- Animal Care Division of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service
- United States of America
Join with the American Kennel Club to express your concerns about the harsh and unintended consequences that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed regulations (RIN 0579-AD57) to redefine “retail pet store” would have on responsible small and hobby breeders.
Under the proposed regulations, breeders - who maintain more than four “breeding females” and who sell even one puppy sight unseen, by any means (including online, by mail or by telephone), would now be regulated as commercial breeders by the USDA. The effect of these proposed regulations would be to take away the public’s opportunity to obtain puppies from some of our nation’s top breeders who in many cases, have dedicated their lives to breeding for health, breed type and temperament.
Under current law, the federal Animal Welfare Act exempts from federal oversight “retail pet stores,” which sell puppies directly to a final customer for use as pets. This exemption means that most non-commercial small or hobby breeders do not have to be licensed and regulated by the USDA. The proposed rule rescinds the exempt “retail pet store” status of anyone selling pets at retail to buyers who do not physically enter the breeder’s facilities in order to personally observe the animals available for sale.
The rule also requires anyone who owns more than four “breeding females” and sells puppies, cats or other small/exotic pets “sight unseen,” by any means, to be licensed, regulated and inspected as a USDA commercial breeder.
The AKC shares the USDA’s concern about substandard Internet puppy sellers that operate outside the current regulations. However, the unintended consequences of this proposed rule create unreasonable hardships on small hobby breeders. This rule could threaten the future of a vast number of small responsible dog breeders and the very existence of some rare breeds in the United States.
The rule creates an unfair burden on small breeders who may depend on the ability to place dogs very selectively in known situations without physically meeting with the purchaser at the specific time of sale. Likewise, many hobbyists are comfortable purchasing an animal sight-unseen based on known pedigrees, bloodlines, previous relationships or personal knowledge of each other’s facilities and programs. Such scenarios are particularly common and necessary for breeders and fanciers of rare breeds. The proposed rule does not make allowances if the purchaser is willing to sign a waiver of an in-person sale requirement.
It is unreasonable to expect small breeders, who may keep a handful of intact females in their homes, to be able to meet exacting USDA commercial kennel engineering standards that were never intended for home environments. Other pre-existing restrictions such as local ordinances, insurance or licensing may also prevent hobbyists from adapting their facilities.
Under the proposed regulations, breeders or others who sell a puppy sight unseen, by any means including online, by mail or by telephone, would now be regulated in accordance with USDA standards, if you own more than four "breeding females" of any of the listed species, including dogs and cats. The effect of these proposed regulations would be to take away the public’s opportunity to obtain puppies from those breeders, who in many cases have dedicated their lives to breeding for health, breed type and temperament.
As the leader and expert in breeding and maintaining dogs for more than a century, the AKC supports responsible breeders and dog owners through its educational and inspections programs. As the only purebred dog registry with a care and conditions of dogs policy - which we have recently enhanced to create a comprehensive policy for the welfare of all dogs - more than 55,000 inspections have been conducted since 2000. We know through experience that regardless of the number of dogs owned or the manner in which breeders interact with potential puppy buyers, a “one size fits all” breeder regulation is unfair and unenforceable.
We sign this petition in order to alert the USDA that a “one size fits all breeders” type of regulation is not in the best interest of dogs and/or consumers in this country. We stand in support of the AKC’s comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed regulations as written. In so doing, we demonstrate our commitment to the continued breeding of dogs by responsible small and hobby breeders throughout this country.