Several months ago, a last-minute amendment was made to section 760 of the 2020 House Agriculture Appropriations bill that would require the USDA to make privately identifiable information about licensed breeders, including home addresses, pet inventories, and other sensitive information, available to the public online. That measure currently awaits reconciliation and attention from Senate appropriators.
This week, an amendment proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein to the Senate FY 2020 combined “minibus” Appropriation Bill would add the same troublesome provisions to the Senate version.
AKC urges you to contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and urge them to protect privacy rights by voting against any amendments to the FY 2020 Appropriations Bill that would require USDA to release privately identifiable information about pet breeders as part of the USDA’s online Animal Care Information System (ACIS).
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In July 2016, APHIS formally initiated a comprehensive review and update of ACIS, including its website, publications, and correspondence to eliminate out-of-date content, improve the information provided, and balance its commitment to transparency with applicable laws, including rules protecting personal privacy. The review and removal of this information from the APHIS’s website was prompted by litigation surrounding the publication of information on non-finally-adjudicated violations and privacy concerns. As part of this review, the APHIS/ACIS public search tool was taken off-line temporarily on February 3, 2017 and APHIS immediately began reposting inspection reports, with the appropriate redactions of personal information. It is these privacy protections that some now seek to remove.
When most people think of the term “pet dealer”, they typically think of professional pet breeding facilities where a large number of animals are kept, and hundreds are bred and sold each year. However, current USDA Animal Welfare regulations require that any individual who maintains more than a combined total of four “breeding” (unspayed) female small mammals including hamsters, gerbils, cats, dogs, etc. and transfers one sight unseen is subject to licensing as a USDA pet dealer (breeder). As a result, many individuals who live in residential areas, may keep several species of family pets in their home, ranging from the kids’ hamsters, to a barn cat or two, along with several dogs that participate in conformation or performance events — and breed only rarely, are also subject to USDA licensing.
Yesterday, the USDA released a notice of proposed modifications to its ACIS database, along with a discussion of federal privacy laws governing use of records, and the routine use of existing records. For more information about this notice, click here.
What you can do
AKC encourages you to contact key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committees listed below by phone or email. We particularly urge constituent residents of Alabama, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Oregon, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, to reach out to these Appropriators.
Please urge them to protect privacy rights by voting against any amendments to the FY 2020 Appropriations Bill that would require USDA to release privately identifiable information about pet breeders as part of the USDA’s online Animal Care Information System (ACIS).
Sen. Richard Shelby ( Alabama)
Sen. John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Sen. Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)
Sen. Susan Collins (ME)
Sen. Roy Blunt (MO)
Sen. Jerry Moran (KS)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS)
Sen. John Kennedy (LA)