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Taking Command June 2018

Federal Issues June 2018

The AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2018 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. 4577 establishes a working group to develop a domestic canine breeding network to produce high quality explosives detection canines. AKC provided assistance with drafting this measure and is working with members of Congress to advance it. The measure has passed the House, and has been assigned to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

U.S. Congress  – The House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill authorize federal funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees implementation of the federal Animal Welfare Act and other federal animal-related regulations programs.  AKC and NAIA advocated for language in the bills to require the government to track the number of dogs being imported into the United States and to improve data and protocols regarding the health and sourcing of animals being imported into the U.S. for resale as pets.  Similar language has been incorporated into both bills. The bills have passed their respective chambers and will now move to conference committee for reconciliation.

U.S. Congress – The Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS – H.R. 909/S. 322) would add federal protections for the pets of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. It would also create a program to award grants to eligible entities to aid victims of crimes related to stalking and domestic violence. The AKC supports this measure.

U.S. Congress –The Help Extract Animals from Red Tape Act (H.R. 398) was first introduced in 2016. The measure would have allowed the federal government to charge individuals whose animals were seized under alleged violations of federal law for the cost of boarding and care of their animals pending adjudication of the case.  Owners would have been liable for costs and forfeiture of their animals, even if they were ultimately found not guilty of those violations. AKC worked with the primary sponsor to change the proposal into a reasonable measure that provides that only those ultimately found guilty of violations would be subject to forfeiture and reimbursing the costs of care for the animals. The measure has been referred to House Judiciary Committee.

U.S. Congress – HR 2327, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members (PAWS) Act 2017 establishes a pilot program to provide grants to eligible organizations to provide specially-trained service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  AKC supports these measures, which also incorporate advanced AKC CGC programs in preliminary training for service dogs.

U.S. CongressS. 2738 would amend federal law to require air passengers with service animals to adhere to a standard of service animal behavior training.

U.S. Congress  HR 4693 would expand a variety of specific requirements, including new kennel engineering standards, for pet breeders subject to USDA licensing. New requirements include: new flooring standards, enclosure sizes, constant access to water and exercise yards and a variety of other requirements. While some proposed changes reflect good animal husbandry practices, others are arbitrary, unnecessary, or potentially harmful to some animals. The bill has been assigned to the Agriculture Committee.

Federal Regulations – On June 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a final rule that updates animal welfare regulations to implement a 2014 amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). These changes will allow APHIS, “to more effectively use its resources while ensuring the humane treatment of regulated animals under the AWA.” The updated regulations will have little impact on the majority of dog owners/breeders.

Federal Regulations – In May, USDA-APHIS announced that it will not establish new criteria for recognizing third-party inspection and certification programs when determining APHIS’ own inspection frequency under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).