(May 10, 2012)--Dog breeders who skirt animal welfare laws by selling animals over the Internet would face tighter scrutiny under a proposed rule change by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The change proposed Thursday would apply to dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies online, by mail or over the phone.
The owners would be subject to the same animal welfare oversight facing pet stores.
The change does not affect small-scale breeders who only sell puppies from physical locations.
It's designed to ensure that the pets are healthy and genetically sound.
The USDA is looking to close a loophole in the 1966 Animal Welfare Act, which predated the rise of e-commerce.
If approved after a 60-day comment period, breeders would have to open their doors to buyers, or be subject to inspection.