According to a recent federal investigation, the USDA's (U.S. Department of Agriculture) arm in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act — the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS — often "ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs."

Here’s more, thanks to a piece in Tuesday's MercuryNews.com:

In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.

The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found [that] more than half of those large kennels — known as puppy mills — had already been cited for violations [yet] flouted the law again.

The report recommends that the animal care unit at the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service immediately confiscate animals that are dying or seriously suffering, and better train its inspectors to document, report and penalize wrongdoing.

It’s nothing those of us who reside in puppy mill-aplenty states or pet shop-rich cities don’t already know about. If you live in South Florida, for example, you may have heard about the class action lawsuits against the puppy purveyors who have been repeatedly cited for selling sick merchandise (read: puppies). This doesn’t guarantee that any justice will be served. They still have custody of 55 puppies.

No, the political will is just not there when it comes to enforcement of the basic laws we as a society have already deemed fair and just. This, despite the atrocities an overwhelming percentage of the citizenry seeks an end to.

We’re not asking for new laws. We want nothing more, save simple compliance and basic enforcement from our officials. And when that doesn’t happen, we expect some self-scrutiny in the governmental game of checks and balances so that we can push back.

This time they did. Now we’ll just have to stay tuned to see if anything will change, and live to fight another day should it fail to.

Dr. Patty Khuly

P.S. You can read the full USDA report here.

Art of the day: "No Puppy Mills buttons" by jnhcrawczyk