Appeals Court Supports USDA, AKC

The US Court of Appeals sided with the USDA and AKC Tuesday in a case that would have made all...

The US Court of Appeals sided with the USDA and AKC Tuesday in a case that would have made all residential breeders of dogs and cats subject to federal licensing and inspection. The ruling, which reversed a lower court's decision, rejects arguments by Doris Day Animal League and other animal rights groups that wanted to bring residential breeders under the umbrella of the Animal Welfare Act.

"We are extremely pleased with the Appeals Court's decision," said Noreen Baxter, AKC's Vice President for Public Education and Legislation. "The American Kennel Club wants dogs to receive proper care, and we believe that the Court's interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act is the best way to accomplish that goal."

Currently, the Animal Welfare Act includes only wholesale dealers of animals but the lawsuit filed by DDAL would have broadened it to cover people who sell from their homes. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that people who sell from their own homes fall under the definition of "retail pet stores" that are exempt from regulation under the law. AKC supported the USDA's position that hobby breeders are already subject to state and local laws to prevent cruelty. In addition, the USDA argued-and the court agreed-there is a great deal of oversight by breed registries such as the AKC. AKC performs over 4000 inspections of private breeding facilities-including homes and pet stores-each year.

"The decision by the Court will allow the USDA to focus its attention on those wholesale dealers who fail to provide proper care rather than diverting precious resources to investigate small, in-home breeders," Baxter stated. "AKC supports strong enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, and this is a fair decision that will do the most to promote animal welfare."