FEDERAL REFERENCE MATERIALS                         Material on this page © The Animal Council - 2012-2019

Note:  This website originated in the fall of 2005 and has not previously included any of the material from past USDA-APHIS
issues arising
before then.  For a number of years, the Doris Day Animal League (later absorbed by the Humane Society of the
United States) made persistent efforts to force APHIS to re-write the definition of "retail pet store" in the regulations for the
Animal Welfare Act so that breeders of dogs, cats (and possibly other covered pets) who sold only directly to pet buyers would
be licensed and regulated -- at some threshold of activity.  

USDA persistently refused to oblige and eventually prevailed in federal court litigation, sustaining their original interpretation
that Congress intended AWA to cover only breeders selling at wholesale and/or
above some de minimus threshold.  

Meanwhile, APHIS did adopt rules expressly stating that they would regulate "wholesale" breeders of hunting, security and
breeding dogs AND restrictions on the exemption for those breeders with "3 or fewer" breeding females.   The former change
was adopted March 13, 2003.  The latter change was first noticed in 2000 but not adopted until 2004 when USDA was certain it
would be able to maintain the retail breeder definition.  Its purpose was to prevent wholesale breeders from combining "3 or
fewer" breeding females of different individuals or on different premises so as to utilize what had appeared to be a "loophole"
in the regulations that had been silent on these possibilities.  

With May 2012 publication of Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003 for a comment period, scheduled to close July 16, 2012, historical
documents on these issues have become relevant again.  We have been assembling these in the table below with the current
documents in the upper section and the historical documents, by descending date order in the lower section.  
7/14/12 The
comment period is being extended, comments received on/before August 15.  Federal Register citation for Monday, July 16 will
be added when available.  
9/10/13 APHIS announced in a conference call the publication later this week of the final, modified
rule and discussed the agency's basic approach and answered some callers' questions.    
APHIS Fact Sheet 9/13      APHIS News
Release 9/10/13      Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003, Final Rule
Note, this is not the official Federal Register publication, still pending. 9/18/13 Final Rule published, effective 11/18/13 (see
table below for links).  

9/7/2016  Animal Welfare Act, 7 USC Ch 54  Transportation, Sales, and Handling of Certain Animals  

2014 Farm Bill Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, Excerpts of Item 19, pages 1125-1127
New 9/10/16     Government Printing Office 575 page document combines 2014 Farm bill AND the Conference Report.  The AWA
amendments are at pages 348-349 and Conference Item 19 is at pages 561-563 of Report.

Integrated text, AWA, 2014 Farm Bill amendments.  

Return to Federal Issues Page         New 3/14/17  2017-2018 Federal Bill Information   

Table Updated  
Docket ID:APHIS-2017-0062
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Comments were previously solicited by
Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, below and considered in developing this Proposed
Rule which will change from annual renewal of licensees to a 3-yr issuance
requiring a new application demonstrating compliance, $120 fee (reduction from
current rates;)
revisions to issues of denial, suspension or revocation of licenses;
additional animal husbandry standards for dogs requiring continuous access to
potable water, an annual veterinary exam in addition to currently required
veterinary care, vaccinations for for contagious and deadly diseases of dogs and
appropriate preventative care and treatment, and recordkeeping requirements for
veterinary and preventive care that the dogs receive.
Federal Register/Vol. 84, No. 56/Friday, March
22, 2019/Proposed Rules
Docket page at regulations.gov      
5/21/2019 - Comment period extended for
Docket ID:APHIS-2017-0062, new closing date
is June 5, 2019 (Wednesday) at 11:59 pm.   
Comments should be filed by May 21, 2019  
Department of Transportation (DOT)   DOT-OST-2018-0068                                      
Advance notice of proposed rulemaking: The U.S. Department of Transportation
(DOT or Department) is seeking comment on amending its Air Carrier Access Act
(ACAA) regulation on transportation of service animals. The Department has
heard from the transportation industry, as well as individuals with disabilities, that
the current ACAA regulation could be improved to ensure nondiscriminatory
access for individuals with disabilities, while simultaneously preventing instances
of fraud and ensuring consistency with other Federal regulations. The Department
recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many
individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities
can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the
fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred and
animals that are not trained to behave properly in the public are not accepted for
transport as service animals.
  Comments should be filed by July 9, 2018.
APHIS Docket No. APHIS–2017–0062, Advance notice of proposed
rulemaking and request for comments. Soliciting public comment on potential
revisions to the licensing requirements under our Animal Welfare Act regulations
to promote compliance with the Act, reduce licensing fees, and strengthen
existing safeguards that prevent any individual whose license has been
suspended or revoked, or who has a history of noncompliance, from obtaining a
license or working with regulated animals.
Information and Comment Submission     
8/24/2017 Federal Register Vol. 82, No. 163,
Thursday, August 24, 2017

