Federal “PUPS” legislation (S 395/HR 847)

[Friday, March 1, 2013]


Federal “PUPS” legislation (S 395/HR 847), sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jim Gerlach has been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress and assigned to the House and Senate Agriculture committees. The bill is substantially the same as previous versions introduced in 2011 and 2010, which never received committee hearings.

The AKC continues to express grave concerns about this measure. The AKC believes that all dog breeding programs should be undertaken responsibly and does not oppose the concept of regulating high volume breeder-retailers. However, as currently written, the definitions proposed in this bill are misleading, overly broad, and potentially damaging to small responsible breeders who individually maintain and breed only a few dogs in their homes.

Although the stated purpose of PUPS is to regulate internet sales of puppies, S 395/HR 847 as currently written would require anyone who owns or co-owns even a few female dogs that collectively produce 50 or more puppies offered for sale in a year to be regulated under existing USDA dog "dealer" regulations. These regulations are designed for high-volume commercial kennels that produce puppies for wholesale or research, and require a USDA commercial license, maintenance of specified commercial kennel engineering standards and regular inspections. These requirements are not appropriate for small breeders who may keep only a few dogs in their homes.

AKC’s specific concerns with PUPS include the following:

• Defines “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 co- and joint ownerships common among dog owners, dog show participants, hunting club members, sporting dog trainers and other hobbyists. This would hurt many small hobby breeders who keep or breed only a few dogs in their homes by subjecting them to commercial standards of regulation as a result of agreements they maintain with other small breeders.

• Defines “high volume retail breeder” as someone with “an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs”. Because the threshold for regulation is based on the number of dogs bred and sold, any reference to the number of dogs owned or in custody is unnecessary and potentially misleading.

• Defines “breeding female” as an intact female dog aged 4 months or older. This is misleading and implies that a female dog may be bred at 4 months. Female dogs are not sufficiently mature at 4 months of age to be bred and should not be deemed “breeding females”.

• Exercise language should be clarified with respect to the terms “solitary and goal oriented” to ensure that the daily exercise requirements do not preclude training that involves other types of wholesome activity that could fall under this definition (e.g., playing fetch, field training for hunting dogs, or the responsible use of treadmills for keeping canine athletes in top physical condition).

• PUPS would exponentially expand the pool 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. AKC believes these issues and full funding for the current program and enforcement of current laws should be addressed before attempting to exponentially expand the program’s responsibilities and workload.

AKC encourages you to respectfully share these reasonable concerns about the potential damaging consequences of this bill with your member of Congress.

To contact your Congressional representative, visit www.house.gov and enter your zip code in the “Find Your Representative” box at the top of the page.

To contact your two Senators, visit www.senate.gov and select your state in the “Find Your Senators” box at the top of the page.

AKC and AKC’s federal representatives will continue to closely monitor and keep you up to date on this measure.