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Did you know that as of June 1, 2011, all dog sellers and facilities that sell 25 dogs or more from more than 3 litters (including rescues and shelters) must be licensed and comply with the standards of care established in ATCP 16? This law "requires inspection and licensing of many dog breeders, dealers, and sellers, as well as shelters and rescues that foster and adopt out dogs. The new law also prohibits selling puppies less than 7 weeks old unless they go with their mothers, and requires that certificates of veterinary inspection – health certificates – accompany dogs that are sold or adopted for a fee. The intent is to protect the welfare of dogs and to protect consumers who buy or adopt them." (Source: Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.)

A dalmation at Pretty Penny Kennels in Plymouth, WI (Learn more here)
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project
Unfortunately, there are still many "backyard breeders" and "puppy mills" that fly under the radar of ATCP 16. Whether they sell puppies from the back of a truck, from a barn, or with the help of online classifieds websites like Craigslist, it is important to understand that no law can fully prevent disingenuous breeders from continuing bad breeding practices. Many dogs that comes from these bad breeding operations have health and/or behavioral issues, may not have had life-saving vaccinations, and have not been spayed or neutered. 

Of course not all dog breeders are bad! There are many honest, caring and law-abiding breeders in the state of Wisconsin that do their best to breed well-tempered, genetically sound and healthy pups. But how do you know if the breeder you're working with is reputable? How do you know they have their dogs' best interests in mind? That's where the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Comes in. They maintain a database of all licensed dog breeders in the state of Wisconsin, which is searchable by name, county and even other US states. These breeders have all been licensed and agree to comply with the regulations under ATCP 16. Before you purchase a new dog or puppy, check this list!

So what do you do if you come across a "bad breeder"? What if you know someone who is thwarting this important piece of state legislation? What if you come across a repeat Craigslist offender? Or what if a breeder appears on the DATCP list, but isn't following the standards of care required of them in ATCP 16? As a pet lover and citizen of Wisconsin, it is important that you report these types of breeders to DATCP for further investigation. The only way we can put a stop to puppy mills and bad breeding in the state of Wisconsin is to turn over offenders and make them accountable for their choices. Together we can keep our state and our beloved dogs safe, happy and healthy!

For more info about ATCP 16 and dog breeders in Wisconsin, please visit The Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project.

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