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AKC Helps Improve PAWS Legislation

PAWS  - Dog Clubs across the country, including PCA, have been receiving numerous emails on the animal legislation known as PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Statute, also known as bill S. 1139);  AKC is supporting this legislation.  Opposition groups voiced concern that hobby breeders and rescue organizations might fall under the new regulations.  So AKC has worked closely with the bill's authors to address these concerns (see below).

The Board encourages members to read all available information so that they may make an informed decision regarding this statute. We welcome your feedback.  A fast way to send feedback to the entire Board is to go to the Members Only page (you'll need your userid and password that were sent with your dues renewal notice or new member letter).  Or email any member of the Board (click here) or call or write us. 

Date:    Wed, 9 Nov 2005 12:31:30 -0500
From:    Steve Gladstone

As a member of the AKC Board of Directors I have worked with our Chairman Ron Menaker over the last months to fulfill AKC's pledge to sit at the negotiating table and help to craft much needed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  

At the conclusion of yesterday's Senate Hearing, Senator Santorum told Ron and I that we were free to discuss the current PAWS environment publicly.

The laudable purposes of PAWS are to regulate high volume breeders who sell at retail and high volume importers of puppies for resale.  These two groups of puppy suppliers are currently exempt from regulation under the AWA because they sell only at retail.  As such they are considered "retail pet stores" which are not covered by the definition of a "dealer" under the AWA (the same definition that currently exempts show and hobby breeders selling from their home).

Admittedly for the first time, PAWS seeks to regulate sellers of puppies and kittens at retail rather than at wholesale.  Until now it has been simple to draw a regulatory line:  wholesale sellers were regulated, retail sellers were not.  It is, however, clear that in a changing economic and technological environment, regulation of some retailers is absolutely necessary for the protection of the public and most importantly for the protection of the animals.

Thus, the PAWS challenge is to find ways of defining which retail sellers need to be regulated under the AWA and which should not.  PAWS seeks to do so by removing from the universe of all retail sellers "exempt" categories of sellers, so as to leave only those to whom regulation is intended to apply.

These exempt categories of sellers are the dealer definition exemptions. It is in this definition that most of our efforts at negotiating the changes we promised have been directed.  It is here that I believe we have completely succeeded in our mission.

As re-drafted, the exemptions will be simple and straight forward. Qualification for exemption will be necessary under only one (1) of the following:

1. Retail pet stores, so long as they do not sell dogs they import, as further narrowly defined compared to today's universal definition.  (The "retail pet store" definition from the original PAWS has been refined through our negotiations as well).

2. Sellers of fewer then 25 dogs, regardless of the number of litters from which they come; or

3. Sellers of dogs from six or less litters, regardless of the total; or

4. Rescue, shelter and other persons selling not for profit (corporate status not required) so long as they do not sell dogs imported into the country; or

5. Regardless of the number of sales, any person selling at retail only, who has been satisfactorily inspected by a not-for-profit corporation pursuant to an inspection program certified by the Secretary of Agriculture to have standards which meet or exceed those of the AWA.

These exemptions have been negotiated with all of the groups represented at Senator Santorum's table, and he has enthusiastically endorsed them, including the inspection exemption.

AKC will, of course, immediately have its inspection program certified by the Secretary.  ALL of our hobby breeders, regardless of size or numbers of sales or litters, will be exempt without any change in their current status whatsoever.  If our hobby breeder is big enough to be inspected now, she will still be AKC inspected, and still be exempt from the AWA.

Moreover, we have negotiated benefits for AKC's current dealer registrants as well.  After certification, successful inspection by AKC will be deemed to be in compliance with USDA inspection.  No longer will the AKC Inspector and the USDA Inspector run into each other at professional commercial kennels conducting duplicative and costly inspections.  An AKC inspection will count as a USDA inspection, and the USDA can spend its dollars inspecting others who go unregulated now.

It is important to note that both of these inspection provisions - the retail seller exemption and the dealer compliance section - are entirely voluntary.  No one will be forced to be inspected by anyone other then the USDA for compliance with AWA, should they so choose.

