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Today, the American Kennel Club (AKC) submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) regarding a draft five-year strategic plan for the agency. Comments from stakeholders on the framework of the draft plan will assist APHIS, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), in finalizing the plan. A final version of the plan is expected to be published this fall.

AKC’s comment highlights three areas of concerns:

Enforcement – Strong enforcement of the AWA is vital to protecting both animal welfare and ensuring that responsible breeders subject to the act can continue to operate and be licensed subject to a reasonable system of national standards. AKC supports additional appropriations to support enforcement activities and encourage its readoption of “teachable moments” for licensees.

Pet ImportsAKC recognizes the value of importing breeding stock from overseas, and ensuring that people may travel with their pets with a minimum of disruption; but is also greatly concerned about increasing documented incidences of the importation of unhealthy, random-source pets into the United States, particularly for transfer, where public and pet health may be inadequately protected. We support continued efforts to ensure that all dogs imported in the U.S. are fully immunized; free of infection, parasites, and contagious diseases; and are individually certified as such by a qualified veterinarian. We also encourage greater collaboration between USDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Customs and Border Protection.

Definition of Breeding Female – AKC has long been concerned with the lack of a clear definition of “breeding female” in AWA regulations. Currently, USDA appears to define “breeding female” as “capacity to breed” and bases the assessment on a case-by-case individual inspection. This is vague, and leaves breeders uncertain of which animals may be considered non-breeding animals. AKC continues to encourage USDA APHIS to consider specifically defining “breeding female” as one that is in whelp or has delivered live offspring in the past three years.

Click here to view AKC’s full comment to USDA APHIS.

AKC Government Relations (GR) Regulatory Resources Center contains updates and resources on regulations and other administrative actions that impact dog breeders. For more information on USDA APHIS regulations, contact AKC GR at