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Taking Command Newsletter

Federal Issues September 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. Congress – H.R. 1448/S. 613, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Soldiers for Veterans Therapy Act (PAWS for Veterans Therapy) recognizes the positive impact that service dogs can have for veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) who do not have mobility impairments. It directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a 5-year pilot program within the VA to allow veterans to gain therapy through the training of service dogs that are provided and monitored by qualified non-profit organizations. Upon completion of training by a qualified veteran, the dog may be placed with a program participant or another qualified veteran for continuing therapy. HR 1448 was passed by the House in May, by the Senate in August, and was signed by the President on August 25. Read more.

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. 

USDA/APHIS – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced on June 24 that it is re-issuing a rule to require that breeder/dealers, research facilities, intermediate handlers, carriers, and other animal enterprises subject to USDA licensing to establish emergency/contingency planning in the event of a natural or manmade disaster or other business disruption. Dog breeders subject to USDA licensing and requirements include those who maintain more than 4 intact females and sell the offspring sight unseen. A similar, final rule for USDA licensees was published in December 2012 and implemented in January 2013. However, the rule was stayed in July 2013 due to concerns about the impact the rule would have on small enterprises. The new proposed rule re-establishes emergency/contingency planning requirements similar to those first published in 2012 (77FR76814-76824).  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. 

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. 1022/S. 951 would establish 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 for dogs from not-for-profit service dog trainers who meet credentials published by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans, including passage of multiple levels of AKC CGC tests. The program 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.