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March 21, 2019

Today, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a request for public comments on proposed updates to the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensing requirements.

After receiving more than 47,000 comments in response to a 2017 request for comments on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, USDA APHIS is proposing:

  • To amend its licensing requirements to eliminate automatic renewals. With this change, licensees would have to demonstrate compliance with the AWA and demonstrate that the animals in their possession are adequately cared for in order to obtain a license.  APHIS reports that this proposed change would also strengthen existing regulations to prevent individuals and businesses whose licenses were suspended or revoked from working for other licensees.
  • To lighten the regulatory burden for licensees who are fully compliant. APHIS is taking steps to streamline the licensing process by reducing licensing fees and simplifying the payment and collection process.
  • To require any dealer, exhibitor (defined as carnivals, circuses, animal acts, zoos, and educational exhibits) or research facility with dogs to maintain a written program for veterinary care and medical records and to make those records available to USDA upon request. The written veterinary care program would have to include regular visits by the attending veterinarian to conduct a complete physical examination of each dog not less than once a year, vaccinations for contagious and deadly diseases of dogs, and preventative care and treatment for hair coats, nails, eyes, ears, skin, and teeth.  In addition, the proposed rule would require that dogs have continual access to potable water unless restricted by an attending veterinarian.

Click here to view AKC’s October 2017 comments to USDA APHIS.

AKC Government Relations is in the process of fully reviewing the proposal, and will provide additional analysis and comment in the coming days.  For more information, view the proposal or contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or email  You may also contact the USDA directly at 301-851-3730.