With the advent of the Internet and the online sale of all measure of goods, it was inevitable that animals also would be sold over the web. Those who breed animals for the commercial pet trade, particularly large-scale puppy mills, increasingly made use of this medium, because web-based operations were exempt from licensing and inspection by USDA under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Internet sales further served the breeders by preventing potential buyers from seeing and evaluating the animals prior to purchase.
In September, in response to years of pressure by AWI and others in the humane community, USDA announced changes to the AWA regulations. The changes will at long last establish USDA oversight of breeders for the pet trade who sell animals solely via the Internet.