USDA Issues Rule to Regulate Online Pet Retailers

By: Governmental Relations Division staff

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its long-awaited rule that revises the definition of a “retail pet store” under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to include breeders who sell their pets online. The new rule, which will take effect in 60 days, aims to provide better oversight of the living conditions in which animals are bred in order to better ensure their health and welfare.

The USDA originally defined a retail pet store more than 40 years ago when the Internet did not exist. Under that definition, retail pet stores were exempt from the provisions within the AWA, which mandates minimal living standards for animals, because the buyer could see the animals prior to purchase, helping to ensure that they were in healthy condition. Since the advent of Internet commerce, many breeders began selling their animals “sight-unseen,” but still classified themselves as retail pet stores, meaning they were not subject to USDA oversight. This has often resulted in substandard living conditions for the animals involved, and upset pet owners who purchased pets before realizing the extent of veterinary care that will be needed.

The USDA’s newly issued rule, originally proposed in May 2012, will close this loophole in the regulation and provide greater oversight of online breeders. Specifically, the rule will require that retailers who breed more than four females (dogs, cats, or small exotic/wild pocket pets) and sell their offspring by mail or over the phone will need to apply for a USDA permit, pay an annual licensing fee and consent to random inspections. The USDA has said that by targeting retailers who breed more than four females, they will better be able to concentrate their resources on inspecting large-scale breeders.

AVMA has been actively working to update the definition of a retail pet store—both through regulatory and legislative means. In an August 2012 letter to the USDA, AVMA expressed concern that pets being sold online were not receiving humane treatment and encouraged the USDA to update its rule:

“We were struck and disheartened by the information provided in the table…which suggests that, based on an analysis of pre-licensing inspections for wholesale breeders, dogs in as many as 16 percent of those facilities may not have been receiving appropriate veterinary care; while 16 percent and 13 percent of those facilities lacked compliance with the Animal Welfare Act’s (AWA) minimal standards for facility maintenance and sanitation, respectively. In addition to providing appropriate veterinary care and ensuring that facilities are clean and well-maintained, it seems an inherent responsibility of those breeding and raising animals (whether for the public or other purposes) to ensure that the animals are appropriately housed, fed, watered, transported and otherwise cared for.”

The AVMA also supports the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act (H.R. 847/ S. 395), which would subject large-scale dog breeders to regulation under the AWA.

The USDA estimates that the new rule could impact roughly 4,640 dog breeders, 325 cat breeders and 75 rabbit breeders. For more information, see the USDA’s press release.

46 thoughts on “USDA Issues Rule to Regulate Online Pet Retailers

  1. All of the problems we in the veterinary profession see on a weekly basis are things the general public will never see or have experience with. There are SO many breeders who have given medical advice that has almost killed pets, left them un- vaccinated (the parvo vaccine is what makes dogs start barking- says one prominent breeder in our area) and provided guidelines which the client HAS to follow that are unsound and do not benefit the dog. I truly feel that you should have to have a license to breed. Unless you are breeding ethically (waiting until 2 years of age to breed, genetic screening of the most common diseases/genetic problems of whatever dog breed is being bred, temperament screening, etc) then you are a BACKYARD BREEDER. A true breeder breeds to better the breed (say that 5 times fast lol) and will do whatever possible to be sure the puppies they are selling are of sound health and temperament. You know how many breeders like that I have come across in my 10 years of veterinary experience? I can count them on 2 hands. You know how many “breeders” I come across who breed their dogs as soon as they have a heat cycle, rampant with parasites, allergies, incorrectly informing owners of all things medical with complete disregard for factual information, etc? Too many to count. We had a client who’s dog was found to have juvenile cataracts (at age 5). He was from the first litter of a champion boxer bitch who had been bred when she was 2 1/2 years old. Like I said, she is a champion, has won many awards, perfect temperament, etc. The owner informed the breeder, and guess what? She spayed the bitch- as she should have! So many breeders would not care and would continue to breed because of the money they can get from pups of a champion bitch. Breeding needs to be regulated. Hopefully the new regulations will discourage the irresponsible breeders enough so that they will stop, and leave it to the breeders who truly care about the animals that they breed.

