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Taking Command Newsletter

Federal Issues December 2021

AKC Government Relations continues to monitor the US Congress for issues of interest to dog owners.

Visit our 2021 Legislation Tracking map and click on “Federal Bills” 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. Congress  H.R. 4239/S. 2597, the Healthy Dog Importation Act of 2021, was introduced in the House in late June and in the Senate in early August. The measures would require owners/importers of all dogs imported into the United States to submit a valid health certificate from a veterinary agency recognized by the USDA. Certificates would demonstrate that dogs being imported are microchipped and fully vaccinated or protected against contagious diseases and pathogens of concern to the USDA, including rabies. Dogs and records would also be subject to inspection/verification upon entry. Unlike the current CDC temporary rule, this measure focuses specifically on individual health status rather than country of origin. Read more.

U.S. CongressH.R. 4350, the  National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense and is considered “must-pass” legislation. Among a myriad of other programs, H.R.4350 provides $5 million in funding to expand use of U.S. bred and raised explosives detection dogs by establishing a pilot program working with a U.S. dog registry with experience in pedigree and working dogs to facilitate presentation of at least 250 domestically-bred and raised explosives detection dogs for assessment annually; improve outreach and communications to dog breeders; and collect data on U.S. bred and raised detection dogs for academic research. The NDAA has passed the U.S. House and is expected to pass the Senate the week of December 12.

U.S. Congress  H.R. 5261, also known as the “Paws Off” act, would require that food products containing xylitol carry a warning label that specifies the toxic effects of xylitol for dogs if ingested. Xylitol, also known as birch sugar, is a commonly-used ingredient in sugar-free products such as mints, chewing gum, toothpaste. AKC strongly supports this measure and is working with the sponsor to raise awareness and support for it.  Read more

U.S. Congress – H.R. 2840/S. 1385, also known as the “Puppy Protection Act,” is the re-introduction of a bill from last congress that would establish a number of new arbitrary, one-size-fits-all requirements for USDA-licensed dog breeders. [Generally, dog breeders who maintain more than 4 intact females (cats, dogs or other small pet mammals) and transfer one or more pets sight unseen are subject to USDA licensing.] New arbitrary requirements would include, but are 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; unrestricted access from primary enclosure to outdoor exercise yards large enough to achieve full stride; specific mental stimulation and socialization; annual dental exams; prohibitions on the number of litters bred; and prohibitions on breeding age. Although the measure has not advanced, proponents have secured a large number of sponsorships on the measure.  AKC is actively working to educate about the unintended consequences associated with the arbitrary requirements in this measure.  AKC has issued multiple alerts urging breeders and club members to share their concerns with their U.S. Senators and Member of Congress.  Read more.

U.S. Congress – H.R. 5828, known as the “Pets Belong With Families Act”  was introduced earlier this month, and would prohibit public housing agencies from imposing breed restrictions on household pets owned by residents of dwelling units within public housing. AKC is a strong proponent of banning breed restrictions. AKC supports this measure and is working with sponsors to help advance it.

U.S. Congress – H.R. 3277 would make numerous changes to USDA breeder licensing requirements in the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Several troublesome provisions undermine updated licensing and enforcement requirements that were finalized less than 18 months ago. Provisions include but are not limited to: Requiring breeders to re-apply for new licenses on an annual basis and reducing the number of allowable re-inspections for new applicants. Of even greater concern, HR 3277 would also allow for “citizen suits” (third party cause of action) to enjoin any other person, government, or government agency relative to the act. This measure has been assigned to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. 

U.S. Congress – H.R. 1016 would establish an Animal Cruelty Crimes Section within the Department of Justice to enforce federal animal cruelty laws. This measure has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. 

U.S. Congress – H.R. 6100, introduced in December, would amend the Animal Welfare Act for the purpose of expanding enforcement by requiring the USDA to document any violation of the act observed during an inspection, promulgate rules to require inspectors to confiscate or humanely euthanize an animal “found to be suffering physical or psychological harm as a result of failure to comply with any provision of (the AWA)”, and establish mandatory annual inspections for licensees, among other requirements.