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USDA Final Rule Changes and Implications for Breeders
Posted on 09/11/2013 in DED News.

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News Release

USDA Final Rule Changes and Implications for Breeders
For more information or questions, e-mail: doglaw@ukcdogs.com.

On September 10, 2013, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS announced the final rule changes to the Animal Welfare Act that will have far-reaching implications for most dog breeders. The proposed rule changes to the AWA were published in May of 2012 and UKC urged all dog owners at that time to take advantage of the public comment period. So many comments were received on the rule changes that the deadline was extended-over 200,000 comments were submitted. These rule changes are a result of the proposed rules and subsequent public comment period. For a further detailed history and background, see the UKC article that covered this issue last year: http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/News/NowItstheFedsTurn06232012115935AM

Under the rule change, breeders that have 5 or more breeding females that would normally be exempted under the AWA but make even ONE sale “sight unseen” or ship a puppy, will now have to become USDA licensed and inspected and meet all of the USDA operational standards. Working dogs are exempted. Kennels with 4 or less breeding females are also exempted and may also now continue to ship and sell “sight unseen,” which is a change from the rules proposed last summer. What has not changed is the issue that definitions and interpretations of some important terms are still very unclear. “Breeding female” is not defined, and may be interpreted as any intact female, whether or not they are actually being used for breeding. The rule does not state what dogs qualify as “working dogs.” While it has been explained by APHIS representatives as basically any dogs besides pets, it is not clarified in the rules. It becomes problematic for kennels that sell all-purpose dogs and therefore sell a mix of working AND pet dogs. As the rule is unclear, these kinds of kennels cannot be sure whether or not they fall under the purview of the AWA. APHIS has published a Q and A that attempts to explain the rule changes: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_welfare/2013/faq_retail_pets_final_rule.pdf

UKC commends the idea and intent behind the rule changes. UKC abhors any and all forms of animal abuse; in fact, UKC has a zero tolerance policy and any dog owner found guilty of a crime involving dogs is automatically barred from UKC indefinitely. However, these rule changes are not the best means to that end. Beyond all of these issues and unintended consequences and problems with the definitions is the complete impossibility of enforcement. The USDA originally estimated it would bring in only 1,500 new licenses and has now expanded that estimation to over 4,000. The rule also includes other species as well; it is quite simply an unrealistic underestimate. With only approximately 120 inspectors nationwide, the USDA can hardly inspect what is already covered under the AWA and Horse Protection Act. Unless the USDA is going to hire thousands of inspectors, the rule cannot be enforced. State and local neglect and anti-cruelty laws are more than sufficient to address issues that arise with care and conditions and in fact, are even more punishing with criminal penalties in most states than the license violations and fines that result from AWA violations. The rule will go into effect 60 days after official publication, which is expected by the end of this week. UKC will continue to monitor this rule change and will alert dog owners to any changes or other implications that may arise.

Established in 1898, the United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. More than 60 percent of its 15,500 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. United Kennel Club prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events. To find out more about registration and events, call or visit our website. Phone: (269) 343-9020; www.ukcdogs.com.

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