"We will consider all comments that we receive
on or before October 23, 2017."

APHIS announced extension of
comment period until November 2, 2107
APHIS FINAL RULE: Thresholds for De Minimis Activity and Exemptions From
Licensing Under the Animal Welfare Act    
Effective June 4, 2018.

APHIS Docket No. APHIS–2014–0059, Proposed Rule: Thresholds for De Minimis
Activity and Exemptions From Licensing Under the Animal Welfare Act
Information and Comment Submission  

APHIS Questions and Answers: Thresholds for De Minimis Activity and
Exemptions From Licensing under the Animal Welfare Act

6/6/2018 Final Rule Published 6/4/2018 RIN:
CFR: 9 CFR Parts 1, 2, and 3
Federal Register Number: 2018-11892

8/4/2016 Federal Register Vol 81, No 150,
Thursday, August 4, 2016, page 51386  

APHIS Retail Pet Store Rule and Importation of Live Dogs Rule –Guidance  for
Breeders, Brokers and Importers
9/29/2015     39 page reference document
answering basic questions, i,e, this is agency
"guidance" not subject to rulemaking process.   
Petition for Rulemaking by HSUS, HSVMA, ASPCA "to request necessary
enhancements to existing regulatory restrictions on the inhumane treatment of
dogs living in dealer housing facilities."  
9/22/15    244 pages      
TAC's Comment Letter, July 16, 2012, Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003
President's Individual Letter, July 16, 2012, Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003
7/28/12  5 pages
7/28/12 9 pages
Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003 comment period extended to August 16, 2012
Federal Register Link

Integrated Text: Docket No. APHIS–2011–0003, 9 CFR, Parts 1(Definitions and
Terms) and 2 (Regulations); plus Part 3 (Standards)
5/25/12, 149 pages
6/18/12 revision to page 11, add formatting for
renumbered exemption (viii) to (vii)  
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS Strategic Plan, 2010-
2015           In addition, APHIS is responsible for ensuring the humane care and
handling of animals used in research, exhibited to the public, bred for
commercial sale, or transported in commerce.  The public has demonstrated
increasing levels of concern about the health status of dogs sold by individuals
over the Internet and by foreign dealers. The questionable health status of these
dogs erodes general public confidence in this industry, hurting even reputable
individuals selling dogs. More than 85 percent of the domestic licensed dealers
that sell dogs are family owned and operated in rural locales. APHIS inspection
and enforcement activities focusing on problematic dog dealers are key to
keeping reputable small family operations viable and thriving."  STRATEGIC GOAL
1,PAGE 2  minor paragraph
From Strategic Report:  "1 Due to increased inspection and enforcement efforts for
problematic dog dealers, the agency will likely initially
experience lower compliance levels as new entities are inspected. The 2009
baseline has been revised from the earlier reported baseline in the Agency’s FY
2012 Explanatory Notes."
5/29/12, 483 KB, 35 pages
APHIS Animal Care Program – Inspections of Problematic Dealers, Report No:
33002–4–SF, Issued May 2010
5/28/12, 4590 kb, 69 pages.  Referenced,
Docket, Vol. 77, No. 95, page 28801, footnote 1
Docket No. APHIS-2009-0053 proposed rule to implement amendment to   Animal
Welfare Act (AWA). The Food, Conservation, and  Energy Act of 2008 added a new
section to the AWA to restrict the  importation of certain live dogs, under 6 mos for
resale, exempting de minimus levels and state of Hawaii unless exported for
resale under 6 mos.  
7 USC Sec 2148

