Tomorrow is the last day for comments. After that, Fate will tell YOU where you can buy, what you can buy, how you can sell or even if you can sell. Below is a repost from Walt Hutchens, a well-known animal advocate, who has consistently fought AR laws over many years. He has given permission to crosspost this to wherever anyone believes it will do any good. He mainly discusses how this will affect breeders, but it will affect buyers too. A buyer’s ability to obtain an healthy, well-bred animal will disappear if this goes through. A buyer will be left with animals with a “suspect” past, be it behavioral or health or even imported from countries such as China, Taiwan, Mexico where conditions are beyond the buyer’s and the importer’s control. Costs of a pet will rise no matter what title (i.e. adopt) gets attached to that animal. Long story short, APHIS also needs to hear from buyers, especially if they cherish their ability to choose. For breeders – the fox has offered to guard the hen house. HSUS has stepped up to the plate to help APHIS out in monitoring and inspecting sellers.
Not many left to make.
The animal rights wars have reached a new and critical phase. I am going to ask for your help.
In short, breeding dogs as we do, in a home setting, may be about to get new and more difficult FEDERAL rules and since there’s a major organization — the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) — devoted to destroying pet breeding, that would make it a whole lot more dangerous. This is unfortunately a long
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was amended in 1971 to bring the breeding of dogs under federal regulation. USDA is the enforcing agency and it shortly wrote regulations saying who had to be licensed and that licensees must operate a commercial-type kennel with facilities and practices spelled out in detail. There are inspections, discrepancies must be corrected, and having too many discrepancies leads to fines.
That first set of AWA regulations established seven exemptions from the licensure requirement. The most important of these was the ‘retail pet store’ exemption: People, businesses, etc. that sell only at retail (never through middlemen such as pet shops) are considered RPSs and are not required to be licensed. The theory was that RPSs are mostly very small, thus inspecting them was not a cost-effective use of government resources and that in any case they’re inspected by customers.
The reason we can breed dogs in our home, whelp puppies in a spare bedroom, bring them to our living room, take them out to romp on the (unfenced) lawn, and allow them supervised play with our adults is that the federal government considers us a Retail Pet Shop and thus exempt from licensing which would forbid all of these things.
The practice of sight unseen purchase — at the time by phone/mail from ads in major national and pet publications — caused no special concern back in 1971 or for the next 40 years.
HSUS is the leader of the animal rights (AR) movement. They make their money by convincing the public that they ‘protect’ animals but in fact only about 1/2% of their roughly $150 million/year income helps any animal: Most of the money goes to fundraising, excellent salaries for top officers, lobbying for more restrictive laws, and litigation in support of their lobbying work. You may wonder how a 501(c)(3) charity can do big time lobbying and so do many other people, but it doesn’t bother the IRS.
A long time dream of HSUS and the animal rights movement in general has been the licensing and inspection of all pet breeders. From 1997 to the present they have initiated at least four bills in Congress that would dramatically extend the reach of the AWA; they also fought a court battle based on their claim that Congress’ intent was the regulation of all breeders. They won in District Court but USDA appealed and the Court of Appeals found that USDA’s exemption of very small breeders based on the fact that they sold at retail only was a valid exercise of regulatory judgement. (DDAL v.
Venneman, decided 2003)
From ’97 until now, HSUS has gotten NOTHING. Their bills generally don’t even get a Congressional hearing. And USDA supported the ‘retail sales only’ line.
Now for the first time they have an Administration that is supportive of their goals. Through APHIS (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA) there is a proposed rulemaking, APHIS Docket 2011-0003, that would shrink the Retail Pet Shop exemption to those breeders who require every
buyer to come to the location where the animals are maintained at least once for every sale. The claimed reason is that with the growth of the Internet there is no longer assurance that breeders locations are seen by the public; this is now proclaimed to be a ‘loophole.’
There are changes to the other exemptions: The most important of these is the elimination of the ‘fancier’ exemption covering those who breed for show.
Our normal practice is that buyers come here, so the new regulation wouldn’t seem to affect us very much. However we have shipped a rescue dog whose ideal home turned out to be in Wyoming and we have a few times met the buyer of a second puppy who was a member of the Timbreblue family, halfway.
Furthermore, we sometimes buy dogs from other breeders, meeting them halfway or at a dog show. We need that freedom.
Some other hobby breeders never bring people to their homes to buy. For reasons of either (or both) personal safety and fear of an AR ‘sting’ buyer looking for probable cause to set up a raid, they meet in public places. And the practices of shipping dogs and meeting at shows or elsewhere are very common.
Most breeders won’t be able to comply.
