In reaction to the proposed changes to U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations that could seriously impact hobby breeders, the American Kennel Club is asking fanciers to familiarize themselves with the proposed changes and to sign its petition.

On June 11, 2012, Best In Show Daily reported on what the new regulations could mean for hobby breeders. The deadline for the public to make comments on the changes is July 16, 2012, so we want to remind everyone that, in addition to signing the AKC petition, you can make comments directly to the USDA/Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service online or via regular mail here:

AKC has provided, as an example, an actual comment made by a Weimaraner breeder, which can serve as a guideline for other fanciers when they write to the USDA. AKC offers this example because it “provides a good, concise comment with specific personalized information, insight and data.”

Part of the USDA’s goal in considering the changes is to close a loophole in the current law that allows people who sell puppies and dogs via Internet sites to do so without regulation. The USDA learned that buyers had received animals with contagious disease, genetic deformities and/or other illnesses, as well as with temperament issues due to poor breeding and lack of socialization. Some buyers also received puppies that were too young to be weaned.

Internet sites, because they fall under the current USDA definition of “retail pet store” and because they sell directly to the final owner, are not required to be regulated by the USDA. The proposed change would not affect any seller whose buyers physically enter their business or residence to buy a puppy. On the surface, this seems like a positive change, since most small-scale breeders are in favor of the regulation of large-scale commercial kennels and unscrupulous people who sell too young or unhealthy puppies via the Internet.

However, if the new regulations are implemented, hobby breeders will no longer be able to legally sell to anyone unless buyers go directly to their homes or kennels to purchase puppies or dogs; otherwise, the breeder would have to obtain a license under the Animal Welfare Act and allow APHIS to inspect his or her facility. AKC’s position is that requiring hobby breeders to comply with regulations designed for large-scale commercial kennels may not be appropriate. In addition, the expense required to establish commercial-level facilities as required under the AWA – which in any case are unnecessary for those who breed only the occasional litter – would likely be cost-prohibitive for the small-scale breeder.

You can learn all the details about the proposed policy changes via an informative fact sheet prepared by the USDA, or on the AKC USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page. AKC also provides easy-to-understand answers to FAQs on its website. If you have questions, the AKC Government Relations department staff can be contacted at