USDA Proposes to Close Loophole on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health and Humane Treatment APHIS) is proposing to revise its definition of “retail pet store” to close a loophole that has threatened the health and humane treatment of pets sold sight unseen over the Internet and via phone- an
BigNews.Biz - May 12,2012 - USDA Proposes to Close Loophole on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health and Humane Treatment
WASHINGTON, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to revise its definition of “retail pet store” to close a loophole that has threatened the health and humane treatment of pets sold sight unseen over the Internet and via phone- and mail-based businesses. Under the current definition of “retail pet store,” which was developed over 40 years ago and predates the Internet, some breeders selling pets are taking advantage of a loophole that improperly exempts them from the basic requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The proposed rule will close this loophole, ensuring animals sold over the Internet and via phone- and mail-based businesses are better monitored for their overall health and humane treatment.
“This proposed change is aimed at modernizing our regulations to require individuals who sell animals directly to the public to meet basic care and feeding as required by the Animal Welfare Act,” said Rebecca Blue, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “By revising the definition of retail pet store to be better suited to today’s marketplace, we will improve the welfare of pets sold to consumers via online, phone- and mail-based businesses.”
Specifically, APHIS is proposing to restore the definition of retail pet storeâ€”which comes with exemptions from certain requirements under the AWAâ€”to its original intent, limiting it only to places of business or residence that each buyer physically enters in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase, and where only certain animals are sold or offered for sale, at retail, for use as pets.
The proposed rule would also increase from three to four the number of breeding female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals that a person may maintain before they would be required to be licensed, if they only sell the offspring of those animals born and raised on their premises, for pets or exhibition.Â This exemption would apply regardless of whether those animals are sold at retail or wholesale.Â These changes would ensure that animals sold at retail are monitored for their health and humane treatment and concentrate USDA’s regulatory efforts on those facilities that present the greatest risk of noncompliance with the regulations.
The original exception for retail pet stores was created under the premise that consumers who enter a physical store to buy their pet can see for themselves that the pets are treated in a humane and healthy way. However, some breeders have begun selling more puppies via the Internet, telephone and mail, while avoiding oversight under the current definition of "retail pet store."Â These sales, where buyers receive their puppies via shipping, currently have little accountability regarding the health and condition of the dogs before receiving them. There have been many reports of unhealthy puppies obtained sight unseen via the Internet.