Sens. Richard J. Durbin and David Vitter aren't usually kindred spirits, but they've found common cause against puppy mills.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois Democrat and Louisiana Republican praised publication of a final rule from the Agriculture Department that subjects operators of puppy mills selling animals online to new regulations.
"Too often, the media reports stories about dogs rescued from substandard facilities — where puppies are housed in stacked wire cages and routinely denied access to veterinary care. Unfortunately, online dog sales have contributed to the rise of these sad cases" Durbin said in a statement. "Today's announcement by the USDA brings much needed oversight to the previously unregulated business of online breeders and puppy mills."
Durbin and Vitter have been seeking the administrative action in part because their legislation to strengthen laws against inhumane treatment of dogs by puppy mills hasn't advanced through the Senate.
The USDA is taking the action by redefining "retail pet stores" to include the online sellers. The Los Angeles Times editorial board backed action last month in a piece outlining the ways in which advocates of the changes say the old law had become antiquated.
"Finalizing this rule is a big step forward in ensuring that puppies are treated humanely and bred in safe and sanitary facilities, and that consumers can purchase healthy pets for their families," Vitter said in a statement.
Puppy mill oversight has been a longstanding issue for Durbin and Vitter, one that Heard on the Hill covered as far back as 2011.