[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 121 (Wednesday, June 24, 1998)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34333-34335]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-16807]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
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This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 63, No. 121 / Wednesday, June 24, 1998 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 34333]]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 1 and 2

[Docket No. 97-018-2]
RIN 0579-AA95


Licensing Requirements for Dogs and Cats

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: We are considering several changes to the Animal Welfare 
regulations to ensure the humane handling, care, and treatment of dogs 
and cats, while concentrating our regulatory efforts on those 
facilities that present the greatest risk of noncompliance with the 
regulations. Specifically, we are considering revising the definition 
of ``retail pet store'' so that it includes only nonresidential, 
commercial retail stores, rather than any pet retailer. Retail pet 
stores are not required to be licensed and inspected under the Animal 
Welfare Act (AWA). If the definition were revised, many pet retailers 
now exempt from licensing and inspection requirements would have to be 
licensed and inspected. We are also considering regulating dealers of 
hunting, breeding, and security dogs in the same manner as other 
dealers of dogs. Because these changes could severely strain available 
Federal resources for carrying out inspections and other enforcement 
activities under the AWA, we are considering increasing the total 
number of breeding female dogs and/or cats that a person may maintain 
on his or her premises and be exempt from licensing and inspection 
requirements. If this number were increased, some dealers who would no 
longer qualify as retail pet stores under the revised definition of 
``retail pet store'' would continue to be exempt from licensing and 
inspection requirements, and some pet wholesalers who are currently 
required to be licensed would no longer have to be licensed. This 
advance notice solicits public comment on the maximum number of 
breeding female dogs and/or cats that a person should be able to 
maintain on his or her premises and be exempt from licensing and 
inspection requirements under the AWA.
    We are also interested in obtaining information that would help us 
determine the impact of the regulatory changes that we are considering. 
Specifically, if we amend the definition of ``retail pet store'' as 
described earlier, how many dealers of dogs and cats would be covered 
by our regulations under different scenarios for increasing the number 
of breeding females that a person may maintain on his or her premises 
and be exempt from licensing. In addition, if we begin regulating 
dealers of hunting, breeding, and security dogs, how many dealers of 
hunting, breeding, and security dogs would be covered by our 
regulations under different scenarios for increasing the number of 
breeding females that a person may maintain on his or her premises and 
be exempt from licensing.

DATES: Consideration will be given only to comments received on or 
before August 24, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Please send an original and three copies of your comments to 
Docket No. 97-018-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, 
suite 3C03, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please 
state that your comments refer to Docket No. 97-018-2. Comments 
received may be inspected at USDA, room 1141, South Building, 14th 
Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to 
inspect comments are requested to call ahead on (202) 690-2817 to 
facilitate entry into the comment reading room. Alternatively, comments 
may be submitted via the Internet on an electronic form located at 
http://comments.aphis.usda.gov. Comments submitted on the electronic 
form need only be submitted once.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Bettye Walters, Veterinary Medical 
Officer, AC, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, 
(301) 734-7833.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.) authorizes the 
Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate standards and other requirements 
governing the humane handling, housing, care, treatment, and 
transportation of certain animals by dealers and other regulated 
businesses. The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the 
responsibility for enforcing the AWA to the Administrator of the Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Regulations established 
under the AWA are contained in 9 CFR parts 1, 2, and 3. Part 1 contains 
definitions for terms used in parts 2 and 3. Part 2 sets forth the 
general requirements, and part 3 sets forth the standards for the 
humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of covered animals 
by regulated entities. Subpart A of part 3 contains the standards 
applicable to dogs and cats.
    On March 25, 1997, we published in the Federal Register (62 FR 
14044-14047, Docket No. 97-018-1) a petition for rulemaking, sponsored 
by the Doris Day Animal League, that requested two changes to the 
regulations in parts 1 and 3. The requested changes were: (1) To 
redefine the term ``retail pet store'' in part 1 as ``a nonresidential 
business establishment used primarily for the sale of pets to the 
ultimate customer;'' and (2) to regulate dealers of dogs intended for 
hunting, security, and breeding under the provisions applicable to 
dealers of other types of dogs in part 3.
    We solicited comments on the petition for 60 days, ending May 27, 
1997. By that date, we received 35,953 comments. They were from dealers 
of dogs and cats, representatives of industry, members of animal 
protectionist organizations, members of Congress, and other interested 
persons. Approximately 65 percent of the commenters supported the 
changes requested in the petition. The remaining 35 percent had 
concerns about the changes requested in the petition. Most of their 
concerns focused on the petition's suggested revision of the definition 
of retail pet store. The commenters stated that the proposed revision 
would require that many small, ``hobby'' breeders of dogs and cats be

