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The Animal Welfare Act (AWA; 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.) is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals that are intended for research, bred for commercial sale, exhibited to the public, or commercially transported. Under the AWA, businesses and others with animals covered by the law must be licensed or registered , and they must adhere to minimum standards of care. Farm animals are among those not covered by the act.
The first anti-cruelty law in the U.S. adopted in 1867 in N.Y. contained only one exception : the perceived needs of science.
Nothing in this act contained shall be construed to prohibit or interfere with an properly conducted scientific experiments or investigations … under the authority of the faculty of some regularly incorporated medical college or university…
(1) Individual scientists are increasingly unable to make these decisions behind closed laboratory doors.
Most institutions have Animal Care Committees in place that require anyone undertaking scientific research where animals are involved to first justify their proposal by full presentation to the Committee.
(3) The cost of keeping animals has become significant enough that economic factors can contribute to reductions in the number of animals used. This increased cost even prompts some researchers to seek alternatives to the use of live animals.
Generally, animal dealers and exhibitors must obtain a license , for which an annual fee is charged. APHIS does not issue a license until it inspects the facility and finds it to be in full compliance with its regulations. If a facility loses its license, it cannot continue its regulated activity. Those who conduct
research , and general carriers that transport regulated animals , do not need a license but must still register with APHIS and undergo periodic inspections.
Dealers, including pet and laboratory animal breeders and brokers, auction operators, and anyone who sells exotic or wild animals, or dead animals or their parts, must have an APHIS license for that activity.
So-called Class A licensees are breeders who deal only in animals they breed and raise; all others are called Class B licensees.
Exempt from the law and regulations are retail pet stores , those who sell pets directly to pet owners, hobby breeders, animal shelters, and boarding kennels.
Research facilities must be registered . They include state and local government-run research institutions, drug firms, universities, diagnostic laboratories, and facilities that study marine mammals. Federal facilities, elementary and secondary schools , and agricultural research institutions are among those exempt from registration .
Animal Welfare Act is a regulatory scheme of licenses and inspections to establish minimum conditions
APHIS’s Animal Care (AC) program oversees the AWA, under which more than 10,000 facilities were licensed or registered in FY2007 . That year, AC had total staff of more than 180 and an annual budget of $17.8 million.
AC officials make unannounced inspections of registered and licensed facilities to ensure compliance with all rules. Under the AWA, research facilities are to be inspected at least annually. Inspection frequency for other AWA-regulated facilities is based on risk; for example, moderate-risk facilities are to be visited about once yearly. APHIS inspectors also conduct searches to identify unlicensed or unregistered facilities.
Failure to correct deficiencies can result in confiscation of animals, fines, cease-and-desist orders, or license suspensions. AC inspectors conducted 18,600 inspections during FY2006 , which included pre-licensing as well as compliance inspections, according to APHIS. About 70% of all facilities have been in “complete compliance” with AWA requirements at the time of their most recent inspection, according to past USDA budget documents.
Example: If a cat is kept in a cage in an institution registered under the AWA , then the keeper of the cat must satisfy the following regulations:
(a) Heating, cooling and temperature. The sheltered part of sheltered housing facilities for dogs and cats must be sufficiently heated and cooled when necessary to protect the dogs and cats from temperature or humidity extremes and to provide for their health and well-being. The ambient temperature in the sheltered part of the facility must not fall below 50 deg. (10 deg. C) for dogs and cats not acclimated to lower temperatures…
1966 Law ( 1) To protect owners of pet dogs and cats from theft , the law directed the Secretary of Agriculture to set up a regulatory program to license all dealers in dogs and cats and a system of record keeping was required for all dealers and research facilities .
1966 Law (2) To prevent use or sale of stolen cats or dogs for purposes of research or experimentation, all animal dealers were required to register with the USDA , and research facilities were required to purchase dogs and cats from only licensed dealers.
1966 Law (3) To establish humane standards for the treatment of dogs, cats and certain other animals by animal dealers and research facilities, the law directed the Secretary of Agriculture to provide humane care provisions enforceable through inspections (1966 law).
(1) Definition of animal was expanded to include warm-blooded animals generally (1966 law only included dogs, cats, primates, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits) if used in research, bred for commercial sale, exhibited to the public, or commercially transported
The USDA had just agreed to expand the definition of “research animal” to include rats, mice and birds. However, Sen. Jesse Helms from NC proposed an amendment, which passed, that denied AWA protection to these creatures.