    • I am sure that veterinary clinics see some of the worst in problems—sick animals. Just as shelters and “rescues” see the worst in neglect/abandonment. You have to consider how one’s perspective is colored when that happens. We also have to remember that the vast majority (many THOUSANDS per year) of dogs sold as pets are just fine.

      That said, if the intent was to regulate problem breeders, the way the Rule as worded just doesn’t get there. The reason for the wording is an EXCUSE to regulate as many pet breeders as possible (even if APHIS doesn’t have the staff to inspect, etc.). It will be complaint-driven (i.e., fear and terrorist activities towards breeders), and the anti-breeding animal rights organizations will have a heyday snitching on as many breeders as possible (remember: they truly believe that all breeding is irresponsible), especially if that breeder is considered low-hanging fruit or vulnerable in some way.

      We cannot regislate morality and we should NOT be supporting the “animal rights” view of morality (anti-breeding). That the USDA/APHIS has been infiltrated by AR sympathizers is without question, and this Rule is an AR-influenced abomination. If there truly needs to be something more than what is already delineated for commercial breeders, then it could have been done much better and more breeder-friendly. Instead, it is almost a blank check for harassment with the help of anti-breeding groups.

    • Interesting. I find myself amazed at some of the horrendous things vets do that come close to killing these well-bred puppies we bring into the world. Triggering auto immune diseases by pumping helpless animals full of unnecessary vaccines, pushing early spay neuter leaving the unknowing owners with an incontinent dog they feel forced to relinquish, etc.
      thankfully those are a minority…if you make all breeding licensed, you’ll get what you deserve – no place to buy a well-bred pet from a breeder who cares and stands by you from beginning to the bitter end. You deserve to be put out if business.

      • In regards to irresponsible breeders…yes. They will always be out there, just as there are irresponsible veterinarians, irresponsible medical doctors, and irresponsible parents of human children. The reality of life is that not everyone is responsible, or even caring. But, the creation of rules and regulations to eliminate the irresponsible individuals is likely only going to harm those who are dedicated, well informed and providing appropriate care. When inspectors (whose job it is to find something wrong, as told to me by a federal inspector) are searching for non-compliance and find none, sometimes there are those who are inclined to seek even the most remote excuse to “write-up” the inspected facility…as was the case in Florida during an inspection of a primate breeding facility. When the inspector could find nothing amiss within the facility, he wrote up a derogatory comment about DUST on an exterior fence surrounding the property! While this is over-reaching, it does go to show just how outrageous USDA inspectors can be. How can good breeders deal with this kind of problem?

  2. perhaps this will explain why the AVMA supports Aphis.. read this bio carefully and deconstruct it.. connect the dots to see how one scratches the back of the other.. and listen even though all of the comments here are negative all of these “deals” are done regardless of what you or I think.. behind closed doors the deal is struck and they give lip service to the hoi polloi
    and :
    There should have been some alarm that went of when Sarah Conant, an HSUS lawyer in 2011, was hired by the USDA. Before working for the USDA, she filed several lawsuits against the USDA only to then resign as an HSUS lawyer and then two days later begin work for the USDA. The position was created just for her: Chief of Animal Health and Welfare Enforcement Branch Investigative and Enforcement Services.

    Both as an HSUS lawyer and now USDA chief inspector, Conant continues to harass and file numerous complaints against animal breeders of all kinds. Listen to Dean Meyer’s personal account of facing $45,000 in violations and his run in with the new USDA inspection department, APHIS. Conant was knowingly hired as an animal rights extremist, and no one said a word.

    from the great website Protect the harvest..

