Pending Legislation

Posted June 20, 2012

RE:  AWA Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions Document ID: APHIS-2011-0003-0001

The post, which is copied in full below, was written by the American Kennel Club (AKC) Chairman regarding the need for dog lovers to fight for their continued ability to keep dogs. What he says also applies to all of us who keep birds, small mammals, and other pets.

The AKC Chairman is talking about the current draconian proposal by the USDA/APHIS which seeks to regulate small home-based breeders of all kinds of warm blooded animals which are subject to regulation under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

The USDA/APHIS proposal seeks to subject small home-based breeders of most warm blooded animals destined to become pets to the requirements of the AWA. If this proposed regulation is approved, all small home-based breeders of these pets will be required to be licensed, inspected, and comply with all of the regulations under the AWA. Those regulations can be read here (164 pages):

Congress has never before intended that home-based pet breeders be subject to the AWA. In fact, home-based pet breeders have been exempt from licensing under the AWA for more than 40 years. That exemption was upheld in 2003 by the federal appellate court in Doris Day Animal League v Veneman. You can read the court's reasoning for that exemption here:

The pending USDA/APHIS proposal is being pushed by various "animal rights" proponents who don't want anyone to breed pet animals, and who don't like the court's ruling in DDAL v Veneman. These anti-breeding factions seek to overturn DDAL v Veneman by getting the USDA/APHIS to change the AWA regulations relating to home-based breeders.

While large commercial animal enterprises may be able to comply with these regulations, most small home-based breeders will not be able to comply with the AWA regulations, which including requirements for licensing and reporting to the USDA/APHIS. All licensees must also comply with the "Standards" set forth in Part 3 - Standards (scroll down in the link above to Part 3 to read those standards).

Under those regulations, an animal destined to be sold as a pet can't be bred or kept in a normal home setting.

As a sample of the unrealistic requirements that would be applied to small home-based breeders - Section 3.1. of the regulations (which presently applies to dogs and cats, but which can be later applied to other animals if the USDA decides to change the regulations) requires that

"Animal areas inside of housing facilities must be kept neat and free of clutter, including equipment, furniture, and stored material, but may contain materials actually used and necessary for cleaning the area, and fixtures or equipment necessary for proper husbandry practices and research needs."

Obviously, a home contains furniture and stored material and other equipment not related to animal care. A private home is not an acceptable licensed "animal area" under the AWA regulations. Most home-based breeders will not be able to have a separate animal facility or "animal area", and will be unable to comply with this regulation. If they can't comply with ANY ONE PART of the AWA regulations, they can not only lose their license, but can be fined.

This is only one of the many AWA regulations that will drive small home-based breeders out of the business / hobby of the responsible breeding of pet animals. There are many more reasons not to subject small home-based breeders to licensing and regulation under the AWA. Read the regulations and ask yourself if you could, or would want to, comply.

Let's face facts. "Rescues" can't supply everyone who wants a pet with the pet they want. If the breeding of pets is stopped in the US by making it too hard for responsible pet breeders to stay in business, we will be left with the spayed and neutered occupants of today's "rescues" as our source of pets. Once those spayed and neutered animals die (in about 10-15 years), where will we obtain the pets we want? Will we be only able to obtain pet animals that are imported or smuggled from other countries where the AWA does not apply? I hope not.

Responsible breeders are a necessary and reliable source of healthy pets, and they deserve our support. You can support them by opposing the proposed regulation.

A note to bird owners - While the AWA regulations for birds remain to be published and finalized, keep in mind that all of the existing AWA regulations regarding licensing, inspection, and reporting will apply to bird breeders subject to the AWA. Think about the small home-based bird breeders you know - those who have provided you with the birds you now own and love. If the exemption for small home-based breeder of warm blooded animals (including birds) is done away with, will they be able to comply with those regulations? I doubt it.

Formal comments opposing the proposed regulation are due before July 16, 2012, and must be made at the USDA/APHIS online comment portal (see link below). Everyone who owns a pet, and who wants to be able to continue to own a pet, should post a formal comment, opposing the proposal.

The proposed regulation and comment portal is here:!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

We all need to be heard, an we all need to stand up for those who breed and provide us with a source of healthy, well-bred, well-socialized, pets.

