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In August, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a public request for comment on potential changes to the Animal Welfare Act’s (AWA) licensing requirements.  Based in part on the information it hopes to receive, APHIS may implement changes to “better promote sustained compliance with the AWA, reduce licensing fees and burdens, and strengthen existing safeguards that prevent individuals and businesses who are unfit to hold a license from obtaining a licensing or working with regulated animals.”

As other organizations have petitioned USDA-APHIS to make potentially onerous changes to the regulations impacting those regulated under the AWA, this opportunity to comment is an important opportunity for individuals to shape potential changes to federal regulations.  

APHIS is interested in quality feedback on a variety of possible changes, including:

  • Establishing a firm expiration date for licenses, after which the licensee would again be required to affirmatively demonstrate compliance before obtaining another license;
  • Specifying procedures to ensure licensees have ample time to apply for licenses and demonstrate compliance prior to the expiration of an existing license;
  • Eliminating the application fee and annual license fee and assessing reasonable fees only for licenses issued;
  • Requiring license applicants to disclose any animal cruelty convictions or other violations of Federal, State, or local laws or regulations pertaining to animals;
  • With respect to pre-licensing inspections, reducing from three to two the number of opportunities an applicant has to correct deficiencies and take corrective measures before the applicant forfeits his or her application and fee.

The full list of potential changes can be viewed here.  Impacted individuals may provide comments directly to the USDA through October 23, 2017, either online at or in writing at: Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

The AKC will also provide a response to USDA based on its experience and expertise in impacted areas. In an effort to provide a unified response that appropriately reflects modern husbandry and welfare practices, as well as the input of impacted dog owners and breeders, AKC welcomes comments from interested and potentially affected dog owners, breeders, rescues or other groups potentially impacted by the proposed rulemaking.  AKC will incorporate substantive feedback and data into its comments to USDA.  AKC requests information be provided by October 1, 2017 Feedback may be provided online via AKC GR’s online form (powered by Google Forms, Google account required to use), or via email at

AKC thanks you for your attention to this important matter, and for participating in its effort to collect data on these important issues.  Feedback provided to AKC and to USDA will help shape the future of Animal Welfare Act regulations.  For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or at