USDA Proposed Regs 2012

Will the USDA end hobby breeding?

PLEASE NOTE that while many proposed laws affect only large-scale breeders, these regulations will apply to anyone who sells any dog or cat during the course of a year. (It also applies to other species listed in the regulations.)

On May 16, a proposed change to how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) may administer federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations affecting “Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions” was published to the Federal Register. Comments on the proposal are now being accepted by APHIS. Don’t be fooled by the title: These regulations affect ALL breeders.

Under CURRENT regulations, dog breeders who sell only at retail (i.e., never through middlemen) are considered ‘retail pet stores.’ We don’t have to have Animal Welfare Act-compliant kennels — waterproof surfaces, separate food preparation areas, floor drains, no cobwebs on the rafters, always available for inspection. We are not inspected by APHIS or fined if we have too many ‘discrepancies.’ Here are the current regulations
Don’t be thrown by the “retail pet store” designation. We WANT that designation because pet stores are exempt from those requirements and inspections. The idea behind that is that since pet stores are open to the public, their facilities are “inspected” by their customers — that is, someone would turn them in if the animals were not healthy, cages were dirty, etc. Hobby breeders have been called retail pet stores because we also sell directly to the public and (usually) our puppy buyers come to our homes.


However, the proposed NEW regulations set up new requirements to be a ‘retail pet store.’ There will be two ways to get there:

1. You can have every buyer physically enter your home (store, etc.) at least once for each sale. Doing it this way you cannot ship dogs, meet buyers at shows or rest stops, etc. unless those buyers come to your home at another time for that same sale. In this case there are no restrictions on numbers of dogs, etc.

This is probably the most practical way for most current breeders to comply — but obviously it’s not going to be easy for most of us. And if you are caught selling even ONE dog without the buyer coming to your home, you lose your exemption.


2. You can keep four or fewer breedable females (including those co-owned with other people) AND sell only the offspring of your own females raised on your premises. In this case you can ship dogs, meet people at rest stops, and so on.


It has yet to be defined, but a breeding female will probably be any female that is intact and over four (or maybe six) months. You’ll probably have to prove sterilization with a vet certificate or equal if you’re asked.

It will not matter that you do not breed that breed, or that you have no plans to breed that bitch, or that she is owned by a different family member, or is just a pet or that she’s just visiting, or that she is at your place while you are showing her for someone else. The word in the regulations is ‘maintain,’ meaning that if you’re feeding her, she counts.

There is additional wording about bitches maintained ‘in concert’ with others: That probably means that a co-owned breedable bitch is counted against BOTH owners.

A bitch that you believe is sterile but for which you have no vet paperwork for a spay is likely to be counted as ‘breedable.’

And that “sell only the offspring of your own females, raised on your premises” means you cannot sell a stud fee puppy or “puppies back” from a bitch you sold.

This obviously will have a serious impact on those breeders who have more than four females (or might sometimes): They will have to go with having a visit from every buyer at some point during the sale. Some breeders consider that too dangerous because of the animal rightist campaign against breeding, while others worry about personal safety or the safety of a younger litter in the house.

So how this can possibly be enforced? The answer is that it obviously cannot be enforced across the board. APHIS will rely on complaints from puppy buyers, animal rights fanatics, and, yes, other breeders and angry co-owners.


If you think it might be simpler just to bring your kennel into compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and put up with inspections by USDA, take a look at the inspection form they use.


These regulations are impossible to meet in a home setting, so dogs in USDA kennels must be kept in kennel buildings.


For more information, go to Read the transcript of the conference call if you hve any doubts as to the intent of these regulations.

To determine whether these regulations will affect you, and how they will affect you, go to:



1) Comment

A 60-day comment period began May 16 when the regulations were published to the Federal Register. To send your comment, go
to!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001 You may file more than one comment if you wish.

To read the regulations for yourself, click on the PDF icon next to VIEW DOCUMENT.

Be respectful, tell how this would affect you and your breeding program and ask that APHIS withdraw these regulations. They are intended, by the way, to bring large “internet sellers” under USDA inspection. Apparently, someone has convinced them that there are huge numbers of kennels that take orders over the internet and ship puppies out with no one EVER coming to the kennel to see the conditions. No studies have been done of how many large “internet kennels” there actually are. The government cites “complaints from consumers” as proof but cannot tell us how many complaints there have been. But these regulations will catch thousands of caring, ethical hobby breeders in the net and may well put an end to many breeding programs.

2) Send your comment to your senator and representative.

Find out who they are here:

These are proposed regulations, not a law Congress has to vote on. But point out to your representatives that the impact on the country’s economy and even on APHIS’s budget is tremendous. This is over-regulation of the worst sort and will make pets much harder to find and expensive to buy.

If it is enforced to the letter, rescue organizations will also be included.

3) Send a copy of your comment to AKC at . They are hard at work to prevent these regulations from passing and need to hear from as many people as possible.

We need everyone’s help on this one. It is the most serious threat so far to the home breeding of dogs.