Genny Wall
Legislative Vice President
American Federation of Aviculture (AFA)
"For the Future of Birds"

"When injustice becomes law - resistance becomes duty." --- Thomas Jefferson


The AKC Chairman's Report

The full text of the AKC Chairman's report can be read below, and can also be accessed at

Chairman's Report
June 2012

-- Join With the AKC to Protect Responsible Small Breeders --

Outside the Johnson County Courthouse in Warrensburg, Missouri, stands a statue dedicated to a Foxhound named Old Drum - commemorating a famous trial held there in 1870. Old Drum was shot and killed when he wandered onto the neighboring farm. His owner’s only recourse was to sue the neighbor.

A young attorney – George Vest, who later became a United States Senator – was retained by the owner. Senator Vest’s closing argument at the trial was just 400 words, eloquently in support of the value of a dog and included this thought:

“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. He is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.”

Shortly after he spoke, the jury found for his client and awarded him the maximum allowable damages of $50 – which was a lot of money back then. In addition, Vest’s speech established the phrase “man’s best friend is his dog.”

We all know firsthand the devotion Vest spoke about – it is a large part of what makes us ardent supporters of dogs. But today, there are forces at work that do not look at dogs like we do. And there are those who think breeding should be controlled to the point of extinction.

I believe the greatest characteristic we possess is our unyielding dedication to the preservation of each of our unique breeds. It is through a combination of our responsible breeders committing to a never-ending quest to produce dogs true to type and healthy in body, mind, and spirit, coupled with all of you personally committing to always do what is best for the dogs, that has allowed the people associated with the American Kennel Club to claim the mantle of the dog’s defender from Senator Vest for the last 128 years.

 When we come together like this, we always have much to discuss – some about our sport, some about business, and some about our governance. All of those are good and valid topics that require discussion and will only serve to strengthen our organization. I believe there is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely, creatively, and courageously.

But we know our calling is for much more than the job of simply overseeing our business – it is most importantly, the responsibility we each embrace to, and for, the dogs. By recognizing that, we can together establish a beachhead of cooperation to create new initiatives that grow ownership of purebred dogs, grow our ranks of participants and supporters, and grow our voice in all things pertinent to the preservation of our breeds.

We must act quickly and with great purpose to accomplish all of that. And we must start right now.

While we are faced with many challenges, none is more immediate than the proposed federal regulation of our responsible Fancy breeders. Undoubtedly you have heard about the proposed rule changes to the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates the selling of puppies in the United States. Currently, our Fancy breeders – like you and I - are exempt, but the new regulations would treat each of us like a large-scale business. What does that mean for you? Breeders who maintain more than four females biologically capable of having puppies and who sell a puppy to just one person at a distance, would now be regulated as commercial breeders under USDA regulations. Think of the impact that would have on the preservation of our low-number breeds.

Our AKC Government Relations team met with the USDA on our behalf to get clarification regarding the language in the proposed rule that we will use to help shape our comments. We have identified dozens of critical issues that must be addressed by the USDA before they act. There are strong forces supporting these onerous regulations, making it more imperative that we create not a new balance of power, but a new understanding that the public wants the breed of dog they want, and those dedicated AKC Fancy breeders must be afforded the protection to not only survive, but prosper. Without our Fancy breeders, it will only be a matter of time before our breeds that have been preserved for hundreds of years, will become extinct. While that might be perceived as an unintended consequence of overzealous government regulation, I believe it is a quite intended consequence sought by the groups that challenge dog ownership every day.

Because we are the AKC, the USDA will pay careful attention to our comments. But we can maximize their attention through our individual support. Each of you can help achieve that. We have the opportunity now to unite our forces and clearly communicate a single, positive message for change. We have created a petition in support of the comments on the proposed regulations we will be submitting to the USDA and placed it on the AKC website. I ask that all of you join in and sign the petition. And then I ask that each of you circulate the link to every person you can think of to rally support for a most necessary outcome.

As Ronald Reagan said, you and I have a rendezvous with destiny. I believe it will be the one we make and not the one some others make for us. The most important single characteristic that defines a great organization is the desire to succeed that overwhelms all obstacles. I know we have that desire.

To those who believe we cannot come together and accomplish that, I say: “You don’t know us.”

To those who doubt our voice, I say: “You will hear us.”

And to those who love dogs as much as the jurors in Old Drum’s case, I say: “You must join us.”


Alan Kalter