Some 10 million dogs are sold each year. The majority are casual sales by people who have no clue that the federal government regulates such things. Under the proposed regulation if you trade a dog that won’t hunt for a box of shotgun shells in your church parking lot, you will be in violation and subject to a fine of up to $10,000. There is no applicable ‘too small to care about’ exemption. So how many violations would there be? A million a year? More?
Most, of course, will never be noticed because APHIS can’t be everywhere and most people won’t care. However we can count on HSUS to set up a ‘tip line’ and funnel reported violations to the feds. Will that be 10,000 reports a year or only a thousand? Will another breeder who dislikes you or an animal rightist who hates all ‘greeders’ call in a tip and force you to try to prove to an inspector that you didn’t sell a dog at a flea market? (How do you prove where a dog is sold?) Will HSUS sue APHIS if they don’t process these reports?
Did Carter grow peanuts?
You’d think that the required cost/benefit analysis would have shown this to be a bad idea however APHIS counted only costs to the few hundred breeders they expect will become licensed, completely ignoring the expense when millions of other people must change their actions to avoid licensure, and the costly consequences of forcing more breeding underground and offshore. (If breeding illegally why would one pay taxes? What’s the cost of attempting enforcement against hidden breeders? Would there be costs resulting from lower animal quality?)
We’re now nearing the end of the public comment period on Docket 2011-0003, though there is talk of an extension. With about 6500 comments submitted so far, ‘opposed’ outnumbers ‘support’ by about 2:1 and the quality of the ‘oppose’ is far the better. HOWEVER, telephone conferences with APHIS give
the impression of an agency that has been told to “Do it!” and intends following orders. They’re now simply LYING about what’s in the regulations: In spite of plain language saying that a retail pet store must be a structure that each buyer physically enters, APHIS personnel are saying “All that’s really required is face-to-face contact” (for example at a show or other meeting place). And though existing regulations make very detailed requirements for licensed facilities such as that all surfaces contacted by animals must be sterilizable with water at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, APHIS is telling us “If you have a home breeding program you wouldn’t be expected to meet those requirements.”
Docket APHIS-2011-0003 is USDA’s ‘fast and furious’ — an agency action so stupid on its face, handled in so corrupt a manner and with such consequences that it should be a long term stain on Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the Department. However because pet breeders have no equivalent to the NRA, the public narrative is controlled by anti-pet interests whose view is “Breeders don’t care about animals; they do it to make money; abusing animals is profitable; and more regulation is better, regardless of how that’s achieved.” This story will never be on TV or in the newspapers.
Should these rules go into effect the less common breeds of dogs will be gone within ten years as the home breeders who sustain them close down. Breeding of the more popular breeds will shift toward large commercial kennels who will have to direct ship because pet shops are being shut down by local laws and boycotts. As the shortage of dogs develops there’ll be more direct sale importing (importing of puppies for resale is already illegal) and an increase of black market breeding.
Pedigree cats, pet rabbits, birds, and many of the smaller pets will fade more quickly; numbers in these species are already very small and many are not as easily bred as dogs.
We are of course deeply in the fight against Docket APHIS-2011-0003 and we still hope to win but we could use your help.
1. Comment to APHIS. Among obvious things to say is that you’re plenty smart enough to check out a pet breeder for yourself and you’d like to keep the choice of where and how you buy a dog rather than having the government do it for you. Be sure to say that you oppose these new regulations (or some equivalent) so the official reader won’t make a mistake. To make a public comment online, go here:
You can read the Federal Register announcement there (if you wish) and using the search function for ‘Walter Hutchens’ will show you my eight or so comments. If you change the address above by replacing ‘0001’ with any four digit number up to about 6500 you can read individual comments by others. The first thousand or so are nearly all animal rightists; to get a more balanced selection use numbers 1000-up.
To have your say, click ‘COMMENT.’ There’s a 2000-character limit, although you can upload larger files referenced by a comment. (Blanks ARE counted.) You must give your name and city; your name and comment can be read by anyone. It may be easier to draft comments with a word processing program that counts characters and then copy/paste them to the regulations.gov site.
2. Use your comments as the basis to write to your Congressmen. That’s easy to do by going here:
There’s a sample letter but it should at least be substantially customized as form letters are counted as just one. Congressmen do NOT disclose any of your personal info or communications.
The importance of sending to Congress is that since APHIS seems to have been told ‘do it, regardless’ our best hope is that Congress leans on them either informally or via a Government Accountability Office investigation of the corrupt process for this rulemaking. (This plainly is a ‘major rulemaking’ in which GAO should be involved; it has been made to appear otherwise by ignoring nearly all of the costs.)
We will appreciate any help you can give us.