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Urgent: Ask Farm Bill Conferees to Delete the Puppy Protection Act from the Farm Bill Conference Report

by American Kennel Club (AKC)


          UPDATE - March 8, 2002

          The list of Farm Bill conference committee members below has been confirmed, and work has begun to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill. It is critical that dog fanciers keep up the campaign to have the Puppy Protection Act removed from the Farm Bill. Please refer to the alert below for further details, model letters and talking points for use in contacting your Senators and Representatives. Every phone call and fax counts!

          February 21, 2002

          On February 13, 2002 the Senate voted to include the Puppy Protection Act in the Senate farm bill. Although Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the lead sponsor of the PPA, made several minor last minute alterations in the bill, it is still unacceptable to purebred dog fanciers. Senator Santorum continues to tell fanciers and his colleagues that the PPA targets only "puppy mills" and will not affect hobby and show breeders. However, Senator Santorum rejected AKC's efforts to include language in the PPA, and even in Senate floor discussion, that would limit the PPA only to the commercial breeders currently regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.

          The farm bill now heads to a "conference committee" of Senators and Representatives who will attempt to reconcile differences in the Senate and House versions and produce a "clean bill" that the two chambers can agree on and send to the President. The conferees have their work cut out for them. The Senate farm bill, which is not yet printed, is expected to run to nearly 1400 pages because of all the non-farm-program content like the PPA inserted by various senators. The House bill is "only" about 350 pages.

          There is no PPA provision in the House farm bill. Therefore the conferees have broad latitude to drop the PPA from the farm bill completely, adopt the Senate version of the PPA, or come up with a different provision. The AKC is urging conferees to eliminate the PPA from the farm bill.

          Although the conferees for the farm bill have not yet been named, a list of likely conferees appears at the end of this alert. This list will be updated if necessary. All fanciers are urged to communicate with your Senators and Representative and ask them to eliminate the PPA from the farm bill. Two model letters are included at the end of this alert, one for persons who are constituents of conferees and one for those who are not constituents of conferees. Even if your senators or representative are not conferees, you can still help by sending the model letter below, or a letter you make up yourself, asking your member to talk to the conferees and urge them to drop the PPA from the farm bill. This kind of member-to-member lobbying can be very effective. For fanciers who are constituents of conferees, your letters directly to the conferees are obviously very important.

          Congress is under great pressure to conference the farm bill quickly because the agricultural planting season is rapidly approaching. Therefore, contacts with conferees must be made immediately. Please remember that the number of communications is important. Don't rely only on your club secretary or Legislative Liaison to make a contact. Every fancier should make a contact.

          U.S. mail to the Washington D.C. offices of Senators and Representatives is still very slow because of the anthrax scare. However, written communications are still the most effective. Therefore, we suggest faxing your letter to your members at the Washington office fax numbers shown below. We have provided local office telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for those who do not want to write a letter. Phone calls and e-mails are helpful, but letters are most effective. (Don't hesitate to do all three.)

          Following are the AKC's objections to the PPA provisions in the Senate farm bill:

  • The PPA requires the federal government to set standards for when to breed and how frequently to breed dogs. The decision on whether and when to breed should be made by owners, not the federal government. Currently the Animal Welfare Act does not regulate breeding practices for any species regulated under the Act. We believe it is a dangerous precedent and unnecessary for the federal government to begin attempting to control the breeding of domestic animals.

  • The PPA requires the federal government to establish and enforce "socialization" standards for puppies and dogs. There is no basis in current science, and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists, as to what constitutes acceptable "socialization standards". Breeders follow a myriad of different practices for socializing dogs and puppies depending on the circumstances in which the animals are kept, the purposes for which they are breed, and differences in breeds and in individual dogs. Forcing the federal government to develop and enforce a socialization standard would mire the government in endless controversy, and would become an enforcement nightmare.

  • The PPA imposes a three-strikes-and-you're-out standard on violators of the Animal Welfare Act. This provision does not give the USDA any authority it does not already have; it only reduces the discretion of the Department in dealing with violators. It will mire the Department down in bureaucratic requirements and litigation because it will create an incentive for dealers to challenge every violation rather than providing an incentive to come into compliance. It does not address the real enforcement problem, which is persons operating without a license or with a suspended or revoked license.

