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The American Kennel Club (AKC®), a not-for-profit organization, the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, lauds the draft language released by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee for the 2024 Farm Bill – the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. This must-pass bill reauthorizes U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs for five years and typically serves as a vehicle to address federal priorities in the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“We appreciate the tireless and bi-partisan efforts of House Agriculture Chairman G.T. Thompson and his staff in presenting a bill that not only supports U.S. Agriculture needs, but also supports important priorities for dog enthusiasts including canine health, welfare and the rights of responsible dog owners,” said Dennis B. Sprung, AKC President and CEO.

Dog-related highlights of the bill’s base text include:

  • Enhanced protections for dogs under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including expanded resources for educational outreach.
  • Additional resources for USDA to better enforce the AWA, including reporting to Congress on existing enforcement with recommendations for improving enforcement.
  • Animal Care requirements: Clarifications that visual dental examination should be included in existing annual veterinary requirements.
  • Improves USDA response related to any dogs found in a state of “unrelieved suffering” by requiring better and more timely notification of state and local authorities if an inspector finds that dogs are being kept in unacceptable conditions.
  • Expands USDA’s electronic health documentation requirements for pets entering the United States. This reflects language in the Healthy Dog Importation Act (HR 1184) by requiring electronic records documentation on dogs prior to their importation that confirms the dog is in good health; microchipped; has received all necessary vaccination and parasite treatments, demonstrated negative test results, and has a health certificate from an accredited veterinarian; and in the case of a dog intended for transfer, is at least 6 months old. Exceptions are provided for dogs that are personal pets of United States origin returning to the United States; United States military working dogs; for research purposes; and coming to the United States solely for veterinary treatment; among several others.
  • Provides funding for transitional shelters for victims of domestic violence that allow victims to shelter with a pet. This measure reflects efforts privately supported by the AKC Humane Fund that ensure that concern for a pet left behind does not prevent a victim from seeking needed safety and shelter.
  • Codifies and provides permanent funding for USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan Georgia, which trains specially selected dogs (and their handlers) to identify invasive pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture. The measure, previously known as the “Beagle Brigade Act” also grants authority to create additional training facilities and an off-site training program.

The Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 will be marked up by the House Agriculture Committee on May 23. AKC and its millions of constituents urge the U.S. House Agriculture Committee to advance these positive initiatives without amendment.