Government Relations

Federal Legislation

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to protecting the rights of dog owners throughout the United States. The AKC maintains a visible presence in our nation’s capital and continues to serve as a leader in promoting responsible dog care and ensuring that federal laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory.

Here are some highlights of federal measures AKC GR is currently monitoring. For a more complete listing of all the bills AKC GR is tracking, visit the AKC Legislative Tracking page, which is updated each weekday.

September 2014 (for previous higlights, click here)

Federal/RegulationPuppy Import Regulations. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) released regulations effective November 17 that implement Section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits importation of dogs into the United States for resale unless the dogs are at least 6 months of age and meet basic health clearances. These requirements, which were part of the 2008 Farm Bill, represent years of effort by the AKC, NAIA and other dog experts concerned about the public health impact of large numbers of puppies imported into the United States with little oversight. In many cases, these imported animals come from unknown origins (strays or street dogs) or unregulated high volume commercial breeders and may pose health risks to human and canine populations. The measure is expected to curtail the ”dumping” of potentially ill and parasite-infested imported puppies on US markets, where they may be resold or marketed as “rescues”.

Federal/Regulation — The “Farm Bill” (HR. 2642) and Farm Bill Conference Report passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year provide two changes negotiated by AKC to reduce the number of small hobby breeders subject to federal regulation as pet dealers under the US Animal Welfare Act as amended by the 2013 Retail Pet Store Rule. It directs USDA APHIS to prepare specific new rules that exempt small breeders who maintain more than four “breeding females” but do not transfer more than a “de minimis” (minimal) number of pets sight unseen. The conference report further directs APHIS to clarify the term “breeding female” to mean only those female animals capable of reproduction and actively being used in a breeding program should qualify as breeding females. By including only those animals currently part of an active breeder program, breeders will be able to maintain retired intact females or grow out young females without fear of triggering federal licensing requirements. AKC GR is actively monitoring USDA APHIS action on this front.

Federal/CongressH.R. 5449 (the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment act of 2014) authorizes federal support for passenger rail programs.  Introduced in September, H.R. 5449 includes language that would create a pilot program that allows, where feasible, ticketed passengers on certain routes to transport pets as carry-on baggage or as cargo in accordance with Amtrak cargo stowage requirements. AKC has discussed its support of this program with key bill sponsors. The House Transportation and Infrastructure committee approved the measure September 17.

Federal/CongressH.R. 2066 / S.1710 (“Pets on Trains Act of 2013”), supported by AKC GR, would require Amtrak, when feasible, to designate at least one car where passengers may transport a dog or cat if the pet is in a kennel that can be stowed according to Amtrak's requirements for carry-on baggage. Passengers could transport dogs or cats as cargo if the pets are in a kennel, the cargo area is temperature controlled, and the passenger is travelling less than 750 miles. Passengers would be required to pay a fee to transport their pets on trains. H.R. 2066 is pending in the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, & Hazardous Materials. S.1710 is pending in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.