The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry is proposing new rules regarding the seizure and impoundment of animals kept by commercial pet breeders and animal shelters in cases where the animals’ health, safety, or welfare is endangered or believed to be in imminent danger. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that the proposal would allow medically-unnecessary spay/neuter and other procedures to be performed on seized animals. Licensed commercial pet breeders in Oklahoma are encouraged to review the proposed new rules and contact the department with concerns.
In Oklahoma, a “commercial pet breeder” is defined as any individual, entity, association, trust, or corporation who possesses eleven or more intact female animals for the use of breeding or dealing in animals for direct or indirect sale or for exchange in return for consideration. Commercial pet breeders are required to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry.
The proposed rules would:
- Allow the department to seize and impound any animal in the possession, custody, or care of any person who violates the Commercial Pet Breeders and Animal Shelters Licensing Act if there is reason to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of an animal is endangered or if an animal is believed to be in imminent danger.
- Permit the department to obtain a court order to take custody of such animals and impound them in a safe and appropriate location.
- Grant the department seven days to petition the court for a hearing regarding the health, safety, and welfare of the animals and costs of seizure and impoundment. Notice must be provided by the entity the animals were seized from.
- Permit the court to assess costs of seizure and impoundment against the entity the animals were seized from; including, but not limited to, transportation, medical care, spay or neuter procedures, boarding, and euthanasia (if deemed medically necessary), and costs associated with transfer/adoption of the animal.
- If the court finds that the department did not have reasonable belief that the health, safety, or welfare of the animals were endangered or in imminent danger, then it may order the immediate return of the animals, with all costs to be incurred by the department.
- Not prevent euthanasia of a seized animal or providing it any therapy or procedure as deemed necessary by a licensed veterinarian.
Should the proposal be adopted as introduced, AKC is concerned that veterinarians would be allowed to perform medically-unnecessary spay/neuter procedures on seized animals. Because ownership of the animals would remain with the licensees, they should be entitled to determine whether their animals are sexually sterilized if not based on medical necessity.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Pet breeders licensed in Oklahoma are encouraged to submit written concerns to Kambi Maddy with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry at email@example.com, or by regular mail at 2800 North Lincoln Boulevard, P.O. Box 528804, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73152-8804. The department specifically requests that business entities affected by these proposed rules provide the agency with information, in dollar amounts, if possible, about the increase in the level of direct costs, indirect costs, or other costs expected to be incurred by the business entity due to compliance with the proposed rules. Comments on the proposal will be accepted through January 4, 2023.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry will also conduct a public hearing on the proposal on January 4, 2023, at 1:30PM. It will be held at 2800 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Board Room). Concerned licensees are also encouraged to attend and provide comment in person.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.