show your support

Animal Welfare Act

by US Dept. of Agriculture

NOTE: All dog owners MUST respond before February 2, 2001.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is a federal law that (among other things) regulates specific dog breeders. The law states that RETAIL sellers are exempt from the Act. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the federal agency who must issue the regulations to enforce the AWA. The USDA has always interpreted the exemption for retail sellers to include hobby breeders and breeders who sell directly to the buyer, as well as pet stores.

The Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) sued the USDA in 1999, claiming that the Animal Welfare Act requires that ALL persons who sell a dog for "hunting, breeding or security purposes" should be required to be federally licensed and regulated. As stated above, USDA regulations currently exempt "retail" sellers of hunting, breeding or security dogs.

On December 4, 2000, in response to the DDAL lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published in the Federal Register [p.75635-7 - see attachment] a proposed amendment to its animal care regulations clarifying that the term "dealer" with respect to persons who sell dogs for hunting, breeding and security purposes, includes only persons who sell such dogs at wholesale. The proposed amendment is consistent with USDA's longstanding policy to regulate only wholesale sellers of dogs and the exemption of retail pet stores from the Animal Welfare Act. The text of the proposed regulation can be found in .txt or .pdf format on this web page:

The DDAL and other organizations are now engaged in a massive campaign requesting the public to write letters opposing the USDA's proposed amendment, and insisting that ALL persons who sell ANY dogs be required to be federally licensed.

It is in the best interests of multiple dog owners, fanciers, hobby breeders, and hunters to support this clarification in writing. Below is a sample letter.

USDA requests that commenters send an original and three copies of their letters. Letters must be received by February 2, 2001.


Docket No. 99-087-1
Regulatory Analysis and Development
PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03
4700 River Road, Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Ladies and Gentlemen:

[brief personalized introductory sentence such as the following]I am a hobby breeder of [name of breed]dogs. I breed on a limited basis, primarily for {hunting, showing, trialing, sled dog racing, herding, etc.} purposes. Occasionally, I sell puppies or adult dogs at retail directly to members of the public for their own use and enjoyment.

I am writing to SUPPORT the proposal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the above-referenced docket to amend the Animal Care regulations to conform the regulations to the Department's policy of requiring wholesale sellers of dogs for hunting, breeding and security purposes to obtain a license and comply with the Department's Animal Care regulations. This policy and regulatory amendment are a reasonable interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act's requirement to regulate sellers of dogs for hunting, breeding and security purposes, and the exemption of retail pet stores from coverage under the Act.

Any other interpretation of the Act would require the Department, in effect, to regulate all sellers of dogs, because all intact male or female dogs are potential breeding animals, and there are no generally accepted definitions of "security" or "hunting" dog. To require persons who sell dogs at retail to be licensed if the dog could be classified as a "hunting, breeding or security dog" would potentially require hundreds of thousands of persons annually to obtain licenses, and would create chaos in the administration of the Animal Welfare Act. This would undermine the purposes of the Act, and was clearly not intended by Congress.

Sincerely yours,

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).