Pet Stores Redefined to Protect Animals and Buyers

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In my opinion, a recent announcement from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was good news, but some of you are sure to disagree when hearing that the Animal Welfare Act's definition of a "retail pet store" has been revised.

The effect of the new wording is to include internet pet retailers under the umbrella of the Animal Welfare Act while still exempting brick and mortar pet stores from regulation. The reasoning behind this may not be immediately apparent, but it goes something like this. Consumers who purchases pets from a brick and mortar store are in a position to judge for themselves if the retailer is offering healthy animals for sale, taking care of them properly, and whether or not they want to support the business. In effect, consumers can police this side of the industry by only purchasing animals from well-run establishments.

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On the other hand, internet businesses typically sell their pets sight unseen. Consumers cannot make an informed choice in these cases, so government regulation becomes necessary. In truth, I'd like to see all pet retailers held to the minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act, but since the expense of this is prohibitive, this change is the best that can be reasonably expected. According to the USDA's press release:

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"Today's announcement fulfills a commitment APHIS made in response to an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit on dog breeders. The 2010 audit found that more than 80 percent of sampled breeders were not being monitored or inspected to ensure their animals' overall health and humane treatment resulting in some buyers receiving unhealthy pets-especially dogs. Instead, these breeders were selling pets over the Internet and claiming "retail pet store" status, exempting themselves from oversight by both consumers and APHIS.

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"Many animal rescue groups, pounds, shelters and humane societies will continue to be exempt from APHIS regulations. Also exempt are the following: people who breed and sell working dogs; people selling rabbits for food, fiber (including fur) or for the preservation of bloodlines; children who raise rabbits as part of a 4-H project; operations that raise, buy and sell farm animals for food or fiber (including fur); and businesses that deal only with fish, reptiles and other cold-blooded animals.

"The change in regulations will also increase from three to four the number of breeding females (dogs, cats or small exotic/wild pocket pets) that people may maintain before they would be required to be licensed under the Animal Welfare Act. This will allow APHIS to better concentrate its resources on ensuring the welfare of animals at larger breeding operations. Breeders who maintain four or fewer breeding females are considered hobby breeders who already provide sufficient care to their animals without APHIS' oversight - provided they only sell the offspring of animals born and raised on their premises for pets or exhibition."

What do you think? Is the AWA's new definition of "retail pet store" a move in the right direction?

Dr. Jennifer Coates

"Pet Stores Redefined to Protect Animals and Buyers" originally appeared on

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American Woman

So, what the new anti-breeding rule says is more than 5 breedable females (of any of the pet species, so could be 2 dogs, 2 hamsters, 2 rabbits) means you have to be USDA licensed if you ship even ONE (and it must have been born and raised on your place) animal as a pet sight unseen. Doesn't matter if you came highly referenced, if the buyer knows you but lives far off and would gladly waiver his face-to-face requirement--nope, must be licensed INCLUDING USDA approved *commercial facilities*, i.e., washable floors and walls, no couches, no carpets. In other words, NOT kept in your home as the "primary enclosure". How insane is that? How anti-breeding is that? How unenforceable is that? ALL of these (except, anti-breeding zombies will be turning in hundreds and maybe thousands of breeders to harass).

How can a veterinarian and the AVMA support this horrendous rule (obviously heavily influenced by the animal rights anti-breeding organizations)? Have you read the details? Obviously not--just the press releases by the pro-Rule folks. The DEVIL is in the details, and having many decisions made on a "case-by-case" basis is opening the door for anti-breeding-trained inspectors to destroy good pet animal breeders. (Remember: a cobweb in a corner or dust on a fence can earn you an APHIS citation and potential fine!)

If they REALLY WANTED to net in commercial breeders instead of almost ALL home breeders, they would have set standards like (10, 12, ???) minimum breeding females (not old or too young, which are at the inspectors case-by-case decision-making--oh, gee, inspector doesn't like breeders anyway--guess what, he'll find a way to run you out of business) AND include a minimum # sold (e.g., 25, 30,50,??). To say that if you have 5 breedable females (of all of the covered species) and ship ONE sight unseen, you must be licensed is OUTRAGEOUS and UNACCEPTABLE. I don't breed any of the covered species, but I find this Rule to be an overreach pandering to the AR infiltration and influence in the USDA (H$U$, A$PCA, ALDF, etc.).

October 04 2013 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Consumers who purchases pets from a brick and mortar store are in a position to judge for themselves if the retailer is offering healthy animals for sale, taking care of them properly, and whether or not they want to support the business. In effect, consumers can police this side of the industry by only purchasing animals from well-run establishments."
ah so now the "public' is charged with selecting a healthy pet from a I guess then all of these people who have class actions suits against pet stores because they decided to buy a pet there have no leg to stand upon.. GOOD. everyone of these suits should be dropped right now today.. don;t you agree? I certainly do..I also guess all of these picketers will leave the streets in front of pet stores because now this rule is passed and we now know that all of these puppies come from great homes before coming to the shop.. right?? People should have a choice of where to buy their pets including sight unseen if that is their choice. Pets have been sold sight unseen forever.. or close to it.. adverts in magazines, newspaper and more.. pets have been shipped sight unseen on train, by boat and more recently by plane where each pet must undergo a veterinarian health check BEFORE it is shipped.. so why does this rule say transactions must be "face to face"? You have glossed over many important parts of these rules that will decimate some breeds of dogs.. not to mention all of the other animals listed ( including domestic farms animals..)
Rather shallow coverage of a very complicated issue.. but then perhaps you yourself do not understand the rule.. or you do and don;t care and then there is always that third choice I mentioned..

October 04 2013 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

so Dr Coates you are now a proponent of buying your pet at the local pet shop? That is exactly what you are saying.. Good enough for USDA/AHPIS .. good enough for Dr Coates. Love the headline and the photo.. glass between the dog and child and look at you "protecting"animals and buyers but saying the best place to buy your pet is at a pet store..You must need to drum up business.. or you are completely off track .. there is a third choice.. you work for the HSUS

October 04 2013 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good?! Really?!

AR proponents pressing to outlaw petshops on the local level, although regularly reviewed by state inspectors and in the public view for 8 - 12 hours almost every day.

Re-classifying breeders of purebred animals, the ones funding scientific research to improve states of health not the HSUS or ASPCA, under the pejorative term P-M to facilitate manipulation of public opinion on this subject?

Rather moronic logic on parade, really.

October 04 2013 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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