|Sent on:||Monday, October 3, 2011 12:29 PM|
Are you looking for signs of change? Well, it looks like the USDA may be stepping up and taking on retail sellers as well! A group in Minnesota prepared this communication that I find promising.
USDA is developing regulations for retail sales of pet animals under Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was written in 1966 - before the Internet was invented and before dogs and cats were sold online.
The Internet has been a huge issue for breeder regulation and animal protection because the AWA, as it is currently written, only licenses and regulates people who "breed dogs and cats for sale at the wholesale level and the wholesale dealers who supply these animals to pet stores, brokers, or research facilities."
"Wholesale" does not include the Internet or other retail sales. The AWA generally excludes dog and cat breeding facilities that only sell through retail - which means directly to consumers, such as through websites, through classified ads, on the telephone, at parking lots or from the kennel.
This has been referred to as the "retail loophole" in the Animal Welfare Act, and the USDA and others are working to change it.
USDA is developing a new proposed rule for retail sales
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now in the process of developing a new proposed rule that would extend the protection of the Animal Welfare Act to more dogs and cats and other pet animals that are sold at retail - including the Internet - and meet certain other requirements.
Once final language has been determined, this proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register for public comment. It is expected the proposed rule will be published soon
Background and authority
Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act in 1966. The Act is federal law.
Congress granted authority for enforcement of the AWA to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Animal Care (AC) program within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
In addition to enforcement, this Department has the authority to revise, delete or add new rules or regulations, as it sees fit for proper enforcement.
The USDA has acknowledged that the marketplace has changed since 1966. The USDA determined it has "the legislative authority to regulate Internet sales," which is why it is now taking action to revise regulations to include retail sales.
Why now? How did this come about?
In 2010, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a two-year audit it had conducted of the Animal Care program - specifically, it assessed how the AC inspected problematic breeders licensed by the USDA and how it enforced the AWA. This audit concluded that inspections were infrequent and ineffective, and, due to poor management and enforcement practices, compliance by breeders was minimal.
The OIG made specific recommendations to the USDA for improvements; one of the recommendations had to do with retail sales of pet animals.
The USDA agreed with many of the OIG's recommendations and created the APHIS' Enhanced Animal Welfare Act Enforcement Plan. This plan included action items to address the need for additional oversight of retail sales of pet animals.
How does this impact the federal P.U.P.S. bill?
The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, or "PUPS Act" (H.R. 835/S. 707) re-introduced in in 2011 to amend the Animal Welfare Act and close the "retail sales" loophole, among other actions. This bill is still necessary.
ACTION: Support the P.U.P.S. Act
H.R. 835 and S. 707, also known as the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act or the "P.U.P.S." Act, was re-introduced by federal lawmakers in early 2011 to amend the Animal Welfare Act.
This federal bill has two important features:
Another example of online sales
1. Closes retail loophole
This bill would require anyone who sells more than 50 puppies per year - "via any means of conveyance (including the Internet, telephone or newspaper)" - to be federally licensed and inspected.
2. Increases space and exercise requirements
This bill would also require that dogs in commercial breeding facilities have appropriate space and opportunity for daily exercise, including being able to reach a running stride.
These amendments would help protect more dogs and puppies in breeding facilities throughout the nation. (Note: Cats and kittens are not included within this bill.)
The PUPS Act is still necessary and needs your support. Typically, a law provides the blueprint for regulations; however, in this case, the USDA is being pro-active in changing the regulations before the Animal Welfare Act is amended by Congress. But regulations can be changed at any time by new Department personnel (now and in the future), just as laws can be changed by newly-elected legislators (now and in the future) - which is why it's important that both the law itself and regulations that enforce the law be changed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please contact your federal lawmakers and ask that they support the PUPS Act and co-sponsor the bill.