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Today, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published proposed updates to its regulations to make them consistent with existing requirements under the federal Animal Welfare Act AWA). These rules do not represent a change in current USDA policy regarding licensing.

The proposed updates (known as a “proposed rule”) reflect changes to the AWA that were enacted in early 2014 as part of the 2013 federal agricultural authorization act.  The new regulatory language provides minor adjustments that expand thresholds for exemption from USDA licensing for animal dealer and exhibitor enterprises whose business activities are considered by USDA to be de minimis.  

De minimis activities include those that are of a sufficiently small size or undertaken infrequently by owners of household pets that reside exclusively with the owner and generate less than a substantial portion of income.  The de minimis exemption also applies to any person who maintains four or fewer female dogs and/or other covered animals and who sells, at retail or wholesale, only those animals’ offspring, which were born on the person’s premises. 

Under the AWA, most dog dealer or exhibitor activities considered de minimis are already exempted from licensing based on exemptions for persons who maintain four or fewer breeding female dogs and/or other covered animals and who sell, at retail or wholesale, only those animals’ offspring, which were born on the person’s premises.  

The proposed de minimis exemptions are in line with current regulations that exempt from licensing requirements any person who maintains four or fewer breeding female dogs and/or other covered animals and who sells only the offspring of those animals born and raised on his or her premises, for pets or exhibition.  (As defined, “exhibitions” specifically exclude purebred dog and cat shows.)  Entities already exempted under current licensing exemptions—including under the “retail pet store” rule that exempts those who sell puppies only in face-to-face transactions—from federal regulations—would also not be affected by the proposed de minimis exemption.   

Click here to read USDA/APHIS’s press release announcing proposed changes to federal Animal Welfare Act regulations. 

Click here to read USDA/APHIS’s FAQ on Thresholds for De Minimis Activity and Exemptions From Licensing.

Click here to read the background and text of the proposed changes, including information on how to comment on this proposal.

Click here to read AKC’s Does the (2013) USDA Rule Affect Me to learn about the most common exemptions from USDA breeder/dealer licensing. If you have questions about whether you may qualify for an exemption under the de minimis definition contact the APHIS Animal Care office in your region.  

AKC Government Relations is currently drafting formal comments on the proposal, and will provide additional information once those comments have been finalized.  For more information on USDA/APHIS’s proposed changes, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.  

Today, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published proposed updates to its regulations to make them consistent with existing requirements under the federal Animal Welfare Act AWA). These rules do not represent a change in current USDA policy regarding licensing.

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