Currently the United States Department of Agriculture does not license or inspect large-scale puppy producers who sell puppies over the Internet or directly to the public. Many of these unlicensed facilities sell puppies sight-unseen to unsuspecting buyers who assume they are purchasing from a small family breeder. Hundreds of these “direct” sellers have taken advantage of the pre-Internet language of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations (otherwise known as the “retail pet stores loophole”) to operate without any federal oversight or inspections. As a result, an increasing number of large-scale unlicensed breeders are not monitored for their animals’ overall health or for any humane treatment standards.
The Humane Society of the United States, "The Problem of Unlicensed Puppy Mills" (2012). PUPPY MILL REPORTS. 9.