The American Kennel Club (AKC) is deeply concerned about language in the recently-passed House version of the FY 2023 Agricultural Appropriations bill that would reduce opportunities for collaboration and education between USDA and breeders regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). We urge you to take action by contacting your members of the U.S. Senate to express your concerns. Scroll down to take action.
The House language would reduce APHIS interaction with licensees to enforcement actions only, and mandate an end to education and collaborative approaches that help protect animal welfare, including teachable moments. It also appears to prevent inspectors from working with licensees to improve the condition of their facilities or treatment of the animals before enforcement, thereby allowing minor non-compliances to potentially deteriorate to until they become welfare issues.
This signals a significant change in the regulatory approach. It would break a positive connection that drives continuous improvement in shared commitment to animal welfare, and replace it with a regulatory “gotcha” culture, ultimately undermining cooperative approaches to assuring animal welfare.
Specifically, Sec. 755 of the House bill would prohibit funding to pay for salaries or expenses of personnel to implement any activities related to: (a) The permitting of non-recording of observed violations of the AWA or its regulations on official inspection reports; or (b) The prioritizing of education or collaborative approaches to violations or noncompliance ahead of enforcement under the AWA.
AKC strongly supports improved enforcement of the AWA. However, the House Appropriations language is overly broad, contrary to the best interests of the animal care, and useless to increasing compliance with the AWA. We believe that preventing inspectors from conveying questions and concerns or educating regulated entities will be detrimental to the health and well-being of animals in the regulated community.
Instead of reducing the educational tools available to USDA’s APHIS Animal Care Division and its inspectors, we urge Appropriators to increase funding to improve enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, with a portion of those funds to be used to improve education and outreach for licensees in keeping with the division’s mission to assure animal welfare.
Read coalition letter to Congressional appropriations leadership, also signed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, National Animal Interest Alliance, National Association of Biomedical Research, the Sportsmen’s Alliance, Pet Advocacy Network, Zoological Association of America, and others.
Take Action Today!
Contact your Senators, let them know you are a constituent, and respectfully ask them:
- To oppose language in appropriations or other bills, such as in section 755 of the FY 2023 House Appropriations bill, which would prohibit use of funds for crucial educational or collaborative activities, including teachable moments, which help protect regulated animals and prevent violations of animal welfare.
- To support additional funding for USDA for enforcement of the AWA, with a portion of those funds used to improve education and outreach for licensees. This directly benefits the wellbeing of licensees’ animals, in both the short- and long-term.
To find out who represents your state in the U.S. Senate, click here and select your state from the menu at the top of the page.
AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates and calls to action regarding this important federal issue. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.