From Our Nation’s Capitol
AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2020 Legislation Tracking page and click on “US Fed” on the map to get the latest updates on federal bills currently being monitored by the AKC. Highlights of issues we are currently addressing on the federal level include:
U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration (CISA) – CISA executes the directive of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. CISA has developed a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. The list is designed to assist community decision-making in determining critical functions and essential sectors that should continue operations during the COVID-19 response. The document lists, under the section food and agriculture: Workers supporting groceries… and other retail that sells human food, animal/pet food, and beverage products; pet and animal feed processing facilities; farm workers to include those employed in animal …feed, and ingredient production; and employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution.
DHS/TSA Response to Congressional Directive on Standards for Explosives Detection Dogs – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has published new technical, medical, and behavioral standards recommendations for explosives detection canines. These standards are a response to legislation (HR 4577 – the Domestic Explosives Canine Capacity Building Act) that the American Kennel Club (AKC) worked to advance in 2017 and 2018. That legislation directed the TSA to establish a public-private working group, which included a representative from the AKC, to create clear, consistent standards that would be published and adopted by TSA to help remedy the grave shortage of U.S.-sourced explosives detection dogs. Read More.
U.S. Congress – H.R. 5715 would expand federal regulation of pet sellers under jurisdiction of both the USDA (AWA) and the Federal Trade Commission to include anyone who is subject to USDA licensing as a pet dealer or who maintains more than 4 female cats and dogs and sells more than 25 pets in a year. It expands information that must be collected about the breeder/seller, including, among other things, personally identifiable information, contact information, number of animals sold in previous years, and would require that all such information be published online in a machine-readable format. It provides reasonable prohibitions and limitations on reissuing licenses to individuals or family of individuals whose licenses are under suspension or have been revoked. Additionally, it establishes unfair or deceptive practices with respect to the sale of pets but exempts public pet shelters or other pet sellers registered as 501c3 charitable organizations.
U.S. DOT Proposed Rule Redefining “Service Animal” Under federal Air Carrier Access Act—In January the U.S. Department of Transportation responded to the concerns of AKC and many other organizations regarding rules used to enforce the federal Air Carrier Access Act. The DOT proposed that the definition of “service animal” be changed to, “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefits of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” This proposal would align the ACAA and ADA definitions of service animals and would include psychiatric service animals. Dogs not specifically task trained, including those considered emotional support animals under the existing definition, would not be considered a service animal. Those animals may continue to be accommodated by air carriers as pets. AKC provided comments on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in 2019, and on the proposed rule in April 2020. AKC was pleased that the 2020 proposed rule was largely in line with changes advocated and support by AKC.
U.S. Congress – The WOOF Act, H.R. 1002, seeks to prohibit a relative of a dealer, exhibitor, or licensee whose license has been revoked by the USDA from obtaining a license for the same facility and assuming operation of that enterprise. It also requires that licensees demonstrate compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) through inspections before licenses are renewed. The AKC supports these concepts. AKC GR has recommended an amendment to address several troublesome technical aspects so as to protect responsible breeders who are compliant with USDA requirements.
U.S. Congress – H.R. 2442 (the “Puppy Protection Act”) seeks to amend the AWA by establishing extensive new requirements for pet breeders who maintain more than 4 breeding animals (intact cats, dogs or other small mammals) and sell at least one animal sight unseen. Requirements include but are not limited to: completely solid flooring; mandated primary enclosure height such that a dog can stand on its hinds legs and not touch the enclosure roof; new space requirements; a prohibition on stacked enclosures; mandated feeding twice daily; continuous access to water; unrestricted access from primary enclosure to outdoor exercise yards large enough to achieve full stride during daylight hours; specific mental stimulation and socialization; annual dental exams; arbitrary prohibitions on number of litters bred; arbitrary prohibitions on breeding age. AKC GR has expressed concerns with the proposal.
U.S. Congress – H.R. 4211 would make numerous changes to the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) with respect to USDA pet breeder/dealer licensing requirements. Troublesome provisions include but are not limited to: Requiring breeders to apply for new licenses on an annual basis and rendering licensees subject to a new annual pre-licensing inspection. It does not provide a grace period for license extensions if the USDA is unable to inspect in a timely manner. H.R. 4211 would also require USDA to inventory all animals on a breeder/dealers’ premises and to publish to the public all breeder inventory, inspection and violation information without redaction. It would also allow for “citizen suits” (third party cause of action) to enjoin any other person or government. It has been assigned to the House Agriculture Livestock Subcommittee.
U.S. Congress – HR 3103/S. 2949 (“Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members” – PAWS) – Establishes a Veterans Administration program to establish grants for the provision of service dog to certain qualified disabled veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Grants would be provided to dogs from not-for- profit service dog trainers who meet the (ASDAC) credentials published by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. It would also develop appropriate means to measure and report on psychosocial function, therapeutic compliance, and change in reliance on prescription narcotics and psychotropic medications of patients participating in the program.