Other changes to the original PAWS language which we have brokered include revisions to the source records requirements and other enforcement provisions.  These changes have also been agreed to, and will garner the support of, a wide spectrum of participants.

PAWS is first and foremost good for dogs.  Now, it is also good for the AKC and for all of AKC's constituents.  Not one AKC registrant who is not now a dealer will be determined to be a dealer because of PAWS.  Not one rescuer of purebred dogs will become a dealer because of PAWS.  An AKC registrant who is now a dealer can choose to be inspected by only AKC and need not be double inspected by the USDA as well. 

I believe this new version of PAWS deserves your full enthusiastic support.  I sincerely hope you agree.

Steven D. Gladstone, Esq.
AKC Board of Directors, Class of 2009

Followup note from AKC's Steven Gladstone:

Some of the dyed-in-the-wool anti-PAWS factions which united against the first draft of the bill now intentionally distort and misrepresent the new version I wrote about yesterday.  It seems that now that their prior concerns have been cured they seek out any possible reasoning in order to irrationally continue opposition no matter how absurd and unjustified.

Now the internet is abuzz with more scare tactics.  The inspection exemption for retailers and the inspection compliance section for wholesalers which I wrote to you about is now the focal point of the anti-PAWS fanatics' distortion.  They are screaming that you should now oppose PAWS because the Doris Day Animal League, the HSUS and PETA will form inspection units to destroy breeders by bad faith inspections.  My simple response is:  BULL!

Both the retail inspection exemption and the dealer inspection compliance section of PAWS II are entirely voluntary.  There is nothing in either proposal to allow USDA to force upon anyone a third party inspection.

If an AKC registrant is inspected by AKC, and if (but only if) that registrant so chooses, that inspection will replace a USDA inspection for USDA licensed dealers and will establish an exemption for retailers so they will not even be classified as a dealer.  There is NOTHING that will allow an HSUS, DDAL or PETA inspector upon anyone's premises, under any circumstances.

I also understand that anti-PAWS proponents are suggesting that an inspection exemption is unfair to UKC and the cat fanciers - CFA.  To that I suggest that UKC and CFA can, if they choose, create and implement their own inspection programs to qualify for the same benefits as an AKC inspection.  Of course they may have to spend money to do so and not get a free ride.  But since UKC's President and lobbyist each called for a boycott of AKC and encouraged registering and showing your dogs with UKC instead of AKC, just why would anyone expect the AKC, who remained at the bargaining table instead of standing out in the street with picket signs, to concern itself with UKC policies? 

We at AKC have protected each and every one of our constituents with PAWS II.  PAWS WILL HAVE NO EFFECT ON YOU because of YOUR AKC's efforts.  If you are not an AKC constituent or if you are concerned for other then AKC constituents then perhaps you should address those concerns to someone other then AKC.  Oh yeah, everyone else was too busy bashing AKC for being in the process, so now they are all out in the cold.  Perhaps just a bit short sighted?

In my opinion if you are truly a responsible dog breeder you will care about the thousands of puppies being bred and imported for sale by retailers who now go completely unregulated.  The fact is that under the newly negotiated PAWS II proposal NOT ONE AKC registrant will be covered by the Animal Welfare Act as a dealer because of this bill.  Is simply being against PAWS II for the sake of it worth abandoning those thousands of puppies? 

I think rational, caring dog people should rejoice in regulating retail breeders and importers who are indeed covered by this bill, for the sake of the puppies they sell.  Since every AKC registrant is protected from more government regulation, (and thus there is no "price" to pay by "us") shouldn't we care about the sub-standard breeders and importers for the sake of those thousands of puppies?

If you or your clubs previously opposed PAWS I can respect that.  We at the AKC heard your objections and cured them.  Now it is time to stand up for the thousands of dogs that need protection and support this legislation.  I urge you and your clubs to consider their best interests by strongly voicing that support.

Steven D. Gladstone, Esq.
AKC Board of Directors, Class of 2009


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