  3. And, the AVMA supports PUPS? Incredible.

    In reading the comments of all who have commented, they have laid out the problems with these USDA regulations so well, that I do not need to add one thing. I just want to state I support the comments made because they are accurate and well stated.

    In terms of purchasing sight unseen and shipped…this indeed has been occurring for many many years before the internet was even invisioned! Back in the 1950s I ordered a pair of pigeons from a commercial farm in another state. Those pigeons were shipped to me by railroad! A totally sight unseen transaction. The pigeons were perfect and just as advertised. The argument that the internet creates a problem was a RUSE of the HSUS to put in place regulations which would cause harm to dog breeders, those who are professionals.

    Then the HSUS and other animal rights organizations are promoting the “sale” of animals from shelters, where there is NO requirement for certification of health status, NO warranties, and NO ability of the buyer to do anything at all if the animal is not healthy. It seems to me that IF animal welfare is at issue, then all these shelter dogs should be required to have the SAME regulations regarding health as dogs produced by breeders.

  4. More regulation & legislation is not the answer! There were regulations & laws in exsistance, to address problems, if they had been enforced! Now they will tear apart the sport of pure bred dogs! Shame on AVMA!

  5. I cannot believe AVMA doesn’t see how this will quickly destroy the breeding programs of some of the best breeders, particularly those with rarer breeds.
    But you don’t care, do you? You should! Many of us who leave will not be staying in dogs at all, and there goes your business model.

    • It is pretty clear that this will indeed not just destroy the practices who work with breeders but will also eliminate the source of many wholesome well-bred dogs for our clients to purchase as pets. Wait to see what happens to the dog population and practice traffic. By then, the great dogs will be spayed and neutered and wonderful genetics lost forever.

      • Just wondering.. With the giant overpopulation of dogs and cats.. Went would you want people actually buying pets??? Do we really care about preserving so called champion show lines when innocent animals are being killed by the thousands??

        • Ah, the AR “propaganda mill” BIG LIES coming forth now. Emily, everyone has a passion in their lives, and for the various dog breeders, theirs are the breeds they raise. There is NOTHING wrong with that, and EVERYTHING right about preserving and promoting one’s favorite dog, cat, etc.. (And no, I don’t breed dogs, so “no dog in this hunt” applies)

          Not everyone wants a pound mutt. Do you realize that one of the animal rights goals (as openly stated by them) is to eliminate pet breeding and breeders? Do you also realize that some shelters/rescues have been proposing to raise their own pups for consumer demand (Los Angeles, for one)?

          THOUSANDS of people want a breed of their choice AND they want to know the background, behavior predictability, and health history of that breed. Some breeds are more high maintenance than others, and it is a *buyer’s responsibility equally* to research and determine if a particular breed is right for them. At least they still have that choice!

          It is NOT all right for a few anti-breeders to try to take away choice. We are still a Republic so long as we have our U.S. Constitution. We are not a fascist regime, nor a socialist one, nor a dictatorship where a minority can impose their beliefs on the majority.

        • The issue of thousands of pets dying in shelters is a contradictory one. Here is why. Hundreds of street dogs are being imported from Puerto Rico, Taiwan and even China. This is to “satisfy” the need for dogs in the NE part of the US because the shelters there do not have enough dogs to “supply” the demand. You might visit this website for information on shelter statistics: The population of shelter animals has dropped dramatically over the past ten years. However, that has nothing to do with the fact that a person who wants to purchase a dog should be able to purchase a pure bred dog in order to get a reasonably reliable estimate of the kind of behavior one can expect, since pure bred dogs are raised to have certain behaviors. That cannot be said for mutts or curs from the shelters or from imports.

  6. The USDA is lock-step with this arrogant and illegal administration. The goal is to destroy the US Constitution by taking away the rights of the people. Our young people, unfortunately, are uneducated in American History and the US Constitution. They are following the meandering mind of a young, but senile illegal who is bent on destroying the US.

