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Legislative Committee Report and Board Response on PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Statute)

Text of letter from the NCA Board to Senator Rick Santorum:

September 7, 2005

Honorable Rick Santorum, United States Senator
Republican, Pennsylvania
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: PET ANIMAL WELFARE ACT of 2005, S1139 HR 2669

Dear Senator Santorum,
The Board of Directors of the Newfoundland Club of America, a national nonprofit organization of more than 2,000 members who are committed to the care and welfare of the Newfoundland Dog, hereby voices its objections to the Pet Animal Welfare Act of 2005 (PAWS), S1139 HR 2699, as it is currently written.
In recognizing the likelihood that amendments may well be needed to the present Animal Welfare Act, our club’s legislative liaison committee has reviewed the proposed legislative changes and recommends that efforts be directed to improving the following:
1. More precise wording to decrease the threat of litigation or unintended results.
2. Consideration of potential secondary effects on home business/zoning, which could be crippling or life-changing.
3. The vesting of too much authority in the USDA to interpret and enforce unclear regulations without outside checks and balances, such as having the Department of Justice review enforcement actions. This could lead to a culture of enforcement activity, leaving the burden of proving compliance on the licensee rather than on the agency.
4. The need to incorporate language in the proposed bill directly regulating rescue organizations, which would not adversely affect our dog rescue and rehoming programs.
When convening the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Research, Nutrition, and General Legislation, which has jurisdiction over PAWS, please consider our club’s concerns as you make technical corrections and clarify some of the bill’s language to better reflect your intentions.

Senator Santorum, we thank you and your committee members for your serious regard of our opposition to this proposed legislation in its current posture.

Sincerely,

Aura Ellen Dean,
NCA Corresponding Secretary
1206 North Negley Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
and

Mary W. Price,
NCA AKC Delegate
5225 Grandview Square, Unit 204
Edina, MN 55436

MWP/AED:lts
cc: Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Arlen Specter
Senator Diane Fienstein
Senator Elizabeth Dole
Honorable Members, Subcommittee on Research, Nutrition, and General Legislation
Representative Jim Gerlach
Representative Sam Farr
Mr. Dennis Sprung, AKC President and CEO
Mr. Ronald H. Menaker, Chairman AKC Board of Directors
Ms. Noreen Baxter, AKC Vice President of Communications
Dr. James Holt, AKC Federal Government Relations Consultant
Board of Directors, Newfoundland Club of America

Message to the NCA Membership from the Board:

Dear Members:
The Board of Directors of the Newfoundland Club of America opposes the adoption of the proposed legislation known as PAWS. We do not support Senate Bill 1139, House Bill 2669, being the same bill.

The reasons for the opposition to this bill are outlined below:
1. The wording of the bill is imprecise which will lead to litigation or unintended results.
2. The potential secondary effects on home business/zoning can be crippling and life changing.
3. The amendment vests too much authority to interpret and enforce unclear regulations in the USDA without outside checks and balances (having the Department of Justice review applications for enforcement actions). This could lead to a culture of enforcement actions, leaving the burden of proving compliance on the licensee rather than the agency.
4. The effect of the bill on rescue is unclear and may adversely affect rescue.

We encourage our members to write the Agriculture Committee, their Representative, and both their Senators. Don’t think a long letter/e-mail is needed on why you’re opposed to the bill – the main point to pass along is that you are their constituent and you oppose this bill. On September 7 the NCA Board sent a letter to Sen. Santorum outlining the club's concern's with this bill.

Find your legislators and their contact information

Find the members of the Agriculture Committee

Mailing Address:
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
Room SR-328A
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6000
Phone: 202-224-2035
Fax: 202-224-1725

The Pet Animal Welfare Act of 2005-summary

The “Pet Animal Welfare Statute” (PAWS) is a bill to amend the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. § 2131-2159. The AWA currently regulates large-scale commercial breeders who sell pets at wholesale. PAWS would change the concept of the AWA by requiring federal licensing and inspection of the private homes of hobby and show breeders who meet the 7/25 threshold.

Under current interpretation of the AWA, no federal license has been required to breed dogs in a private residence and sell retail to the public.

Summary. Upon review of the proposed amendment to the AWA, it appears that the most significant change is that it will bring hobby and show breeding operations within the regulatory authority of the USDA. The PAWS bill proposes to set a threshold for regulation at breeding 25+ dogs /6+ litters per year and earning over $500 gross from the sale of dogs. People who do not meet this threshold will continue to not fall within the regulatory authority of the USDA. Those who meet or exceed this benchmark will be required to comply with the AWA requirements, which include facility standards, licensing and inspections.

There is no exemption in the AWA for hobby/small breeders—these breeders have only been treated as if exempt because the USDA has chosen to informally classify them as “retail pet stores.” The discretion of the USDA to make that interpretation has been challenged and upheld by the courts (Doris Day case).

Major changes:

For the first time the legislation creates a specific exemption for small breeders and dealers. “Breeders” who sell puppies bred or raised on their own premises and whelp 6 or fewer litters a year and do not sell puppies for resale will be exempt. Additionally, persons who sell 25 or fewer dogs a year are exempt.
The bill continues the exemption for retail pet stores, but narrows the definition of this term to exclude breeding establishments.

The bill strengthens the USDA’s ability to identify breeders who sell puppies for resale by requiring retail pet stores and others who acquire dogs for resale to maintain “source records” or documentation on where the dogs came from and to provide these records to the USDA upon request.
The bill extends the time period USDA can suspend the license of a dealer when an animal's health is in imminent danger from the current 21 days to 60 days.
The bill authorizes the USDA lawyers to go to court directly to obtain injunctions against persons operating without a license or with a suspended or revoked license, rather than U.S. attorneys.

For a full summary of the PAWS legislation, please open the following pdf:

PAWS Summary

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