Dear Editor, Here in Austin, we are lucky to be able to walk into a pet store and only see cats and dogs from local shelters. There’s no risk of buying a dog from a puppy mill here, thanks to the 2010 ban on retail sale of cats and dogs. But in most of the rest of the country, as well as online, it’s still far too easy to unknowingly purchase an animal from a puppy mill. Thankfully, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has released its yearly Horrible Hundred report to inform the public of known puppy mills and the horrible conditions inside them. HSUS workers found that many dogs in these facilities were emaciated, injured, or living in their own feces. The worst part? Over half of the breeders in the Horrible Hundred list are USDA-licensed. In recent years, the USDA has drastically reduced its enforcement of animal welfare regulation at puppy mills. According to The Washington Post, enforcement actions have decreased by 90% since 2016. Similarly, citations of breeders have dropped by 60%. This means that an inhumane breeder is unlikely to have their license revoked. This goes to show that current laws are insufficient. Let’s work to strengthen USDA standards, prioritize enforcement of these regulations, and ban retail sale of cats and dogs everywhere. And when it comes time for you or a loved one to get their next pet, be sure to check shelters and rescue organizations before anything else. Learn more at HumaneSociety.org/puppy.