is a promising sign that more breeders are stepping up to higher standards of care and willing to be inspected by the federal government. In this blog, Petland President and CEO Joe Watson, emphasized that pet store bans can push consumers towards unregulated breeders,

“Bans are pushing families to buy their pets over the internet or in the dark corners of the unregulated pet trade. A space “out of sight and out of mind” of elected officials and federal oversight. A space that lacks transparency, animal welfare standards, consumer protections and consumer choice.”


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animal Breeders average annual income ranges from $22,730 to $73,130. According to the 2018 HSUS annual 990 report to the IRS, the top 14 staff members have salaries ranging from $150,000 to $255,000.


Advocating to ban the sale of puppies requires no knowledge about dog breeding and can lead to twice the annual income of a successful dog breeder.


During these incredibly challenging times one would hope that the next message from the CEO of HSUS will be something substantive that will help all animals and the people who care for them.


Suggested Further Reading: “What is Best for Pets?” A Message from Petland President and CEO, “Impact of California’s Retail Pet Sale Ban.


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