Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup (Southeast Michigan) Message Board › NEW RULES: Q&A Fact Sheet from the USDA
75 dogs seized from Roxanne Webster's
home in 2010 (Livingston County)
Before you submit your comments to the USDA, you may want to read the Q&A Fact Sheet they published last week which explains away many of the rumors and falsehoods that are being circulated about the rule’s effects (rumors such as “breeders won’t be able to keep dogs in their homes anymore,” “shelter adoption events would be affected,” etc)
I am picturing sellers setting up shop at their friends and family’s residences so the public never sees the ‘puppy farm’ or in Webster's case 'the furnace room, living room, and kitchen!'.
Again, we support this new rule 100%.
Animal Care July 2012
Questions and Answers:
Proposed Rule – Retail Pet Sales
Q. What is APHIS proposing?
A. APHIS is proposing to revise its definition of
“retail pet store” to close a loophole that has in
some cases threatened the health of pets sold
sight unseen over the Internet and via phone- and
mail-based businesses. Under the current definition
of “retail pet store,” which was developed over 40
years ago and predates the Internet, some breeders
selling pets are taking advantage of a loophole that
improperly exempts them from meeting the basic
requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The
proposed rule will close this loophole, ensuring that
animals sold over the Internet and via phone- and
mail-based businesses are better monitored for their
overall health and humane treatment.
The proposal will restore the definition to its
original intent so that it limits the retail pet store
exemption to only those places of business and
• that buyers physically enter to observe the
animals available for sale prior to purchase and/
or to take custody of the animals after purchase,
• where only the following animals are sold or
offered for sale at retail for use as pets: Dogs,
cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils,
rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets,
domestic farm animals, birds, and coldblooded
APHIS is also proposing to increase the number
of breeding females from three to four that small
hobby breeders of dogs, cats, and small exotic or
wild mammals can own and still be exempt from
licensing requirements. To meet the exemption
requirements, these breeders can only sell the
offspring of the breeding females that were born and
raised on their premises, and sold for only pets or
Q. Why does APHIS want to change this rule?
A. This proposed rule is intended to help ensure the
health and well-being of animals sold at retail for use
as pets. The current definition of “retail pet store” was
written in the 1970s to exempt from federal regulation
traditional pet stores and other facilities whose
animals are subject to a certain degree of oversight
from customers who enter a place of business or
residence to observe the animals available for sale
prior to purchase or to take custody of the animals
Today, the Internet allows retailers to sell animals
directly to the public sight-unseen. Because the
current definition is broadly defined, those retailers
continue to qualify for exemption, even though they
don’t meet the intent of the definition. As a result,
some buyers have received animals with health
issues. APHIS wants to restore the original intent
of the AWA and modernize its regulations to reflect
today’s business practices.
The change to the licensing exemption for small
hobby breeders of dogs, cats, and small exotic or
wild mammals will increase the number of breeding
females from three to four. This will allow us to focus
more on the facilities that present the greatest risk of
noncompliance with the regulations.
Q. How will this affect retail pet stores?
A. This proposed rule would not affect traditional
retail pet stores, breeders, and other dealers
whose buyers physically enter a place of business
or residence to observe the animals available for
sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the
animals after purchase. They will continue to be
exempt from licensing and inspection under the AWA.
However, they will still be subject to any applicable
individual state and county regulations.
Q. How will this affect Internet, phone- and mail
A. The proposal will affect these retailers if they
currently sell their pet animals to buyers sight-unseen.
Pet animal retailers will have a choice. They can
either sell their animals to buyers who physically
enter a place of business or residence to observe
the animals available for sale prior to purchase or to
take custody of the animals after purchase, or they
can obtain a license under the AWA and allow APHIS
inspectors to inspect their facility.
Q. How will this affect retailers who sell their
animals to buyers in face-to-face transactions at a
location other than their own premises?
A. The proposed rule is designed to close a loophole
in the current regulations that allows pet animals to be
sold sight-unseen, without any oversight by the public
or APHIS. Pet animal retailers who sell their animals
to their customers in face-to-face transactions at a
location other than their own premises are subject to
some degree of public oversight and therefore are not
the focus of this proposed rule and would not need to
obtain a license.
Q. How would this proposal affect rescue groups
that participate in off-site adoption events?
A. As mentioned above, persons who engage in
face-to-face transactions at a location other than their
premises, which include off-site adoption events,
are subject to some degree of public oversight and
therefore are not the focus of this proposed rule and
would not need to obtain a license.
Q. What does this mean for State, county, or city
owned and operated pounds and shelters, as well
as humane societies and other organizations that
contract with those jurisdictions?