Final Rule, August 18, 2014  adds exceptions,  "Therefore, dogs imported by a
person who will use the dog as a
personal pet, for sport, for shows or
competitions, or for breeding or semen collection
are not subject to the 6-month
age restriction or any other requirements of this rule. Additionally, we do not
consider dogs imported
for training as working dogs to be imported for
purposes of resale. Thus, the rule will not apply to puppies imported by legitimate
training organizations for the purpose of training the dog to be a working dog. All
dogs imported into the United States may, however, be subject to other laws and
regulations."  Further, "T
his rule does not require that such dogs be kept for any
specific length of time
before ownership or control may be transferred, including
through sale.
APHIS understands that
dogs imported in good faith for personal use or special
training programs sometimes do not meet the needs for
which they were
imported and have to be placed elsewhere. We will still consider the dogs to have
been imported for personal use or training. However, we expect such transfers of
ownership or control, particularly relatively close to the time of importation, will be
infrequent. If we have reason to believe tha  dogs were imported into the
continental United States or Hawaii for resale without import permits or without
meeting other requirements of the regulations, we may initiate an investigation to
ascertain the purpose of the importation and whether there may have been a
violation of the regulations.


2/10/13, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No.
170,Thursday, September 1, 2011:  Proposed
Comment period closed, 10/31/11

Federal Register, Vol. 79, No 159,
Monday, August 18, 2014, page 48653

APHIS Fact Sheet, November 2014
Questions and Answers: Importing Live Dogs
Into the United States
Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003, Final Rule, effective November 18, 2013
revises and narrows definition of retail pet store to license sellers/breeders with
4/more (aggregate) females subject to policies.  
PDF        TEXT  
9/18/2013, Federal Register, Vol. 78,
No. 181. Wednesday, September 18, 2013  
Integrated Text: Docket No. APHIS–2011–0003 9 CFR, Parts 1(Definitions and
Terms) and 2 (Regulations); plus Part 3 (Standards), Compare Proposed (grey
shading) to Final Rule versions (double underscore additions, yellow shaded
9/10/13, 157 pages, reference document for
Regulatory Impact Analysis and Final Regulatory Flexibility:  Analysis Final Rule
RIN 0579-AD57
Revision of the Definition of Retail Pet Store
10/23/13, 64 pages
Policy & Program Development
Policy Analysis & Development
Docket 97-018-01, Comments of Doris Day Animal League with AHA, ASPCA,
ALDF, Cent for Compass. Governance, DDAL, Fund for Animals, HSUS, PAWS
(WA)  5/27/97
5/26/12, 746 kb, 19 pages
TAC's Comment Letter, Docket No. 97-018-1: Request for Rejection of Petition for
Rulemaking by Doris Day Animal League
May 22, 1997  
6/16/12, 105 kb, 10 pages
Converted from original Word 97 with some
unavoidable distortions.  
Note, 2003 DDAL v. Veneman eliminated AWA
Sec 2133 as basis for retail pet store
exemption.  (See case below)  
Docket 97-018-02, Comments of Doris Day Animal League with  ASPCA, HSUS,
Fund for Animals, PA Leg Animal Network, API, Cent for Compass Governance,
AHA, PETA, ALDF    8/24/98
5/26/12,  482 kb, 15 pages
Docket 97-018-02, Additional Comments (during extended comment period),
Doris Day Animal League, 9/17/98  
5/26/12, 69 kb, 2 pages
TAC's Comment Letter, Docket No. 97-018-2: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
(USDA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) under the Animal
Welfare Act in response to the request for public comment published in the
Federal Register on June 24, 1998
September 22, 1998
6/16/12, 118 kb, 9 pages
Converted from original Word 97
Note, 2003 DDAL v. Veneman eliminated AWA
Sec 2133 as basis for retail pet store
exemption.  (See case below)  
APHIS Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) consideration of
revising the definition of ‘‘retail pet store’’ so that it includes only nonresidential,
commercial retail stores, rather than any pet retailer.  Solicited public comment on
the maximum number of breeding female dogs and/or cats that a person should
be able to maintain on his or her premises and be exempt from licensing.  "We
believe that the total number should fall between 3 and 60 breeding females.
low end of this range of numbers is based on our current regulations. The high
end of this range of numbers is based on our experience enforcing the AWA.
Through that experience, we have determined that the risk of noncompliance with
regulations significantly increases if facilities care for more than 60 breeding
female dogs and/or cats
."     6/28/1998
5/28/12, 17 kb
Federal Register, Vol. 63, No. 121

Note: original comment period closed August
24, 1998.  
Docket No. 97-018-2 (ANPR) reopened and extended comment period for ANPR
for comments received on or before September 23, 1998.  
Federal Register Vol 63, No 165 Wednesday,
August 26, 1998
APHIS Response to DDAL Petition for Rulemaking based on ANPR,  "We have
decided to retain our current definition of ‘‘retail pet store.’’ Based on our
experience enforcing the regulations
, we have determined that the current
definition is sufficient to ensure the humane handling, care, and treatment of dogs
and cats and is consistent with the congressional intent
of the Animal Welfare Act."    7 /12/1999
5/28/12   95 kb   
Federal Register, Vol. 64, No. 137
Federal Register, Docket No. 97–121–1 proposing to amend the regulations to
revise and clarify the exemptions from the licensing requirements, the procedures
for license applications and renewals, and restrictions upon the acquisition of
dogs and cats and other animals.  Included  "The
intent of § 2.1(a)(3)(iii) of the
regulations is to exempt these de minimis operations
. However, some individuals
have contended that they are not required to have a license even when they keep
more than three
breeding female dogs and/or cats on the same premises as long as no single
member of the household owns more than three. When several members of the
same household (or other persons acting in concert) are each maintaining three
female breeding dogs or cats on the same premises, the activities are no longer
de minimis.
To clarify the regulations, we are proposing to amend § 2.1(a)(3)(iii)
to exempt from licensing any person who maintains a total of three or fewer
breeding female dogs and/or cats on his or her premises, if no more than three
breeding female dogs and/or cats are maintained on the premises, regardless of
ownership; and who sells only the offspring of these dogs and/or cats, which were
born and raised on his or her premises, for pets or exhibition, and is not
otherwise required to obtain a license."

Note: these proposed changes were adopted in 2004.  
5/28/12   131 kb
Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 151
Federal Register, Notice of reopening and extension of comment period for
Federal Register (65 FR 47908–47918, Docket No. 97–121–1
), proposal to
amend rules, revising and clarifying the exemptions from the licensing
requirements, the procedures for license applications and renewals, and
restrictions upon the acquisition of dogs and cats and other animals.  10/19/2000
5/28/12  243 kg   
Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 203,
Federal Register Docket No. 99-087-1, Notice of Proposed Rule to expressly
wholesale dealers of dogs intended for hunting, breeding, or security purposes
consistent with our policy and would, therefore, clarify licensing and inspection
requirements for affected dealers of dogs.
December 4, 2000
Federal Register Vol 65, Number 233
Pages 75635-75637
Federal Register, Extension of comment period for 60 days: "We invite you to
comment on Docket No. 99-087-1. We will consider all comments that we receive
by April 3, 2001."
January 2, 2001
Federal Register, Final Rule: Licensing and Inspection Requirements for Dealers
of Dogs Intended for Hunting, Breeding, or Security Purposes
March 14, 2003  
DDAL v Veneman, for USDA, US District Court of Appeal for District of Columbia,  
Reversed Federal District Court decision that found USDA regulation defining
"retail pet store" invalid under AWA.  
Opinion January 14, 2003
5/28/12, 35 kb
315 F.3d 297, 354 U.S.App.D.C. 216
(D.C. Cir. 2003)
Federal Register, final adoption Docket No. 97–121–3, review of 2000 comments,
no changes to proposed changes,
"The proposed changes to Sec.  2.1(a)(3)(iii) and 2.1(a)(3)(iv) are
designed to
close a loophole in the regulations
. Some individuals have contended that they
are not required to have a license even when they keep more than three breeding
female dogs and/or cats on the same premises as long as no single member of
the household owns more than three. However, when several members of the
same household (
or other  persons acting in concert) are maintaining breeding
female dogs or cats  on the same premises such that the number of breeding
females in total  is more than three, we believe that the activities are no longer de
minimis and the dealers need to be licensed."
5/28/12  229 kb
Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 134
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