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Federal Issues October 2019

Federal Issues October 2019

From Our Nation’s Capitol

AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2019 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 – H.R. 724/ S.479 (the PACT Act)  provides specific federal bans for a class of obscene videos that involve the crushing of animals as well as the underlying acts of cruelty depicted in such videos.  The House passed H.R. 724 by unanimous consent on October 24. This measure has been introduced in several previous sessions but had not previously advanced as the cruel act of animal crushing and videos of it are already considered a felony under existing federal statute (18 U.S.C. 48).

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Congress – The WOOF Act, H.R. 1002, seeks to prohibit a relative of a dealer, exhibitor, or licensee whose license has been revoked by the USDA from obtaining a license for the same facility and assuming operation of that enterprise.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, government, or government H.R. 4211 measure has been assigned to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. 

U.S. Congress H.R. 3164 provides appropriations for FY 2020 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and related agencies and programs.  As reported out of the Full House appropriations committee, this massive bill includes new language (sec 760)  that would require  APHIS to restore non-redacted versions of USDA breeder inspection reports, including inventories, and personally identifiable information including addresses. Some of this information existed on the USDA website prior to 2017 but was removed, redacted and replaced due to privacy concerns. AKC believes that this additional personal information is not necessary for assuring animal welfare and could dampen efforts to improve licensing compliance and the welfare oversee of animals in licensed facilities. Additionally, the Managers report for this measure recommends discontinuing option for USDA/ APHIS inspectors to provide “teachable moments” to help otherwise compliant breeders improve operations in areas of non-compliance that do not impact the health and welfare of animals. AKC believes that “teachable moments” helps build expertise among licensees while improving overall operations and improving transparency between USDA and those it licenses.  Discontinuing “teachable moments” will reduce transparency and opportunities for licensees to improve their operations.