Thursday, September 12, 2013

New USDA APHIS Guidelines are Bullshit

*Disclaimer: I am going to try not to rant. I am going to try really, really hard not to rant. Sorry in advance if I end up ranting :).

On Tuesday, the USDA announced that APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has revised the 'definition' of retail pet store in the Animal Welfare Act. Sounds good huh? The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been pushing hard to crack down on puppy mills and regulate the internet sales of dogs. Great intentions, sure, but you know what they say about great intentions...well, here is our road to hell.

It Begins

So while HSUS has been telling the public this is to 'fix the puppy mill problem' the actual reality of this regulatory action is violating the Fourth Amendment rights of everyone with a dog and punishing good breeders or 'hobby breeders' who actually do things right. In government terms they are revising and updating the 'Retail Pet Store' rule or RIN 0579-AD57. But that actually affects more than you think, the government loves to sneak things in while you are focusing on a different point. Gawd, I hate politics. Let's review:
  • The definition of a retail pet store updated to state - A place of business or residence at which the seller, buyer, and the animal available for sale are physically present so that every  buyer may personally observe the animal prior to purchasing and/or taking custody of that animal after purchase, and where only certain animals are sold or offered for sale, at retail, for use as pets.
  • Ironically enough, actual pet stores are not required to be licensed and inspected under the AWA. Regardless of the fact that they are supplied by the puppy mills and have crappy living conditions, nice huh?
  • Also, if you have four or less breeding female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals on your premise than you are exempt from the licensing and inspection requirements.
  • But what do they define as a breeding female? Is there an age limit? Any guiding factors? Dr. Rushin (a Veterinary Medical Officer listed on the docket) had this to say - "We will determine a breeding female dog by our determination if its a breeding female. If we think it has a capacity to be bred, it's a breeding female." Great, so they are just going to make determinations on a whim. I love their determination skills. Maybe I just love the word determination. What I also find ridiculous is who says that the 'breeder' is breeding all of their females?? But the government says they COULD be bred so obviously that means that you WILL <inserting eye roll here>. Government says sorry you have 5 intact bitches, you have to comply, BAM. This alone will affect the small-scale breeders (think show, performance, etc.) who usually keep multiple intact bitches but don't breed multiple litters a year. Do you think these 'breeders' should have to keep their dogs under AWA regulations, which does not allow them to keep their dogs or whelp their litters in their homes? <see last bullet point>
  • Section 2146 of the AWA explicitly authorizes inspections of licensees to determine compliance with the AWA.
  • So this also subjects people's private homes to possible unannounced government inspections for AWA compliance. Hello, anyone heard of the Fourth Amendment?!? That whole unlawful search and seizure thing?!?
  • The AWA responds that such inspections are limited to only those areas that impact the well-being of the animals, such as areas where food and medicine for the animal are stored.
  • So how does raiding 'selected' parts of my house work? I'm pretty sure the Fourth Amendment covers the whole house. You certainly can't get to parts of my house where food and medicine are stored without going through other parts. Interesting tactic though.
  • There would also have to be compliance with 9 CFR part 3.
  • 9 CFR part 3 is an extremely long document detailing the conditions of proper housing. It's all rather sterile :). Anyways, in recap it requests you to not raise your litter in your nice house but rather move it a sterile concrete kennel with no furniture. But hey it'll have a nice floor drain and sprinkler system, that's what matters after all. Nevermind that a puppy's socialization period is between 3 and 8 weeks and they need to be exposed to as much LIFE as they can be so they won't be scared later. Nope, we'll just stick them in concrete kennels outside with limited human contact. How is that not a puppy mill again??

Those are what I deem the most interesting parts. There are plenty more and they deal with other animals besides dogs. So be in the know. Read the guidelines. Realize that what they say it covers and what it actually covers are two different things (since when is this new in politics??). All this bill does is slaughter small, responsible hobby breeders and pave the way for the puppy mills to own the market. Puppy mills are already paying these fees, so what is going to change for them? Nothing. They will still be able to sell puppies over the web and still have several hundred breeding dogs. Pet stores are getting supplied by puppy mills, what will change for them? Nothing, they are exempt. The details are scary people.

Has it occurred to you yet this is NOT making Internet sales illegal? (Which wasn't that the whole point of this revising issue?) Nope, it is simply requiring those breeders to be USDA licensed. It's not making puppy mills go away, it's only decimating the small-time dog fanciers who breed to actually improve their breed of dog. So if you want a puppy from a responsible breeder who raises their puppies in their home, sorry no luck. For those of you who enjoy having purebred dogs as part of the family, get ready to welcome a puppy mill lemon as your only option in the future.

Educate Yourself.

Over legislate much??

Please use the APHIS comment form and tell them how this is a poorly thought out rule.


  1. I'm speechless. And pissed. Why is it that every time big gov't says they're making something better it ends up being worse? I'd like to make a rational, thoughtful comment here but everything in my head sounds like a Lewis Black routine. So instead I'm going to say thank you for the info.

    1. I know, I had to reread my post several times to keep the tone at least somewhat nice :). Government never makes anything better and while this isn't final YET, with all the backing the HSUS and ASPCA has done for it, the general public has no idea what is going on and will probably support it.