USDA LAW AND ANIMAL CRUELTY
The USDA Animal Welfare Act may be relevant when you investigate animal cruelty that involves the following:
- Animal dealers, such as dog breeders, breeders of research animals
- Breeders of hunting dogs, security dogs
- Animal exhibitors, such as zoos (including roadside zoos), carnivals, circuses, animal acts, educational exhibits
- Airport terminal animal holding facilities
- Any business (including pet stores) that deals with wild animals that are not indigenous to Vermont (meaning not native to the state, for example, prairie dogs, pot bellied pigs, etc.)
In general, such enterprises must be licensed by the USDA and operated according to the standards established by the Animal Welfare Act. Document your case and contact the USDA field office for Vermont at (703) 812-6545, or the main office in Maryland at (410) 962-7463, and present them with your findings. If you have a situation you are not sure of, call the USDA to find out.
- You may be investigating a case involving an irresponsible breeder or puppy mill owner who is in violation of Title 13.
If the breeder has more than three breeding bitches and is selling the litters wholesale, he must be licensed under the Animal Welfare Act and must be in compliance with standards specified under the Animal Welfare Act.
- You may be investigating a case involving a roadside zoo which is violating Title 13.
If the zoo contains animals that are not indigenous to Vermont (meaning they are not native to the state, but have been imported from somewhere else, such as lion cubs, for example) then the zoo must be licensed by the USDA and meet certain mandated standards of care established by the Animal Welfare Act.