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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has 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 breeders. It exempts from federal licensure certain dealers and exhibitors that engage in “de minimis” (or small scale) AWA regulated activities. Specifically, exhibitors with eight (8) or fewer pet animals, small exotic or wild mammals, and domesticated farm-type animals will now be exempt from AWA licensing.  As defined under existing AWA regulations, the definition of “exhibitor” already excludes those who participate in livestock shows or dog or cat shows.

The update also expands the list of animals eligible for an existing exemption currently enjoyed by dog breeder/dealers who maintain four (4) or fewer breeding females and who sell only the offspring of those animals born and raised on his or her premises for pets or exhibition. The exemption will now also apply to dealers of pet animals, small exotic and wild mammals, and domesticated farm-type animals.

A full copy of the final rule can be found here.

The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) is closely reviewing the rule and will provide additional information if relevant in the coming days. For more information about the impact of this rule on dog owners/breeders, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or at