Senator Santorum Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

-- Click here for more information about PAWS -- On May 26, 2005 Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)...

-- Click here for more information about PAWS --

 

On May 26, 2005 Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced legislation which will bring under coverage of the federal Animal Welfare Act some persons who import dogs for resale or sell dogs at retail through the internet or the mass media which they did not breed and raise. It will also bring under coverage high volume breeders who sell dogs at retail. The legislation also strengthens the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to enforce compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and to identify persons who are evading the Act. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The bill, called the "Pet Animal Welfare Statute" of 2005, or "PAWS", includes provisions advocated by the AKC as an alternative to the "Puppy Protection Act" introduced by Senators Santorum and Durbin in the 107th Congress, which the AKC opposed. The new legislation continues the current regulation of breeders who sell puppies at wholesale. However, it extends regulation to breeders who sell at retail and whelp 7 or more litters a year and persons who acquire and resell at retail more than 25 dogs a year which they did not breed. The legislation continues the current exemption for retail pet stores, but defines "retail pet store" more narrowly than present regulations. The legislation exempts breeders who whelp fewer than 7 litters a year and raise the puppies on their own premises unless they sell puppies for resale.

While the AKC has traditionally opposed federal regulation of persons who sell dogs only at retail to protect hobby and show breeders who breed and raise puppies in a residential environment, the rapid rise in imports of puppies for retail resale, and the use of the internet and mass media channels to sell large numbers of puppies at retail have made wholesale versus retail sellers increasingly less synonymous with commercial dealers versus amateur fanciers. PAWS makes a reasonable distinction between commercial breeders and amateur fanciers and makes other significant improvements in enforcement that make the legislation worthy of AKC and fancier support. It does not attempt to regulate breeding and socialization practices, as the previous legislation did.

In addition to bringing high volume breeders under regulation, PAWS will significantly strengthen the USDA’s ability to identify breeders who sell puppies for resale but who evade licensing and regulation by requiring retail pet stores and others who acquire dogs for resale to maintain, and provide to the USDA on request, source records for the dogs they acquire. It also extends the period of time that the USDA can suspend the license of a dealer when the health of animals is in imminent danger from the current 21 days to 60 days. Finally, the bill authorizes the USDA’s lawyers to go to court directly to obtain injunctions against persons operating without a license or with a suspended or revoked license, rather than having to convince busy U.S. attorneys to take up such cases.

The legislation was designated S. 1139 and was assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Sen. Santorum is a member of that committee and Chair of its subcommittee on Research, Nutrition and General Legislation, which has jurisdiction over this legislation. The identical bill, designated H.R. 2669, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) and assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, of which Rep. Farr is a member.