[[Page 34334]]

licensed and inspected under the regulations. They expressed concern 
that this not only would be unnecessary, but would severely strain 
Federal resources available for carrying out inspection and other 
enforcement activities.
    We share the concern about the potential strain on Federal 
resources, particularly because we do not know how many pet retailers 
not now subject to the AWA might be affected by the revised definition 
of ``retail pet store.'' In addition, if we begin regulating dealers of 
dogs intended primarily for hunting, security, and breeding purposes 
under the AWA in the same manner as dealers of other types of dogs, 
many of these dealers would also be required to be licensed and 
inspected, and we do not know how many dealers of these types of dogs 
there are. Therefore, we are soliciting comments on an approach, 
discussed below, for amending the Animal Welfare regulations to ensure 
that only appropriate facilities are exempt from licensing as retail 
pet stores and to allow us to concentrate our regulatory efforts on 
those facilities that present the greatest risk of noncompliance with 
the regulations.

Definition of Retail Pet Store

    In Sec. 1.1, retail pet store is defined as ``any outlet where only 
the following animals are sold or offered for sale, at retail, for use 
as pets: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, 
mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, 
birds, and cold-blooded species.'' The definition of ``retail pet 
store'' goes on to describe certain establishments that do not qualify 
as retail pet stores, even if they sell animals at retail. Those 
establishments that do not qualify as retail pet stores are: (1) 
Establishments or persons who deal in dogs used for hunting, security, 
or breeding purposes; (2) establishments or persons exhibiting, 
selling, or offering to exhibit or sell any wild or exotic or other 
nonpet species of warm-blooded animals (except birds), such as skunks, 
raccoons, nonhuman primates, squirrels, ocelots, foxes, coyotes, etc.; 
(3) establishments or persons selling warm-blooded animals (except 
birds, and laboratory rats and mice) for research or exhibition 
purposes; (4) establishments wholesaling any animals (except birds, 
rats, and mice); and (5) establishments exhibiting pet animals in a 
room that is separate from or adjacent to the retail pet store, or in 
an outside area, or anywhere off the retail pet store premises.
    In accordance with the AWA, retail pet stores are exempt from the 
licensing and inspection requirements in part 2. Other retail and 
wholesale pet dealers must be licensed in accordance with the 
regulations. The definition of retail pet store was established to 
ensure that the appropriate retail facilities were exempt from 
licensing requirements. However, that definition has prompted a 
regulatory interpretation of ``retail pet store'' that includes all 
retail outlets, regardless of volume, size, or location of business. As 
such, under the current definition of retail pet store, a very large 
number of facilities that are not traditional retail pet stores are 
exempt from licensing requirements.
    To ensure that dogs and cats at these outlets receive humane 
handling, care, and treatment, we are considering amending the 
definition of ``retail pet store'' to limit retail pet stores to only 
traditional ``stores''-- nonresidential, commercial, retail businesses 
that sell primarily pets and pet products. If this change were adopted, 
many retail pet dealers would no longer be considered retail pet 
stores, and, unless otherwise exempt under the regulations, would have 
to be licensed and inspected in accordance with part 2.
    We are also considering regulating dealers of dogs intended 
primarily for hunting, security, and breeding purposes under the 
regulations applicable to dealers of other types of dogs. This change, 
if implemented, would require both retail and wholesale dealers of 
hunting, security, and breeding dogs to be licensed and inspected under 
the AWA, unless exempt from licensing requirements based on the total 
number of breeding females maintained on a dealer's premises, in 
accordance with Sec. 2.1(a)(3)(iii) of the regulations (see ``Number of 
Breeding Females,'' below).
    Because these changes could severely strain available Federal 
resources for carrying out inspections and other enforcement activities 
under the AWA, we are considering increasing the total number of 
breeding female dogs and/or cats that a person may maintain on his or 
her premises and be exempt from licensing and inspection requirements. 
If this number were increased, some dealers who would no longer qualify 
as retail pet stores under the revised definition of ``retail pet 
store'' would continue to be exempt from licensing and inspection 
requirements, and some pet wholesalers who are currently required to be 
licensed would no longer have to be licensed. We are considering these 
changes to the regulations to ensure the humane handling, care, and 
treatment of dogs and cats, while concentrating our regulatory efforts 
on those facilities that present the greatest risk of noncompliance 
with the regulations.

