In addition to tracking and responding to legislative proposals, AKC Government Relations addresses dog-related regulatory proposals from the U.S. federal government, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) is currently tracking approximately 750 regulatory proposals, most which concern land use/hunting regulations and those governing the practice of veterinary medicine. Click the link below to read highlights from this past month.
AKC GR’s Regulatory Resource Center provides updates on our federal and state regulatory work that may impact dog owners. Check it out at www.cqrcengage.com/akc.org/regcenter.
Regulations Highlights January 2021
Here are some highlights of state-level regulatory issues AKC GR has recently addressed. Visit AKC’s Regulatory Resource Center for more information on these and other significant regulatory issues addressed by AKC Government Relations.
- Federal — US Department of Transportation – In early December 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced final revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations pertaining to the transportation of service animals. The final rule defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The changes also clarify that emotional support animals (ESAs), comfort animals, companionship animals, animals being trained to be service animals, and species other than dogs are not considered to be “service animals”. Instead, airlines may recognize and accommodate ESAs as pets. The DOT rules also clarify that airlines are prohibited from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed. Airlines may continue to assess each animal individually to determine whether it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
- Federal – U.S. Department of Agriculture – On January 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the posting of its fiscal year 2020 summary enforcement data. This data summarizes enforcement efforts on animal welfare from APHIS’ Investigative and Enforcement Services division, which investigates alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and its regulations.
APHIS Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) opened 30 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) cases; issued four pre-litigation settlement agreements resulting in the collection of $115,500 in stipulated penalties; and obtained 24 administrative orders assessing $509,375 in civil penalties and suspending or revoking six AWA licenses.
In one case, APHIS entered into a Consent Decision and Order relating to multiple violations of the AWA, resulting in a $7,500 civil penalty and a revocation of the respondent’s AWA license. In another case, APHIS obtained an administrative order against an individual relating to multiple alleged AWA violations, assessing a $340,000 civil penalty and revoking the respondent’s AWA license. APHIS also negotiated several pre-litigation settlement agreements, including one involving a research facility that agreed to the assessment of a $74,000 civil penalty to resolve multiple alleged AWA violations.
The complete Fiscal Year 2020 enforcement summary is available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/business-services/ies.
Copies of enforcement records (such as initial decision and orders, default decisions, consent decisions, and administrative complaints) are available on the Animal Welfare Enforcement Actions Website.
- Texas – Sunset Advisory Commission staff has recommended that the Texas Licensed Breeders Program be eliminated. Staff findings cite unenforceable requirements and administrative costs that exceed program revenues. The Commission was formally presented the recommendation on December 8. One commission member has proposed that the Licensed Breeders Program be maintained. The Sunset Advisory Commission is expected to make a decision regarding the Licensed Breeders Program on January 13. AKC GR has hosted a virtual meeting for Texas clubs and is working with the Responsible Pet Owner’s Alliance in preparation for the 2021 legislative session. Click here to read AKC’s comments to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.
- Texas – Last year, Governor Abbott signed SB 1531 into law, which added pleas of “no contest” to animal cruelty charges as a ground for denying or refusing to renew a breeder license under Texas’ Dog or Cat Breeders Act. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) recently proposed amendments to the state’s Dog or Cat Breeders Act regulations to implement SB 1531. The proposal also combines two rule subsections that are virtually identical and makes technical changes. AKC GR is monitoring this issue for developments.