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united states: puppy and kitten mills in the u.s.
KEY MESSAGE: In the United States (and throughout the world), puppy and kitten production is a multi-billion dollar industry with a sophisticated distribution system, profiting many players.
The inhumane breeding and selling of dogs and cats (for profit) is a problem that effects all of the United States — and other countries. Many dogs and cats produced in Minnesota are sold and transported across State borders, which is why the federal government is involved with licensing of some breeders.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), top producers of puppies and kittens in the United States include Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. This ranking is based on USDA-licensed facilities who sell wholesale, i.e. to pet stores.
This ranking does not include: 1) commercial kennels who sell animals directly to consumers through the Internet or classified ads; 2) backyard breeders or larger kennels who ignore the federal law and do not obtain a federal license; or 3) any breeder who has three intact adult females or less. (A USDA license applies only to kennels with 4 intact adult females or more.)
While USDA-licensed facilities tend to be the largest kennels, they represent only a fraction of all breeders/dealers.
Statistics from the Humane Society of the United States and the USDA
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates there are approximately 7,360 puppy mills (large commercial kennels with inhumane conditions) in the United States. It’s also estimated that over 2,690,000 puppies sold annually originated in puppy mills. There are approximately 11,500-12,000 pet stores in the U.S., and 3,500-3,700 of these stores sell cats and dogs. It’s estimated that 300,000-500,000 puppies are sold every year through pet stores. In a recent survey, about 85% of pet stores were unwilling to reveal paperwork identifying their puppies’ origin.
Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): In 2006, there were 9,075 USDA-licensed facilities, of which 5,197 were breeders/dealers. This is up from 2005. In 2005, the USDA reported 8,048 total USDA-licensed facilities, of which 4,500 were breeders/dealers.
A multi-billion dollar industry
It's estimated that dog and cat breeding and dealing is a multi-billion dollar industry. As with other industries, it depends on a full system of distribution that cross state borders, which is why it’s defined in terms of commerce.
The puppy mill industry in the State of Missouri, for example, is estimated to exceed $40 million per year. The puppy mill industry in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (one county) is valued at $7 million a year in sales. No total revenues have been calculated for the dog and cat breeding industry in Minnesota.
Breeders are only one part of the ‘commerce’ picture.
Most states, such as Minnesota, have limited involvement and authority due to lack of State laws.