Number of Breeding Females

    In Sec. 2.1, paragraph (a)(3) lists those persons who are exempt 
from licensing requirements. In addition to retail pet stores, those 
who are exempt from licensing requirements include any person who 
maintains a total of three or fewer breeding female dogs and/or cats 
and who sells the offspring of these dogs or cats, which were born and 
raised on his or her premises, for pets or exhibition, and who is not 
otherwise required to obtain a license (see Sec. 2.1(a)(3)(iii)).
    The licensing exemption based on a total number of three or fewer 
breeding female dogs and/or cats maintained on a premises was 
established based on a determination that small facilities usually pose 
less risk to the welfare of animals than do large facilities. We still 
agree with that determination, but we believe that a facility does not 
necessarily have to maintain as few as three breeding females in order 
to be considered a low risk facility.
    We also recognize that, if the revised definition of ``retail pet 
store'' discussed above were adopted, a significant number of retail 
pet dealers who are now exempt from the licensing requirements in part 
2 would be required to be licensed and inspected. APHIS does not have 
unlimited resources for enforcing the Animal Welfare regulations. A 
reasonable increase in the number of breeding females that an exempt 
facility could maintain could help APHIS concentrate its regulatory 
resources on those facilities that present the greatest risk of 
noncompliance.
    Therefore, we are soliciting public comment on amending 
Sec. 2.1(a)(3)(iii) to increase the total number of breeding female 
dogs and/or cats that a person may maintain on his or her premises and 
continue to be exempt from licensing requirements. We believe that the 
total number should fall between 3 and 60 breeding females. The low end 
of this range of numbers is based on our current regulations. The high 
end of this range of numbers is based on our experience enforcing the 
AWA. Through that experience, we have determined that the risk of 
noncompliance with the regulations significantly increases if 
facilities care for more than 60 breeding female dogs and/or cats. At 
this time, however, we would like to gather more data to support the 
proposal of a specified number. Therefore, we are seeking information 
that will help us

[[Page 34335]]

determine the appropriate total number of breeding female dogs and/or 
cats that a person may maintain on his or her premises and continue to 
be exempt from licensing requirements. We are most interested in 
receiving information that is in the form of published industry 
standards, published reports in peer-reviewed journals, studies, and 
objective data. For those issues on which data or published information 
is not available, we ask that commenters supply detailed information on 
why the number they have chosen is appropriate.
    We are also interested in obtaining the following information to 
enable APHIS to target its resources on those facilities that present 
the greatest risk of noncompliance:
    1. If we amend the definition of ``retail pet store'' as described 
earlier, how many dealers of dogs and cats would be covered by our 
regulations under different scenarios for increasing the number of 
breeding females that a person may maintain on his or her premises and 
be exempt from licensing.
    2. If we begin regulating dealers of hunting, breeding, and 
security dogs, how many dealers of hunting, breeding, and security dogs 
would be covered by our regulations under different scenarios for 
increasing the number of breeding females that a person may maintain on 
his or her premises and be exempt from licensing.
    Written comments should be submitted within the 60-day comment 
period specified in this document (see DATES and ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 2131-2159; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.2(g).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 19th day of June 1998.
Craig A. Reed,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 98-16807 Filed 6-23-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P