SA 3723 FAQ
Regulation Of High-Volume Retailers And Importers
WHAT IS SA 3723?
SA 3723 (the new PAWS), an amendment to the Senate version of the Farm Bill (HR 2417), is the latest attempt by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). SA 3723 if passed will place the federal government in control of breeding and sales of dogs and cats in the private sector. Traditionally, the Animal Welfare Act ensured the humane treatment of animals in laboratory settings. It was later amended to include regulation of pet wholesalers. Every AWA amendment effort over the last 30 years has been highly controversial, as have its USDA implementation rulemakings. SA 3723 a near clone of the Pet Animal Welfare Act 2005 (PAWS) is the most devastating legislation of its kind ever introduced.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH SA 3723?
SA 3723 exposes some hobby breeders and every seller of a dog for "hunting, security, or breeding purposes" to a very significant USDA licensing risk, involving burdensome commercial costs and inspection standards.
SA 3723 changes the AWA and USDA's existing, long-standing, legally tested basis for federal dog and cat business licensing and regulation. The current procedure is based on treating wholesale sales and retail sales differently. Reducing it to its simplest terms, under current law and USDA regulations, if you sell a dog to a wholesaler, you are regulated. Rescuers, hobby breeders and owners selling to retail buyers are exempt today. The Doris Day Animal League (now merged with HSUS) challenged the hobby breeder portion of this regulatory structure in court and lost in 2003.
SA 3723 is confused, highly subjective and predictable only in the sense that it will overwhelm the USDA with unnecessary inspections or record-keeping and reporting of thousands of rescuers and hobby breeders and waves of litigation. Either by design or by accident, it also exposes all buyers and sellers of dogs for hunting, security and breeding purposes to federal licensing and regulation.
HOW WILL USDA LICENSING IMPACT THE HOBBY BREEDER?
SA 3723 amends the current statute to define additional USDA licensed "dealers" to include:
1. Any person that sells more than 25 dogs or cats at wholesale or to the public, or
2. Any person that whelps more than 6 litters of dogs or cats and sells dogs or cats bred or raised on the premises of another person, or at wholesale, or
3. Any person that imports dogs for another person's use and enjoyment.
A USDA license will require unannounced inspections and annual fees in addition to conforming to over 60 pages of care and facility standards. Standards such as "surfaces must be impervious to moisture" are impossible to meet in the home environment.
The requirement of USDA licensing will severely impact cat fanciers at the hobby breeding level, if it does not destroy their pedigreed breeding programs completely.
In many areas having a USDA license automatically defines you as a commercial entity - frequently not allowed in residential zoning. If allowed by the local jurisdiction, you may be required to get a conditional use permit, which can be vetoed by your neighbors and also meet setback requirements that might require a larger lot size. A USDA-compliant kennel with 10 runs may cost you in the six figures and probably lower the value of your property for other than a non-kennel buyer in the future.
WHY WILL BUYERS AND SELLERS OF DOGS FOR HUNTING, SECURITY AND BREEDING PURPOSES BE LICENSED UNDER SA 3723?
Previously, AWA's entire determination of who was a federally licensed dog seller ("dealer") hinged on the type of sale involved - wholesale or retail. SA 3723 discards that regulatory structure and substitutes one that requires that most dealer determinations be based on numbers of dogs sold or litters bred, without regard to wholesale or retail sales. The critical problem is that SA 3723 leaves a key existing AWA provision unchanged.
The term *dealer* means any person who buys, or sells any dog for hunting, security, or breeding purposes
This is in conflict with the numerical criteria set out above. Why are hunting and security dog owners singled out and herding, working and toy breed owners ignored? Does this mean that all sellers of intact dogs are to be licensed, but not those selling sterilized animals?
The reason that this provision hasn't been an active concern before today is that it has not been enforced. USDA took four years to write the "purposes" implementing rule and it was not until October 21, 2004, that the agency published its determination that it would require such licensing of **only those dog owners selling to wholesalers. **
SA 3723 eliminates the established USDA regulatory distinction between wholesalers and retailers. It shatters and pulls the entire AWA regulatory basis to the ground. It requires licenses of selected dog owners for the first time in 30 years on the basis of what their dogs do, not how they're treated, thus guaranteeing years of litigation, costly uncertainty for all and wrenching dog ownership disruptions.
WHO SUPPORTS SA 3723 AND REGULATION OF HOBBY BREEDERS AT THE IN-HOME LEVEL?
Animal rights groups support this legislation. Animal rights groups create extreme emotion and turmoil in the public eye about any breeding - attempting to lead the public into believing that everyone who breeds is automatically guilty of abuse and incapable of caring for their own animals.
WHY DO WE OPPOSE THIS LEGISLATION?
SA 3723 establishes federal authority to regulate a personal hobby conducted in the privacy of your own residence.
It is not the role of the federal government to be a national humane agency or a control agency to but strike a balance between public oversight and individual freedom that is appropriate for the federal government.
No documentation has been submitted by the SA 3723 supporters to verify their claim that federal legislation is required to ensure animal welfare rather than continue with current state and local enforcement of animal welfare laws.
We strongly oppose the attempt of animal rights groups to use government to further an extremist agenda which will redefine breeders as commercial activity and restrict the rights of responsible breeders and animal owners. SA 3723 will lead to more restrictive local, county and state regulation AFTER it has been proven impossible to enforce at federal level.
SA 3723 reverses a U.S. Court of Appeals 2003 decision that it was not the intent of Congress to regulate in-home breeders. (See Doris Day Animal V Veneman Ann)
SA 3723 establishes the precedent for federal regulation of home hobby breeding, rescuers, all sellers of intact, breedable dogs and the discrimination against certain types of dogs, e.g. hunting and security breeds. Additionally, strong pressure to further decrease SA 3723 numerical "dealer" criteria is inevitable.
Current USDA regulations are written to cover commercial facilities, not in-home breeding programs. Raising a litter of puppies/kittens in your bedroom is not compliant with established USDA regulations for hosedown/sanitize facilities.
SA 3723 includes a provision for "certified third-party inspector". This concept is an attempt to alleviate the otherwise impossible financial burden on USDA that the increased scope of breeder regulation would create. It is not at all clear that any new regulations for in-home hobby breeders will be materially different than those already in place. The third-party inspector can be a nonprofit organization certified by the Secretary of Agriculture. The nonprofit organization would apply to USDA for certification as breeding facility inspectors and establish their own inspection standards which USDA would have to approve. Most assuredly these inspections would be done for a fee paid by the breeder.
USDA does not have the manpower to enforce SA 3723. It seems futile to pass legislation that would require multi-millions of dollars to be needlessly appropriated by Congress when so many other more valid public priorities and problems exist. Should USDA employ private contract inspectors associated with a dog registry or an animal rights group, very serious anti-competitive and/or animal ownership V. animal rights policy disputes are inevitable. How can USDA justify more lenient regulations or standards for any regulated entity, if its primary mission is animal protection? SA 3723 is a burden that the USDA must greatly fear.