USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page

UPDATE (February 5, 2014): The 2013 Farm Bill (HR 2642), which has been passed by Congress and is awaiting final approval by President Obama, contains several changes that impact the regulation of pet dealers under the USDA/APHIS Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions rule. Read more.

On September 18, 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) published new federal regulations that narrow the“retail pet store” exemption which has historically exempted many small/hobby breeders from regulation under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). 

The purpose is to bring internet-based pet breeders and sellers under the regulation of the AWA.  However, the broadly-based regulation will also expand USDA oversight of pet breeders to also include people who maintain at least five “breeding females” of any species AND sell one pet “sight unseen.”  There appear to be a number of possible exemptions available for a variety of circumstances. The AKC is currently working with USDA/APHIS to obtain more information and clarification on these and other issues, which we will share with you.

This is a regulatory, not legislative, change. The new regulations will go into effect on November 18, 2013.There was no vote in Congress and AKC has to work within the confines of an administrative – rather than legislative – process.  Since the rule was first proposed in May 2012, the AKC has worked to educate USDA/APHIS about responsible breeders and dog owners and the potential impact of this rule change. Unfortunately many of our most important concerns were not addressed.

We strongly encourage you to review the resources below, including the frequently asked questions, to further understand the new rule, and to keep checking back, as we will continue to update this page as information becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

AKC Updates on Final Rule (September 2013-July 2014)
USDA APHIS Establishes New Process for Inspections Appeals
Federal Update: Congress Passes Farm Bill with Two Improvements to the Animal Welfare Act (Feb. 4, 2014)
AKC Statement on Injunction Efforts (Nov. 26, 2013)
Registration Open for Second USDA Webinar (Nov. 8, 2013)
AKC Seeks Clarifications on Final Rule (Oct. 25, 2013)
AKC Taking Command September 2013 Newsletter – Director's Letter (posted Oct. 7 2013)
AKC Taking Command September 2013 Newsletter – Article: "The New APHIS Rule: Exploring the Options" (posted Oct. 7 2013)
AKC Handout: USDA/APHIS Regulations– What Do They Mean for Responsible Dog Owners and Breeders
AKC Printable Chart: Does the New USDA Rule Affect Me?
Good Advice from our Friends at the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) (Oct. 16, 2013)
APHIS Conference Call Full, Questions Accepted Until 2pm Today (Sept. 18, 2013)
Participate in AKC’s Conference Call with APHIS on Thursday, September 19 (Sept. 17, 2013)
AKC Legislative Alert: USDA/APHIS FINALIZES RULE IMPACTING PET BREEDERS (Sept. 10, 2013)

AKC Conference Call with APHIS (Sept. 19, 2013)
Recordings – WAV | MP3 (Sept. 20, 2013)
View Transcript of call (Sept. 20, 2013)

USDA/APHIS Official Information on Rule
APHIS Issues Updated Fact Sheet (Dec. 5, 2013)
USDA Issues New Updated Inspections Guide (Dec. 2, 2013)
Retail Pet Store Webinar Archives and Registration (Nov. 27, 2013)
Retail Pet Store Rule Webinar Presentations Now Available For Viewing (Nov. 15, 2013)
USDA to Host Webinars on the New Retail Pet Store Rule (Oct. 24, 2013)
Information on Government Shutdown (Oct. 1, 2013)
USDA Handout: “Does APHIS’ New Retail Pet Rule Impact Me?” (Sept. 25, 2013)
Read the final rule as published in the Federal Register (Sept. 18, 2013)
APHIS Final Rule FAQs (Sept. 10, 2013)
USDA/APHIS Press Release (Sept. 10, 2013)
APHIS contact for specific questions: Dr. Gerald Rushin – (301) 851-3751

USDA/APHIS Animal Welfare Act Information
Farm Bill Animal Welfare Act Provision (March 6, 2014)
Updated USDA Factsheet: Regulation of Cat/Dog Breeders and Dealers (Feb. 7, 2014)
USDA Online Complaint Form (Dec. 3, 2013)
Updated AWA Regulations Now Available on USDA Website
View USDA PowerPoint regarding requirements for USDA licensing
Read the federal Animal Welfare Act
Read the federal Animal Welfare Act regulations
USDA/APHIS information for Companion Animal Breeders
Information on USDA inspections
APHIS contact for specific questions: Dr. Gerald Rushin – (301) 851-3751

AKC Comments/Legislative Alerts on Proposed Rule (July 2012-August 2013)
AKC’s letter to Congress regarding proposed APHIS regulations (July 17, 2013)
AKC Article – "Unintended Consequences: Two Measures Could Devastate Responsible Small/Hobby Breeders" (March 21, 2013)
AKC’s Comments to USDA/APHIS (Aug. 14, 2012)
AKC Petition on Proposed Rule (July-August 2012)
Legislative Alert: USDA/APHIS Rule Reminder: One Week Left to Comment! (August 8 2012)
Legislative Alert: Proposed USDA Regulation Comment Period Extended Until August 15 (July 12 2012)
Legislative Alert: Introducing AKC's New USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page! (June 26 2012)

Updated: July 11, 2014