The American Kennel Club and our Washington, D.C.-based advocacy team continue to closely monitor the federal Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) legislation introduced last spring as Senate Bill 707 (S.707) and House Bill 835 (H.R. 835). Each of the bills has been assigned to the Agriculture Committees of their respective chambers. To date, no hearings have been scheduled and no formal action has been taken on this bill.
PUPS would purportedly require anyone who owns or co-owns dogs that produce 50 or more puppies offered for sale in a 12-month period to be regulated under existing USDA dog “dealer” regulations. These regulations are designed for high-volume commercial kennels that produce puppies for wholesale, and require a USDA commercial license, maintenance of specified commercial kennel engineering standards and regular inspections.
The AKC does not oppose the general concept of reasonable regulations for high volume breeder/retailers. However, the PUPS bill is misleading because such regulations would hurt responsible small breeders who raise only a few litters of puppies each year in their homes, while also reducing the availability of resources needed to enforce against abusive or negligent operations.
The AKC also has a number of serious concerns with the bill as introduced and does not support this measure. These concerns include:
* Definition of “breeding female” as an intact female dog aged 4 months or older. This definition is misleading because female dogs are not sufficiently mature at 4 months of age to be bred. Additionally, such a definition should not be necessary if a “high volume retail breeder” is to be based on sales, rather than the number of dogs owned.
* Definition of “high volume retail breeder” as someone with “an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs.” This definition is overly broad and does not take into account the tradition of co- and joint ownerships common among dog show participants, sporting dog trainers, hunting club members, and other hobbyists. Additionally, a reference to the number of dogs owned by a breeder is unnecessary and potentially misleading in legislation that does not limit ownership rights per se.
* Current exercise language is overly vague and should be clarified to ensure that the daily exercise requirements do not preclude use of legitimate training or exercise equipment or other types of physical activity.
* This legislation calls for exponentially expanding the numbers of breeders regulated and inspected by the Animal Care division of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). However, a May 2010 audit of this program by the USDA’s own Inspector General demonstrated that the existing inspections program is insufficient to carry out current responsibilities. The AKC believes these issues and full funding for the current program should be addressed before attempting to exponentially expand the program’s responsibilities and workload.
AKC Government Relations and our Washington-based advocates will continue to closely monitor the activities of key members of Congress, policy committees, and their staff for any developments regarding PUPS. We are committed to keeping our constituents updated via email and the AKC website. Updated information about PUPS and other legislation is available online at http://www.akc.org/news/sections/legislative_alerts.cfm or by clicking on “US Fed” on AKC’s online legislative tracking system.
The AKC encourages all responsible dog owners and breeders to stay active in your community as a role model for responsible dog ownership and breeding and to educate your legislators about potentially misleading legislation that could harm responsible dog owners and breeders.
Although PUPS is not actively being considered in Congress at this time, we encourage responsible dog owners and breeders to share their concerns about this measure with their federal representatives. Use the following links to find out the names and contact information of your member of Congress and your Senators. For more information on effectively communicating with your legislators and other tools and information to help you, please visit the AKC Government Relations Toolbox and AKC GR newsletters links on the AKC Government Relations webpage.