As a result, birds, mice and rats are not protected by the AWA.
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that authorizes Congress to deal with animal issues. The federal government is limited in its power and may exercise only those powers allocated to it through the Constitution. By tradition, the control of animals is a state power. In the Constitution, however, Congress is clearly given authority over laws relating to interstate commerce . That is why Congress included the phrase, “affect such commerce” in the AWA.
Source of the Dogs and Cats:Illegal, Stolen Animals
Now, back in 1966 as the AWA was just evolving, the demand for research animals was so high that there was a huge demand for stolen pets. Stolen pets were quickly moved across state lines and the system was inadequate in apprehending and / or convicting the thieves.
Risk of pet theft is not with research institutions but farther back in the chain of transfer.
Euthanized Humane Society (Private) City Pound (Govt.) Euthanized Pet Owners Stolen Collectors CLASS B DEALERS (Licensed) CLASS A DEALER (Private Breeders) Auctions Exhibitors CLASS C CLASS B DEALERS Purpose Bred Animals Profit Corp. Research & Testing Research Institution Vet & Medical Schools
The problem lies in someone stealing the animals and selling them to a licensed dealer. So, dealers are required to do their homework and require proof of ownership from those they purchase the animals from.
Source of Dogs and Cats: Legal, Random Sources
Aside from us of stolen pets for research, the use of EX-PETS generates a lot of debate.
The issue arises when local shelters or pounds sell ex-pets rather than euthanize them.
Prior owners are usually not aware of this possibility.
Class “B” licensee means a person whose business includes the purchase and/or resale of any animal. Class B licensees include brokers, and operators of an auction sale . Usually do not take physical possession of the animals.
But C.C. Baird operated differently. He took possession of the animals.
Subsection (a)(2)(B) contains some unique language:
(B) for exercise of dogs, as determined by an attending veterinarian in accordance with general standards promulgated by the Secretary (of Agriculture), and for a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of primates.
When ALDF discovered a chimpanzee named Barney in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed roadside zoo, he was languishing in solitary confinement on the cement floor of a cage. Deprived of companionship and veterinary care, he suffered from severe psychological and physical distress until he escaped from his cage and was shot and killed by a zoo employee. On behalf of Mark Jurnove, a frequent zoo visitor disturbed by the isolation and neglect that marked Barney’s daily life, ALDF sued the USDA for failing to set standards to protect primates under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
In October 1996, a U.S. District Court Judge found the USDA in violation of the AWA and ordered the agency to develop stricter standards, emphasizing the need to address the psychological well-being of primates in captivity. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey called the USDA’s failure to issue such standards. "egregious." "This case involves an abject failure in the rulemaking process…to enforce the AWA," he stated.
While the Court of Appeals later held that the "standards" set by the USDA were already adequate, they upheld the decision that Jurnove did have legal standing to sue to protect the interests of animals under the AWA. This decision established that animal activists have standing to sue under the Animal Welfare Act and has been cited frequently in subsequent litigation promoting humane treatment of animals.
The PAWS bill is necessary because currently all commercial breeders of dogs and cats who sell their animals directly to the public avoid AWA licensing and humane handling requirements even when they are selling a large number of animals.
The PAWS legislation would require that any commercial breeder who sells more than six litters of dogs or cats, and produces more than 25 puppies or kittens, directly to the public in a year be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The growing popularity of the Internet has created an unintentional loophole in the current law, allowing these commercial breeders to classify themselves "retail pet stores" and evade all federal oversight. As a result, raising animals in deplorable conditions and selling them to someone sight unseen has become even easier, and is a highly profitable business. These high volume dealers are commonly referred to as " puppy mills ."
What types of dog and cat breeders are exempt from this bill?
Smaller breeders who do not produce more than six litters per year are excluded from coverage. As a result of this exemption, the majority of the American Kennel Club (AKC) members will not be affected by the PAWS bill.
The AKC cites that two-thirds of its registrants have one litter of puppies one year, and then do not have a litter the following year. This bill will not regulate people who sell an occasional litter of puppies, but will give the USDA the opportunity to inspect and ensure humane treatment of animals at large facilities. The bill is carefully aimed at closing the current loophole in the AWA that allows commercial breeders who sell over the Internet to go unchecked.
Animal Law CRJS 230 Hudson Valley Community College Valerie A. Lang, J.D., M.L.S.