  • Although the proponents of the PPA say that it is intended to apply only to the approximately 3000 dog dealers licensed under current USDA regulations, the same groups are supporting litigation that would bring all persons who buy or sell dogs for hunting, breeding or security purposes, or for use as a pet, under licensing except actual retail pet stores. This would require USDA to go into hundreds of thousands of individual homes to inspect and regulate the conditions under which hobby and show breeders and ordinary pet owners maintain their pets, including how and when they breed and how they socialize their dogs and puppies.

Likely Farm Bill Conferees:

Senate

The Hon. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
[email protected]
202-224-5054
202-224-9450 (fax)
District offices: Jackson, 601-965-4459;
Oxford, 662-236-1018

The Hon. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
[email protected]
202-224-2043
202-224-7776 (fax)
District offices: Bismark, 701-258-4648; Fargo, 701-232-8030; Grand Forks, 701-775-9601; Minot, 701-852-0703

The Hon. Tom Daschle (D-SD)
[email protected]
202-224-2321
202-224-7895 (fax)
District offices: Aberdeen, 605-225-8823; Sioux Falls, 605-334-9596; Rapid City, 605-348-7551

* The Hon. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
[email protected]
202-224-3254
202-224-9369 (fax)
District offices: Des Moines, 515-284-4574; Cedar Rapids, 3196-365-4504;
Davenport, 319-322-1338 Dubuque,
319-582-2130; Sioux City, 712-252-1550

The Hon. Jesse Helms (R-NC)
[email protected]
202-224-6342
202-228-1339 (fax)
District offices: Raleigh, 919-856-4630, Hickory, 828-322-5170

* The Hon. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
[email protected]
202-224-4242
202-224-3479 (fax)
District offices: Burlington, 802-863-2525; Montpelier, 802-229-0569

The Hon. Richard Lugar (R-IN)
[email protected]
202-224-4814
202-228-0360
District offices: Indianapolis, 317-226-5555; Jeffersonville, 812-288-3377; Ft. Wayne,
219-422-1505; Merrillville, 219-736-9084; Evansville, 812-465-6313

House

The Hon. John Boehner (R-OH)
[email protected]
202-225-6205
202-225-0704 (fax)
District offices: Hamilton, 513-870-0300; Troy, 937-339-1524

The Hon. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
[email protected]
202-225-6531
202-225-3013 (fax)
District offices: Macon, 912-752-0800; Waycross, 912-287-1180

The Hon. Eva Clayton (D-NC)
[email protected]
202-225-3101
202-225-3354 (fax)
District offices: Norlina, 252-456-4800; Greenville, 252-758-8800

The Hon. Larry Combest (R-TX)
www.house.gov/writerepl
202-225-4005
202-225-9615 (fax)
District offices: Lubbock, 806-763-1611; Amarillo, 806-353-3945; Odessa, 915-332-0742

The Hon. Gary Condit (D-CA)
[email protected]
202-225-6131
202-225-0819 (fax)
District offices: Modesto, 209-527-1914;
Mered, 209-383-4455

The Hon. Calvin Dooley (D-CA)
www.house.gov/writerepl
202-225-3341
202-225-9308 (fax)
District office: Fresno, 559-441-7496

The Hon. Terry Everett (R-AL)
[email protected]
202-225-2901
202-225-8913 (fax)
District offices: Dothan, 334-794-9680, Montgomery, 334-277-9113, Opp, 334-493-9253

The Hon. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
[email protected]
202-225-5431
202-225-9681 (fax)
District offices: Roanoke, 540-857-2672, Staunton, 540-885-3861, Harrisonburg,
540-432-2391; Lynchburg, 804-845-8306

The Hon. Tim Holden (D-PA)
www.house.gov/writerepl
202-225-5546
202-226-0996 (fax)
District offices: Pottsville, 570-622-4212, Reading, 610-371-9931

The Hon. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
[email protected]
202-225-5565
202-225-8698 (fax)
District offices: Oklahoma City, 405-235-5311; Woodward, 580-256-5752; Enid, 580-233-9224; Clinton, 580-323-6232

