Making a Federal Case
It’s probably no surprise to any of you that Congress has been stuck on various things for the last year or so. It might seem that lawmakers have forgotten to meddle in dog-related items, but as the legislative year winds down, bills seem to pop out of the woodwork. One set of bills that has been lurking – the Puppy Protection Act – has been gaining co-sponsors. With support from animal-rights groups, this act now has 180 co-sponsors. The dog-show community, especially breeders, needs to take action.
H.R. 2840/S. 1385, known as the “Puppy Protection Act,” is a set of harmful and arbitrary federal bills that would mandate new requirements for certain hobby and professional dog breeders. In the rush to move and negotiate bills at the end of the year, these bills could be passed.
There are some aspects of this “feel-good” legislation that codify general good practices. However, other parts establish arbitrary, one-size-fits-all mandates that are not in the best interests of dogs. They undermine individual flexibility that allows breeders to make decisions for best practices and optimal outcomes.
The Puppy Protection Act would harm responsible breeders and specialized breeding practices.
Arbitrary requirements include but are not limited to:
Mandated indoor space sufficient to allow the tallest dog in an enclosure to stand on his or her hind legs without touching the roof of the enclosure.
Mandated unfettered access from dogs’ primary enclosures to an outdoor exercise area large enough that it “allows dogs to extend to full stride.” This creates a potentially dangerous environment for dogs.
Mandated annual dental exams.
Completely solid flooring, despite scientific recognition that multiple types of high-quality flooring, including engineered slatted flooring, are beneficial in certain kennel types.
Mandated pre-breeding screenings. No specific details are provided for what the screening would involve or who would make such decisions.
Prohibition on the keeping of dogs in enclosures above 85 degrees or below 45 degrees F, regardless of breed or acclimation needs for dogs that hunt, sled, detect explosives, or do other work and thrive in cooler temperatures, or must be acclimated to cooler or warmer temperatures for their safety.
Further, it prohibits the breeding of a female dog:
Unless pre-screened by a veterinarian
If the dog would produce more than two litters in an 18-month period.
Based arbitrarily on the age and size of the dog.
There are parts of this measure that include reasonable, generalized guidelines for dog care. However, arbitrary requirements that ignore best practices for individual outcomes are not appropriate for federal mandates.
Arbitrary, one-size-fits-all requirements don’t take into account the wide range of breeds and kinds of dogs in the United States. Nor do they consider best health and breeding practices. They don’t allow for creative approaches used by expert breeders and owners to provide optimal care for their individual dogs that advance the art and science of responsible dog breeding. These breeders and owners have always led the way in advancing canine health and breeding. The Puppy Protection Act would remove their options.
Lest you think that the Puppy Protection Act would only apply to large-scale commercial breeding facilities, it would not. According to the change in USDA regulations that passed several years ago, a commercial breeder is anyone with more than four “breeding females” (an undefined term generally considered to mean any intact female). If you sell or transfer even one offspring from these females “sight unseen,” you are subject to USDA licensing as a breeder/dealer. If you fit this description, the Puppy Protection Act would apply to you. “Breeding females” includes any combination of cats, dogs or other small pet animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and so on. If you have two female dogs and two female cats capable of breeding and you sell a kitten sight unseen, you would fall under this proposed law for all of your animals.
Most legislators are not out to get you or to destroy dog breeding, but they are not experts in this area. Your representative and senator probably like dogs and they want to do the right thing, but they don’t understand the unintended consequences that can occur if they support this legislation. They have animal-rights groups and others visiting them, calling them, and telling them that they need to support the Puppy Protection Act to help dogs. The only way your legislators can find out that they should not support the Puppy Protection Act is if they hear from you!
Do not count on your representatives knowing or understanding that they should not support these bills. It doesn’t matter if your legislators are Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or progressives. I live in a red red red state with a very conservative representative. Yet when I contacted her office, it was clear that she had been listening to HSUS. Make sure you contact your legislators and educate them, regardless of their party or political leanings. Don’t take anything for granted.
It’s very easy to e-mail your legislators using AKC’s Legislative Action Center https://www.akcgr.org/. Tell your legislators:
H.R. 2840/S. 1385 mandate arbitrary one-size-fits-all requirements for temperatures, kennel engineering standards, and breeding bans that are not appropriate for all types or breeds of dogs and could harm some dogs.
Explain you are a constituent. Respectfully share your experience and concerns as a dog owner/breeder/expert.
Ask them to not support advancing the bills out of committee.
Let the AKC GR team (firstname.lastname@example.org) know you contacted your lawmakers and if you received any response.
AKC has a sample letter you can use on the web page, if you prefer. You can customize it, click and send.
Arbitrary federal mandates that ignore the expertise of breeders and the individual needs of various breeds are not an appropriate way to ensure good dog care in the United States. Please contact your legislators to educate them on this subject and express your opinion.