[Friday, May 11, 2012]


Early next week, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be releasing for public comment a new interpretation of portions of existing regulations for the federal Animal Welfare Act.

In particular, two proposed changes may have a potentially significant impact on AKC breeders:

Current AWA regulations do not require licensing of “retail pet stores”. The newly proposed rule will significantly narrow the definition of retail pet stores so that: “Retail pet store means any outlet a place of business or residence that each buyer physically enters in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase …”

This rescinds the “retail pet store” status/protection for those who engage in internet sales. Breeders who engage in internet-only or other sales without allowing the buyer to personally observe the puppy ahead of purchase will be subject to current USDA commercial breeder licensing and inspections. However, breeders who sell pets to their customers face-to-face will now qualify as “retail pet stores” for the purpose of remaining exempt from USDA regulations.

The proposed new rule also increases the exception for regulation as a commercial breeder for those who maintain up to four breeding female dogs on their premises if person sells only the offspring born and raised on the premises for use as pets or exhibition (regardless of whether those animals are sold at retail or wholesale).

The American Kennel Club will review the proposal, provide comment after fully analyzing the impacts of the proposed rule, and will report all developments as they warrant.

For more information, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_welfare/2012/retail_pets_faq.pdf for a fact sheet prepared by USDA/APHIS regarding the proposed rule change and http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2012/05/pdf/docket_APHIS_2011_0003.pdf for a preliminary copy of the proposal.