The Hon. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
[email protected]
202-225-2715
202-225-5124 (fax)
District offices: Hutchinson, 316-665-6138; Hays, 785-628-6401

The Hon. Collin Peterson (D-MN)
[email protected]
202-225-2165
202-225-1593 (fax)
District offices: Detroit Lakes, 218-847-5056; Waite Park, 320-259-0559; Red Lake Falls,
218-253-4356

The Hon. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
[email protected]
202-225-1947
202-226-0861 (fax)
District office: Stockton, 209-951-3091

The Hon. Charles Stenholm (D-TX)
www.house.gov/writerepl
202-225-6605
202-225-2234 (fax)
District offices: Stamford, 915-773-3623; Abilene, 915-673-7221,
San Angelo, 915-655-7994

(*) indicates cosponsor of the PPA

 

          MODEL LETTER TO BE SENT TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO ARE FARM BILL CONFEREES

Dear [Senator/Congressman _________]:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the inclusion of the Santorum "Puppy Protection Act" (PPA) in the Senate farm bill (S. 1731/H.R.2646). I understand that you are likely to be a conferee on the farm bill. For the reasons below, I am asking that you strike the "Puppy Protection Act from the conference report on the farm bill.

[Include a SHORT paragraph about yourself and your dog interest, pointing out that you are a constituent of the conferee. Use the following as a model: "I live in [city and state]. I have bred, owned and shown Dalmatians for more than 15 years. I breed and raise a litter of puppies occasionally in my own home and sell my puppies at retail directly to persons who purchase them as their own household pet or for show or breeding purposes."]

No hearings and no debate was ever held on the PPA in either the Senate or the House. The language of the PPA circumvented the normal legislative process, and the need for this legislation has not been established.

The PPA would, for the first time, inject the federal government into controlling the breeding of domestic animals. The Animals Welfare Act currently does not regulate the breeding of any animal species. This is not an issue the federal government should become involved in. The PPA also requires the federal government to regulate the socialization of dogs and puppies. There is no scientific basis, and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists, about standards for socialization of puppies and adult dogs. The PPA sets a dangerous precedent for the intrusion of the federal government into new areas of regulation that should remain the province of breeders.

The amendment also contains new enforcement provisions that would actually reduce the USDA's enforcement discretion in obtaining compliance with its regulations by dog dealers. It would mire the agency in bureaucratic requirements and litigation, resulting in less rather than more effective enforcement.

Again, I strongly urge you as a likely farm bill conferee not to support inclusion of the PPA in the conference report on the farm bill.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
MODEL LETTER TO BE SENT TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
WHO ARE NOT FARM BILL CONFEREES

Dear [Senator/Congressman _________]:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to inclusion of the Santorum "Puppy Protection Act" (PPA) as an amendment to the Senate farm bill (S. 1731/H.R.2646). For the reasons below, I am asking that you speak to your colleagues who will be conferees on the farm bill and ask them to strike the "Puppy Protection Act" from the conference report on the farm bill.

[Include a SHORT paragraph about yourself and your dog interest, using the following example as a model. "I have owned, bred and shown Dalmatians for more than 15 years. I breed and raise a litter of puppies occasionally in my own home and sell my puppies at retail directly to persons who purchase them as their own household pet or for show or breeding purposes."]

No hearings and no debate was ever held on the Santorum amendment in either the Senate or the House. The need for this legislation has not been established, and the language of the amendment circumvented the normal legislative process.

The PPA would, for the first time, inject the federal government into controlling the breeding of domestic animals. The Animals Welfare Act currently does not regulate the breeding of any animal species. This is not an issue the federal government should become involved in. The PPA also requires the federal government to regulate the socialization of dogs and puppies. There is no scientific basis, and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists, about standards for socialization of puppies and adult dogs. The PPA sets a dangerous precedent for the intrusion of the federal government into new areas of regulation that should remain the province of breeders.

The amendment also contains new enforcement provisions that would actually reduce the USDA's enforcement discretion in obtaining compliance with its regulations by dog dealers. It would mire the agency in bureaucratic requirements and litigation, resulting in less rather than more effective enforcement.

Again, please discuss this provision with your colleagues who are farm bill conferees, and ask them to remove the PPA from the final bill.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

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