A. This proposed rule would have no effect on State,
county, or city owned and operated pounds and
shelters, or humane societies and other organizations
that contract with those jurisdictions. These public
agencies are exempt from regulation under the AWA.
Q. How will the proposed rule affect retail breeders
who sell their dogs for use as working dogs?
A. The proposed rule would not change current
AWA requirements for retail breeders of working
dogs. Retail breeders who sell their dogs only for use
as working dogs are not required to obtain an AWA
Q. What will this mean for consumers?
A. The changes will help ensure the welfare of
animals sold to consumers through retail channels.
Under the proposed rule, no dog or other pet animal
will be sold at retail without either public or APHIS
oversight, except those exempt from licensing and/or
not otherwise regulated under the AWA.
Q. Why are you proposing to raise the threshold of
breeding females from three to four?
A. Under the current AWA regulations, breeders who
own three or fewer breeding females (dogs, cats, or
small exotic or wild mammals) are considered hobby
breeders and exempt from APHIS oversight. Based
on a recent review of compliance among currently
regulated facilities, we believe that a facility that
maintains four breeding females, one more than the
current limit of three, can be considered a low-risk
facility and exempt from regulation even if they sell
their animals sight-unseen. This would allow us to
continue to concentrate our regulatory resources
on those facilities that present the greatest risk of
noncompliance and thereby ensure the welfare of
Q. How will the proposed four breeding female
rule apply to breeders with a partial ownership
interest in a number of breeding animals? Would
they be considered as “acting in concert” with
their partners for purposes of this exemption?
A. The restriction on individuals “acting in concert”
in the current and proposed AWA regulations is
designed to prevent a loophole in the regulations. In
the past, some individuals have contended they were
not required to have a license even when they kept
more than three breeding females (dogs, cats, or small
exotic or wild mammals) on the same premises as long
as no single member of the household owned more
than three. However, when several members of the
same household (or other persons acting in concert)
maintain breeding females on the same premises
such that the number of breeding females in total is
more than three (or four under the proposed rule), the
activities are no longer exempt and the dealers need to
Q. What will this mean for dealers of domestic
farm animals and coldblooded species?
A. This proposal will have no substantive effect on
APHIS’ regulation of domestic farm animals and
coldblooded species. Normal farm-type operations
that raise, or buy and sell, animals only for food and
fiber, and businesses that use only fish and other
coldblooded animals are excluded from the definition
of “animal” in the AWA and, therefore, are categorically
exempt by law from coverage.
Q. What will this mean for dealers of rabbits who
sell their animals for use as food or fiber?
A. This proposed rule would not change APHIS’
regulation of dealers who sell rabbits or other animals
for use as food or fiber. As mentioned above, anyone
selling any animals only for food or fiber are exempt
under the AWA.
Q. If this proposal is adopted, would breeders who
come under regulation and allow their dogs to
roam free in their homes have to put their animals
in a kennel?
A. No. The AWA regulations define a primary
enclosure broadly to mean any structure or device
used to restrict an animal or animals to a limited
amount of space. As such, a home can be considered
a dog’s primary enclosure. If a room of a house is used
as a dog’s primary enclosure (e.g., a whelping room or
nursery), APHIS will apply the applicable regulations
and standards to the room.
If, however, a dog breeder allows their dogs to have
free run of the entire house, APHIS will assess whether
the home can house animals within the health and
humane standards contemplated by the AWA. If the
breeder has a kennel or cages that the dogs can stay
in inside the home that meet AWA standards, we would
consider that compliance with the primary enclosure
requirements has been achieved.
Q. What is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)?
A. The AWA sets standards for humane care and
treatment that must be provided for certain animals
that are bred for commercial sale; exhibited to the
public; used in biomedical research; or transported
commercially. The AWA does not apply to cold-blooded
animals or agricultural animals used for food or fiber.
Individuals and entities licensed under the AWA must
provide their animals with adequate housing, sanitation,
nutrition, water and veterinary care. They must
also protect the animals from extreme weather and
Q. What does a proposed rule mean?
A. APHIS has issued this proposed rule as part of its
rulemaking process. It is just a proposal, issued for
public review and comment. It has no immediate effect
on potentially regulated facilities.
Q. What is the next step in the rulemaking process?
A. The comment period for the proposed rule closes
July 16, 2012. Once the comment period closes, APHIS
will consider all comments received and, if warranted,
will revise the rule in response to those comments.
Q. How can I comment on this proposal?
A. To comment on this proposal, you can submit your
comments one of two ways:
• Visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.
• Mail your comments to: Docket No. APHIS-2011-
0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118,
Riverdale, MD, 20737-1238.
Founder, Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan