Earlier this week, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill that would make changes to the federal Animal Welfare Act to mandate arbitrary new requirements for certain professional and small hobby dog breeders. S. 4757 – the “Puppy Protection Act of 2020” – is a companion measure (with the same language) to HR 2442 introduced last year by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1).
In recent months, animal rights or “protection” groups have been pressuring members of Congress to sign onto the measure ahead of elections. More than 150 legislators have signed onto the bills as co-sponsors.
Arbitrary requirements include but are not limited to:
- Mandated indoor space sufficient to allow the tallest dog in an enclosure to stand on his or her hind legs without touching the roof of the enclosure.
- Mandated unfettered access from dogs’ primary enclosures to an outdoor exercise area large enough that it “allows dogs to extend to full stride”. This creates a potentially dangerous environment for dogs.
- Mandated annual dental exams.
- Completely solid flooring, despite scientific recognition that multiple types of high-quality flooring, including engineered slatted flooring, is beneficial in certain kennel types.
- Mandated pre-breeding screenings. No specific details are provided for what the screening would involve or who would make such decisions.
- Prohibition on the keeping of dogs in enclosures above 85 degrees or below 45 degrees F, regardless of breed or acclimation needs for dogs that hunt, sled, detect explosives, or do other work and thrive in cooler temperatures, or must be acclimated to cooler or warmer temperatures for their safety.
Further, it prohibits the breeding of a female dog:
- Unless pre-screened by a veterinarian
- If it would produce more than two litters in an 18-month period.
- Based arbitrarily on the age and size of the dog.
While some portions of the measures include reasonable generalized guidelines for canine care, arbitrary requirements that ignore best practices for individual outcomes are not appropriate for federal mandates. Arbitrary, one-size-fits-all requirements do not take into account the broad range of breeds and types of dogs or best health and breeding practices. They also do not allow for creative approaches that allow expert breeders and owners to provide optimal care for their individual dogs and advance the art and science of responsible dog breeding.
How This Impacts You:
These measures would apply to anyone who is subject to USDA breeder/dealer licensing. Breeders are subject to USDA licensing if they maintain more than 4 “breeding females” (a term that is undefined but is generally considered to mean an intact female) and sell or transfer even one of the offspring “sight unseen”. “Breeding females” include any combination of cats, dogs, or other small pet mammals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. (Learn more).
What you Can Do:
Most members of Congress want to do the right thing for dogs, but they are not experts in this area. It’s likely they do not understand the nuances or unintended consequences of arbitrary legislation that may “sound good” to a non-expert. They also hear a lot from animal rights/ protection groups, and they also rely on hearing from constituents. Unless we help educate our lawmakers, we will be subject to bad laws.
Your member of Congress needs to hear from you. Please contact your member of Congress and your U.S. Senators today. Visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center and type your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box to find out who represents you and get their contact information.
- R. 2442/S. 4757 mandate arbitrary one-size-fits-all requirements for temperatures, kennel engineering standards, and breeding bans that are not appropriate for all types or breeds of dogs and could harm some dogs.
- Explain you are a constituent. Respectfully share your experience and concerns as a dog owner/breeder/expert and based on the talking points above.
- Ask them to not support advancing the bills out of committee.