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Today, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it has adopted updates to the regulations it uses to enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  The updates, which will be officially published tomorrow, May 13, reflect public comments and finalized changes to a proposed rule that was published in March 2019.

AKC is studying these updates and will provide additional detailed information.

Click here to read USDA-APHIS’s announcement.

Summary of Changes:

  • Licensees will have to demonstrate compliance with the AWA and demonstrate that animals in their possession are adequately cared for in order to obtain a USDA license.
  • Prevents individuals and businesses whose USDA licenses were suspended or revoked from doing any regulated activities for other regulated individuals or businesses.
  • Reduces license fees and simplifies the payment process for licensees who maintain full compliance.
  • Requires any dealer, exhibitor, or research facility with dogs to maintain a written program of veterinary care (to include regular visits by an attending veterinarian at least once a year) and medical records.
  • Requires dogs to have continuously available potable water (unless restricted by an attending veterinarian).

In 2017, USDA asked the public for input on potential revisions to the AWA regulations to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure sustained compliance.  Click here to read AKC’s October 2017 comment to USDA.

After considering the more than 47,000 comments it received in response, USDA issued a proposed rule in March 2019.  Click here to read AKC’s May 2019 comment to USDA.

The final rule, which may be read at, incorporates feedback received through more than 110,600 comments on the proposed rule.

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) has begun its analysis of the final rule, and will soon provide additional information once its review has been completed.  For more information, contact AKCGR at