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Federal Issues December 2020

Federal Issues December 2020

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:

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: 

COVID-19 –The AKC Government Relations team has been active in COVID -19 policy issues impacting AKC and dog owners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This ranges from advocacy to ensure that dog owners continue to be able to access pet supplies and essential services, to providing information on how AKC can stay open during the pandemic, liability information, information for dog related businesses on how to seek essential business status or qualify for federal relief;  and advocacy for federal relief assistance for non-political non-profit organizations, including clubs suffering financial setbacks due to COVID.  The latest relief package is set for a vote in Congress on Dec. 21. Among many other provisions, it is expected to provide federal assistance to a limited number of 501 (c) 6  (association) non-profits, direct relief to individuals, and extension of certain small business grants and loans. More information will be made available at the AKC Legislative Action Center’s COVID-19 resources page as it becomes available. The page is updated regularly with the information on state regulations and relief impacting dog owners and dog businesses. It also provides information on and tips on what club members and dog owners can do from home to continue being effective advocates.   

COVID-19 Liability – GR is continuing to advocate for federal and state laws to limit liability for clubs and events related to COVID-19 transmission when events are held in compliance with CDC and other jurisdictional health and safety recommendations.  Information about these efforts, the status of various proposals, a sample letter for lawmakers, and other information on how clubs/individuals can get involved is available on the AKC Legislative Action Center COVID-19 Liability key issue page at

US Department of Transportation – In early December, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced final revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations pertaining to the transportation of service animals. The final rule defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  The changes also clarify that emotional support animals (ESAs), comfort animals, companionship animals, animals being trained to be service animals, and species other than dogs are not considered to be “service animals”.  Instead, airlines may recognize and accommodate ESAs as pets.  The DOT rules also clarify that airlines are prohibited from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed.  Airlines may continue to assess each animal individually to determine whether it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. 

U.S. Congress – H.R. 2442/ S.4757 (the “Puppy Protection Act”) seeks to establish new requirements for USDA licensed pet breeders. This includes but is not limited to: completely solid flooring; mandated primary enclosure height such that a dog can stand on its hind legs and not touch the enclosure roof; new space requirements; mandated feeding twice daily; and arbitrary prohibitions on a number of litters bred and breeding age.  Neither bill is currently scheduled for a hearing.  AKC GR has alerted all clubs and asked them to contact their members of Congress to express concerns about these arbitrary, one-size fits all federal mandates. AKC GR has alerted all clubs and asked them to contact their members of Congress to express concerns about these arbitrary, one-size fits all federal mandates 

U.S. Congress –  H.R. 7617.  Fiscal 2021 Defense of Department (DoD) Appropriations. This measure, which has passed both houses and is awaiting the president’s signature, contains language to require the Veterinary Service of the DoD to establish a standardized, non-breed-specific policy to regulate dangerous dogs in military communities. AKC has long advocated for these changes to military housing policy. Implementing regulations would emphasize: non-breed specific dangerous dog behavior and chronically irresponsible owners; enforcement of animal control regulations such as leash laws/stray animal control policies; promotion and communication of resources for spay/neuter and investment in community educational initiatives.  

U.S. Congress – H.R. 6921 H.R. 6921 The Healthy Dog Importation Act, strongly supported by AKC, provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with additional tools to ensure that dogs entering the country are healthy and not at risk to spread dangerous diseases that could adversely impact public health.  Every dog entering the U.S. must provide the USDA with a health certificate issued by a veterinarian accredited by a USDA-recognized veterinary authority that demonstrates required vaccinations negative test results for health issues. It also requires dogs be permanently identified and provides fees to offset costs for increased monitoring and oversight. For more information, visit AKC GR’s key issues page

U.S. Congress – H.R. 5715 would expand federal regulation of pet sellers under the 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, and the number of animals sold in previous years.  It 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. Congress – H.R. 4211 would make numerous changes to USDA pet breeder/dealer licensing requirements. Provisions include: Requiring breeders to apply for new licenses on an annual basis and 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. It requires USDA to inventory all animals on a breeders’ premises and to publish 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 establishes a Veterans Administration program to establish grants to provide service dogs 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 program participants.