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USDA Rewrites AWA to Exempt Millers - SEE WHY!


Kim L. Townsend | Oct. 2008


Here is a story that will interest you and your readers. In short, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeders (large-scale breeders which supply the pet shops with puppies) states that when a commercial breeder buys ANY dog from an unlicensed person, they must get the seller of that dog to sign a statement that "certifies" the following information:

  1. They are not required to be USDA licensed.

  2. They do not sell puppies wholesale.

  3. They do not have more than 3 breeding females.

In other words, virtually anyone selling to a commercial breeder needs to have a USDA license.

This was not a new regulation, it was simply a regulation that USDA did not enforce for two dozen years. The commercial breeders threw a fit about this and sent out an alert telling members to write their elected officials. In substance, the alert was a letter which stated that show breeders would never sell to a USDA kennels and therefore this newly enforced regulation would limit their 'fair trade' ability. By requiring a show breeder to fill out the exempt form, that breeder would then realize that they were selling to a commercial breeder and any good hobby or show breeder would never do this.

This letter-writing campaign brought the heat down on USDA and in typical fashion, USDA caved to the dog industry and said that when buying breeding dogs, they don't need to get an exempt form. In other words, the puppy mills will continue to lie to get "champion sired" dogs from show breeders. This makes their puppy;s pedigree look good to the pet shop customer.

USDA published the following statement on their website, "clarifying" the rules concerning the acquisition of breeding stock.


Statement on the Acquisition of Breeding Stock by Class "A" Licensees:  For the purposes of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the acquisition of breeding stock by Class "A" licensees from bona fide retail sources is considered a retail transaction. This means that the seller (breeder) of the breeding stock, if otherwise exempt from AWA regulation, is not required to be licensed under the AWA for such a transaction, and the certification requirement of 2.132(d) does not apply. Therefore, Class "A" licensees purchasing breeding stock directly from those bona fide retail (exempt) sources do not need to acquire the seller certifications listed in this section.

The AWA defines a dealer as:

(f) The term "dealer" means any person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit, delivers for transportation, or transports, except as a carrier, buys, or sells, or negotiates the purchase or sale of, (1) any dog or other animal whether alive or dead for research, teaching, exhibition, or use as a pet, or (2) any dog for hunting, security, or breeding purposes, except that this term does not include

(i) a retail pet store except such store which sells any animals to a research facility, an exhibitor, or a dealer

The AWA defines a retail pet store as anyone who sells retail, not just a "store". But if you are retail, you can not sell to research and/or a dealer...that includes breeding dogs. So once a "retail breeder" sells to a dealer...they become dealers by definition and must be licensed. But, once again the retail industry wins...USDA caves to their demands.

You may wonder why the puppy mills would even want to obtain dogs from unlicensed sources. The answer is in a newsletter put out by the industry. It's too long to type it all, but here are the key points."


Iowa Meeting with USDA and Pet Breeders


I was invited to speak at Des Moines Iowa, concerning the "kitchen sink docket". On Nov. 19th, Karen and Lewis Strange, Cathy Griesbauer, Dale Ingram (PPA Attorney ), Dr. Jerry Eber, Herman Schindler, Tom Hawley (representing MPBA) and myself (Bonnie Schindler) met with the IPB Board and spent five long hours trying to assess the document and its effect on the breeding industry.

This is really a problem for most breeders and dealers. For the breeders this disallows our ability to upgrade our breeding stock. Not many "show breeders" will knowingly sell to commercial breeders and therefore will certainly not fill out the paperwork to support the fact of the 3 bitch rule. How many people in other animal business have any restrictions concerning buying the best male anywhere they choose to upgrade their animal offspring?


They go on to tell breeders to fax all your representatives NOW and that "Karen" has typed you a sample of what you could say in your letter.

This is the letter from Karen Strange (AKC Legislative Liaison for Missouri, and judge for America's Pet Registry (APRi) dog shows, a registry formed for the commercial breeders…by the commercial breeders):



My name is ___________ and I am a licensed USDA dog breeder from ______, Missouri. I am a taxpaying citizen, a voter, and my industry adds millions of dollars to the economy in the state of Missouri each year.

Aug. 13, 2004, the AWA was amended to make changes in the inspections, licensing and procurement of animals. The changes are published in the Federal Register....

Some of the changes are invasive and will create a great hardship on my business. Among my concerns are that I can no longer obtain dogs, cats or other animals from an unlicensed person if that person is required to be licensed. Since USDA does not pursue the licensing of commercial breeders in most other states even though they are required to do so, it severely limits my free enterprise practices. It also states that if I am in violations of any Federal, State or Local laws, I cannot have my USDA license renewed. WE have consulted with our industry attorney and concur that this is not within the scope of the AWA.

Information and comments provided by:  Kim L. Townsend,


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