We have received no response as of November 9, 2013
Dear Chairman Kalter and Members of the Board:
I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders regarding the recently announced USDA Animal Welfare Act rule.
The Federation has been extremely pleased by the strides AKC has made in the past couple of years in responding to the needs of our clubs and breeders. Fanciers who once looked upon you as just a registry for their puppies have become openly supportive of your outreach projects,your breeder support, and community services. Government relations in particular has earned respect. A new excitement about AKC has been evident at shows and in club meetings. ‘Out here in the field’ we have seen a definite positive swing of opinion about the usefulness of supporting AKC.
AKC’s limp response to the new APHIS rule has been a terrible shock and disappointment. The new rule dramatically shrinks the ‘retail pet store’ exemption on which essentially all hobby breeders rely, yet you seem to accept what APHIS employees say is the benign intent of the rule to decide that it will not affect show, performance, or small commercial kennels.
In general if an exemption is not in the actual rule it is worthless as a defense and that’s especially true in administrative law. If APHIS enforcement is looser than the rule as written, animal rights organizations will sue to compel letter-of-the-law enforcement and if adjustments are made to allow some licensees to breed in their homes then already-licensed commercial breeders will join the AR suits or bring their own.
It is probably true that many hobbyists and currently unlicensed small commercial breeders could change their practices (in ways that would increase their costs) so as to continue operating without becoming licensed. However very few of us are lawyers, the rule is complex, several gray areas have been repeatedly described as having ‘case by case’ enforcement, and the Federation believes that most small breeders will feel that the risk is too great.
Many will stop breeding; some who now register their puppies may decide to reduce their exposure by not doing so. Where will the future show dogs come from? Who will be tomorrow’s show entrants and club members? What happens to the AKC (and the Virginia Federation as well as the other state federations) if the breeding stops and the clubs go away?
Irreparable harm is about to be done to the interests of the purebred dog community. Once breeders and bloodlines are lost, those breeding programs and their AKC registrations mostly won’t be recoverable. This will begin immediately: We know of one cattery that has already closed and several kennels that will do so as soon as the rule goes into effect. Some Federation clubs are scared to death.
Regardless of intent, the end result of this rule will be a greater fraction of commercial breeding, both legal (as presently licensed commercial breeders expand into the direct-ship retail market) and illegal as the price of dogs increases enough to pay the risks. Who – other than the animal rights organizations — will benefit?
We believe APHIS’s wrongdoing and incompetence in writing this rule and their lack of concern for, or comprehension of, its consequences for pets and pet breeding are violations of federal law and grounds for a suit.
The AKC has standing both though direct harm (loss of registration income and member clubs) and harm to the interests of people it represents (member clubs and their breeder members).
Would a lawsuit and injunction simply postpone the inevitable or perhaps make things worse? We don’t believe so. The idea that the federal government should regulate everything and everybody is losing popularity. The animal rights movement has taken some body blows with the RICO lawsuit and the dawning realization by the public that they do not actually use donated money to help animals. These two trends will accelerate in the next few years.
Congress will lurch from cliff-edge to scandal repeatedly for at least the next year and with a new Congress beginning in 2015 the ARs would have to start again with a new PUPS bill. The next administration is very unlikely to be equally friendly to the animal rights agenda. The pendulum is beginning to swing our way, but if this rule goes into effect there will be few AKC breeders to benefit.
The Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders respectfully requests that the AKC immediately file a lawsuit to overturn the new APHIS rule and ask that enforcement of that rule be immediately enjoined pending a decision on that suit.
We are counting on you as never before. Please do not let us down.
Mariane Herndon, President