Rule barring puppy mill K9 imports near

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Agriculture,Mexico,Farm Bill,Animals,Humane Society,Colombia

Six years after Congress approved a law to prevent young dogs bred at foreign puppy mills from being dumped on U.S. shores, some with rabies and other diseases, the administration has failed to act, drawing new criticism from the Humane Society of the United States.

"It's hard to believe that the USDA hasn't taken final action after six years on a straightforward, common-sense measure to prevent dogs from foreign puppy mills from landing on U.S. shores," Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle said of the Agriculture Department.

"USDA has an obligation to enforce the law and prevent unscrupulous foreign mills from contributing to more animal suffering," he told Secrets.

An Ag spokesman said the department is working through the issue with the White House to get it right.

"This is a very important issue and remains a priority for the our agency. We are currently coordinating with the Office of Management and Budget as we prepare to finalize the rule as soon as possible," said Ed Curlett, spokesman, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Another official said that a final ruling is near.

According to a federal report, 40 countries, including Mexico and Colombia, export 17,000 dogs every year to the United States. Pacelle said that many arrive in the United States sick or dead. The business is valued at $14.6 million, with the average price of an imported dog being $926.

He has started a petition to urge Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop the illegal K9 immigration. Pacelle also blogged on the issue in a post headlined, "Unreasonable Delay, Unthinkable Abuse."

Secrets recently reported that the rules to implement the 2008 addition to the Farm Bill have been stuck in the administration's regulatory and cost review process. However, the costs of the regulation were estimated in August 2011, according to a document provided to Secrets and published below.

The provision approved six years ago bars dogs younger than six months old from being imported. It also required proof of vaccination. The report notes that one imported dog from Iraq had rabies, resulting in $28,000 in medical costs for those involved.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.