A few weeks ago the Sportsman’s andAnimal Owners Alliance warned us that, despite the efforts and concerns expressed, literally for years, by small breeders, APHIS was coming. They listed these points of concern:
“Can hunting dog kennel owners sell pets?
Can breeders ship sight-unseen where relationships have been well established ?
Can litters be whelped inside the house?
Are rescues still exempt if they ship sight-unseen?
Can animals, other than rabbits, be shipped for preservation of the species?
Do the APHIS regulations take precedence over state license regulations?
How can we believe the answers from APHIS staff who do not understand the questions?
Does APHIS plan to offer any protection for newly licensed breeders so that kennel photos are not added to the ASPCA “puppy mill” data base and other sensationalized uses?
If you are reported to APHIS as needing a license, are investigators required to have a warrant to enter your premises?
Is everyone on the same premise required to be licensed if one person must be licensed?
“The rule is overly complicated, inconsistent, and certainly not easy to understand. The internet and chat groups are full of conversation about this rule with a number of interpretations and a wide variety of opinions being circulated. APHIS also posted another Question and Answer Fact Sheet with their explanations to some of the major concerns submitted during the rule making process. Again as last year, the Q&A contains many half, incomplete, or misleading answers. The reality is that the final interpretation of the rule and its definitions will be at the discretion of APHIS inspectors and staff.”
Here are (a few of many) examples:
“The AWA Standards of Care for housing, facilities, exercise, cleaning, sanitization, employees, housekeeping, and pest control will not be revised.
“Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average home-based retail seller. The average house cannot be converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal standards for licensed facilities dictate sanitation measures not feasible in a normal home, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals.
“… IF you can give up a room in your house and convert it to be the moisture proof, sterile environment described above, AND gain approval from an APHIS inspector, you may be able to crate or pen animals in that room. This room would then be for either adults or puppies/kittens but not both. Under the USDA standards puppies and kittens under 4 months of age cannot be housed in the same primary enclosure with adults, other than the dam/queen or foster dam/queen. Since the remainder of your house does not meet the above requirements, allowing animals to roam freely would cause you to be in violation of the AWA. And unless your bedroom is coated in epoxy and has a floor drain, you won’t be doing any whelping there.
“A separate facility will be needed for females by two weeks prior to whelping. Even if you make one room in your house compliant with the AWA standards, females cannot be whelped in that room. That means an additional room will be required, plus one for each additional litter within the next 3.5 months.
“Any room in your home used for whelping or birthing must meet USDA standards – impervious to moisture – meaning tile floor and vinyl-coated walls.
“All surfaces touched by animals must be waterproof and sterilized every two weeks with your choice of live steam under pressure, 180 degree water and detergent with disinfectant, or a combination detergent/disinfectant product.”
It has passed, without most of this being clarified. Lane Batot’s friend Jill Porter, who has been fighting the act for a long time, wrote:
“It goes into effect in 60 days. It’s 91 pages of convoluted and hard to understand new regulations for anyone breeding pet animals (dogs, cats, pocket pets, reptiles and much more.) The short of it is that even smaller home based breeders like me can no longer ship puppies without being USDA licensed. The requirements to be licensed will force us to not be able to raise dogs the way we do, as family members in our homes. Because of many other changes, it also has a horrible impact on our ability to make good genetic decisions for our breeding programs, and so much more. I am still in shock about this as is everyone who knows about it and understands what it is going to do. The reasoning was to control the huge volume breeders that sell sick puppies sight unseen over the internet, but in reality it will hurt the small, quality dog breeders who show and preserve the valuable genetics in each breed. Some of my friends have already announced they are closing down their breeding programs, since they have rare or less common breeds and can’t function with the new regulations. (These are the good breeders who raise dogs in the home, do all health testing, are very active in their breed clubs and more.) It is going to be such a loss to see those breeds and bloodlines disappear. But hey, it’s the government and animal rights groups in action. At least the big puppy mills will stay in business (and THAT is said with a HUGE amount of sarcasm) since they don’t care if they have to keep dogs in cages to comply with regulations.
“This is a huge victory for the radical animal rights group the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who pushed for it To them all breeders are puppy mills and they want to see all breeding stopped forever. Their president said he wants to see domestic animals become extinct… They don’t help shelter pets, they use their money for lawyers, pensions and lobbbying but their commercials make you THINK you are giving to save puppies and kittens in shelters. Check out www.humanewatch.org for more.”
Text of the act, or most of it, should be here.