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. Congress – HR 6921, The Healthy Dog Importation Act, strongly supported by AKC, provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with additional tools to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs being imported into the U.S. The measure is designed to ensure that dogs entering the country are healthy and not at risk to spread dangerous diseases that could adversely impact public health. Specifically, it requires that every dog entering the US must provide the USDA with a health certificate issued by a veterinarian accredited by a USDA-recognized veterinary authority. The certificate will demonstrate that the dog has received required vaccinations and demonstrated negative test results for health issues. It also requires dogs be permanently identified and provides for reasonable fees to offset costs for increased monitoring and oversight. For more information, visit AKC GR’s key issues page: Pet Imports: Protecting Pet and Public Health.
USDA APHIS – Updates to some of the enforcement rules for the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) were finalized on May 13. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert announcing the finalization of the updates.
In 2017, USDA asked the public for input on potential revisions to the AWA regulations to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure sustained compliance. After considering the more than 47,000 comments it received in response, USDA issued a proposed rule in March 2019. AKC GR provided formal comment to both requests. The final rule, which may be read at https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2020-07837, incorporates feedback received through more than 110,600 comments on the proposed rule.
- Requiring licensees to demonstrate compliance with the AWA and demonstrate that animals in their possession are adequately cared for in order to obtain a USDA license.
- Preventing individuals and businesses whose USDA licenses were suspended or revoked from doing any regulated activities for other regulated individuals or businesses.
- Increasing licensing terms to three years, reducing license fees to a flat $120.
- Reducing license fees and simplifying the payment process for licensees who maintain full compliance.
- Requiring any dealer, exhibitor, or research facility with dogs to maintain a written program of veterinary care (to include regular visits by an attending veterinarian at least once a year) and medical records.
- Requiring dogs to have continuously available potable water (unless restricted by an attending veterinarian).
For more information, read AKC GR’s Overview of New Animal Care Rules
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. 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; and 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.
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. Although some groups continue to advocate for this particular measure, USDA regulations released in May 2020 address most of the these issues.