Federal Regulatory Update – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late January that it is extending current requirements for the import of live dogs from countries at high risk for rabies. These requirements had been due to expire January 31, 2023. Under current requirements established in June 2022 all categories of importers are eligible to import dogs from high-risk counties. Commercially imported dogs are required to enter the U.S. at a port of entry with a live animal care facility. CDC’s list of approved ports of entry includes 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station for imported dogs with a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit. Importers with dogs that are at least six months old, are microchipped, and have a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate may enter the U.S. without a CDC Dog Import Permit at one of the 18 approved airports provided the dog appears healthy upon arrival. For more information visit www.cdc.gov.
USDA APHIS/Regulatory – The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) has announced future proposed changes to the federal Animal Welfare Act’s (AWA) rules and standards, including adding regulatory requirements to address species-specific environmental enrichment for all regulated animals, including dogs. Currently, AWA rules only contain environmental enrichment requirements for non-human primates and marine mammals. APHIS is considering expanding those requirements to better address the needs of species known to exist in social groups; species-specific feeding, foraging, and food acquisition behaviors; and enclosure space, lighting, and design that allow for species-specific behaviors. In its announcement, APHIS notes that because licensees would be able to use their own expertise to determine the specific enrichment measures to implement, the future regulations could be implemented on an individual basis. Under this “performance standard” approach, licensees would be required to develop and implement a written plan specifying measures they would take to provide for environmental enrichment, which would have to be approved by an attending veterinarian. Licensees would be required to monitor the plan on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance and to make adjustments if needed.
USDA APHIS/Regulatory – In late April, USDA APHIS published a new five-year strategic plan. The plan incorporates stakeholder feedback, which AKC provided in July 2022, and includes six strategic goals, including promoting the welfare of animals. A separate, more controversial document also notes 10 societal, environmental, and technological trends and future scenarios that APHIS must be prepared to navigate. Under the heading of Shifting Values, it notes that, “many will agree that livestock and wildlife should be provided the same rights as domesticated pets.” AKC is alarmed by APHIS’ controversial use of “rights” language when referring to animals. For centuries, owners have been able to protect the animals they love because lawmakers and the courts have legally treated animals—whether livestock or pets—not as family members, but as property. This traditional treatment gives owners opportunities to decide the best ways to keep their dogs and for the reasons they want to keep them, whether as pets, as competition dogs, or as part of a responsible breeding program. Rights are, and should continue to be, reserved exclusively for people. AKC will continue to work with the members of Congress and USDA APHIS to ensure that laws and regulations impacting dogs and their owners and breeders remain reasonable, enforceable, and fair.