Saturday, June 16, 2012

New USDA rule would force small breeders to become licensed.

The proposed federal APHIS/USDA rule which is being falsely touted as an "anti-puppymill" rule actually applies to "Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and cold-blooded species."

From the proposed rule:
In addition to retail pet stores, the proposed rule would exempt  from regulation anyone who sells or negotiates the sale or purchase of any animal, except wild or exotic animals, dogs, or cats, and who derives no more than $500 gross income from the sale of such animals. In addition, the proposed rule would increase from three to four the number of breeding female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals that a person may maintain on his or her premises and be exempt from licensing and inspection if he or she sells only the offspring of those animals born and raised on his or her premises for use as pets or exhibition, regardless of whether those animals are sold at retail or wholesale.

In other words, if you own or co-own more than 4 breedable females (of any combination of cats, dogs or exotic animals) and sell pets (or animals for exhibition--which can include something as simple as using an animal in a photo promoting a product--or any other USDA-regulated animals), sell any animals not born and raised on your premises as pets, sell more than $500 worth of AWA-regulated animals (gross, not profit), or sell even one animal as a pet in a transaction in which the buyer does not personally come to your home or place of business, you must be USDA licensed and conform to AWA standards.

Here is a handy chart to help you understand the exemptions (just substitute the word "females" for species other than dogs--it does apply to more than just dogs):

This means that people will no longer be able to carefully choose the pet (or the prospective home for their animal) that is the best fit, but will instead be limited by geographic proximity.  

Without being USDA licensed, rescues can no longer adopt animals out of foster homes unless every prospective adopter goes to the foster family's house. It may affect chick hatcheries being able to ship chicks to people who want backyard chickens or ducks as pets. Sales can no longer take place at competitive shows where multiple knowledgeable second opinions about the health and quality of the animal are readily available.

Pets will not be able to be shipped or transported by either a third party or the seller themselves to the prospective buyer, no matter how carefully the buyer and seller (or rescue and adopter) have checked each other out or how well they know each other, or even whether they have already had previous dealings and this is a repeat transaction (and even though animals being shipped are already required to have a certificate from a veterinarian verifying that they are healthy and have had all required vaccines and testing). It will eliminate chains of volunteers forming a "train" to transport a rescue pet or a rare breed across the country.

For a small hobbyist breeder or rescue who keeps their animals in their home with their family, forcing them to bring every prospective buyer or adopter is dangerous for many reasons. 

Bringing all buyers into the home compromises biosecurity and puts the animals at risk from disease--things like parvo, mites, parasites and other issues can easily be carried on visitors' shoes, hands or clothing. It could also compromise the emotional well-being of the animals; as an animal recovering from surgery, giving birth, or in advanced old age could be easily stressed out by strangers coming into their space.

It also opens up both the animals and the homeowner to a substantial risk from thieves, animal rights activists, vandals, and others who may wish them harm.

Forcing a private citizen to bring customers into their home is far more dangerous than having customers come into a business. Farm homes are often remote from other people, out of view from the road or other public areas, and too far from neighbors for anyone to hear calls for help. Emergency services such as fire, medical and police help are farther away and will turn out in smaller force for a residential call than for a business call.

If this rule passes, it will make it far too easy for thieves, rapists, murderers, extremists and other dangerous people to gain access to private homes.

It may also cause issues with city and county code compliance, as many counties allow home businesses in certain districts only as long as customers do not come to the home. Home insurance companies are also likely to drop people's policies or charge far more if customers are coming to the home.

If you're thinking that requiring more people to be licensed and inspected is a good thing, think again. Animal Welfare Act standards were written and intended for laboratories and large commercial enterprises, not small family businesses, rescues, service dog organizations or in-home breeders. A person CANNOT raise animals in a home with a family environment and meet AWA standards.

If someone is USDA licensed, they are required to keep their animals in a sterile commercial-type setting with myriad regulations about things like having impermeable services, specific sizes and types of enclosures, pristine like-new equipment and facilities (even a few hairs on the floor, a spot of rust on an enclosure or a cobweb on the ceiling can be a violation) and not having young animals around any other animal besides their mother. Not to mention the types of records required to be kept, excessive veterinary requirements, and other issues we go into more detail about in our previous post, Why not just apply for a USDA license? 

Remember, this is a federal rule, which means it will apply to all of the USA--not just one state.


More information and sources:

Here is the link where you can make comments directly to APHIS (as many as you like; you're not limited to just one) on the proposed new rule which would drastically widen the pool of people required to be licensed:!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

The Cavalry Group has put up a website with a tool to make it easy to email your congressional representatives about this issue (this is important because the new rule must be approved by Congress). You can use their suggested wording, or (for more impact) revise and edit it to reflect your own situation and wording. (While you're at it, it would also be a good idea to write another note asking them NOT to support the PUPS (Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety) Act, another very similar law backed by the HSUS and other animal supremacy groups that some congressfolks are trying to pass.)

The AKC also has a petition going:

Here is the site where you can look up inspection reports. You can search by any term, including type of animal.

And here are the published regulations pertaining to the Animal Welfare Act:

Here are a lot of the forms and other info:

Washington Animal Watch Posts about the proposed USDA/APHIS rule:

New USDA rule would force small breeders to become licensed.

Why not just apply for a USDA license?

Images Opposing PUPS and the APHIS proposal (for posting on your own site, Facebook page, etc.)

Buying Animals at Shows:

Our thoughts on the APHIS fact sheet and ARBA/APHIS teleconference notes:

What is a place of business? (be sure to read the comments, too):


Copyright Washington Animal Watch, 2012

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1 comment:

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