    The AVMA is NOT a friend of the animals – just like PETA, H$U$, and Best Friends are enemies! Do NOT support any idiot vet that aligns with them. Be very careful who touches your animals.

    • When the H$U$ backed the HVMA (Humane Veterinary Medical Association) as their own puppet vet association, we all thought that those who supported animal rights would go to that organization. **Never did we think that the AVMA would sell out animal owners and breeders.** That’s professional suicide, guys and gals. There isn’t a single outside comment here in support of what AVMA has done in obeisance to the H$U$, et al. Don’t you get it yet? Animal rights is NOT the same as animal welfare, and without animals in people’s lives, there is NO REASON for veterinary medicine to exist. Does that drive it close enough to home?

  7. As a breeder of rabbits I seldom see a vet for while my rabbits get the best of life at my place if they get something that is going to rack up hundreds in vet bills they get culled. But I do have pet dogs and cats. This new ruling is going to make me more careful in my choice of vet for my pets and REAL careful if I have to have a farm call for my horses. Vets ratting out their clients? NOT SMART! Vets associated with AVMA are going to start loosing the clients that spend the most at their clinics you know the breeders that need puppy checks and all those tests before during and after breeding. Vets will not be able to make their bills on single pet house holds that come in once a year for vac and check up. This new ruling is going to be the death of any person who has more than one s/n fat old pet and those mutliple animal people be they breeders, pet owners, rescuers or just the “cat lady down the street”: are vets bread and butter.

  8. In order to avoid any vet associated with the AVMA for my search and rescue and show dogs I drive 50 miles one way for every little medical treatment that I cannot handle myself. The fact that the AVMA helped create this unnecessary rule, and supports the very groups whose aim is to severely reduce, even destroy, their business is incredibly stupid. Just as more people are willing to spend more and more on the health of their pets, groups like HSUS are chipping away at the source of pets in the very near future – with YOUR HELP? Really? Do you realize that this rule could cause many rare breeds in America (my breed has fewer than 3,000 population now) to become extinct? Do you not understand the meaning of “animal rights” and “vegan”? Over the past several years, as I became involved in canine legislation (out of concern for the consequences of a flood of regulations against dog breeding and ownership) I discovered the pandering in your professional organization. What in the world are you thinking? I really cannot understand it. I quit my local vets associated with the AVMA, with a polite letter explaining why I was taking my business elsewhere. I didn’t feel good about it, I had carefully chosen my vets for their top quality care, but in recent years, many of their staff began to show some signs of sympathy with the animal rights philosophy – treating me with disdain, for example, for having intact dogs. These attitudes made it easy for me to leave some excellent vets who gave my dogs top quality care. The lack of respect by young women half my age and one tenth my experience in dogs was indicative of the agenda behind the mis-named Humane Society of the United States. A “vegan” organization that is pledged to wipe out domesticated animals – and your association, as collateral damage.

  9. It’s apparent that the AVMA leadership has been unduly influenced by the Animal Rights Agenda. This is unfortunate for the AVMA itself.

    The Animal Rights Agenda includes the eventuality of eliminating the breeding and ownership of companion animals as shown in the following quotes: “If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.“- Wayne Pacelle quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt, by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 266; and “It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership.”- Elliot Katz, President, In Defense of Animals, “In Defense of Animals,” Spring 1997. These are just two of many such statements made by Animal Rights leaders.

    I hope the AVMA has taken into consideration its own future in its decision to support the recent USDA/APHIS updated regulations. If the practice of breeding animals were to end, there would be no animals in the AVMA future. If pet ownership were to end, there would be no pets in the AVMA future.

    It’s just that simple, AVMA. Perhaps political “feel good” stances should be replaced by good old common sense.

  10. how much money does the AVMA get from the HSUS ? simple question should be able to have a simple answer

  11. Millions of pet owners, vets, and breeders wrote to the USDA to oppose this bill. My vet opposes this bill. It will be the end of pet ownership as we know it. It goes against everything that a good pet is all about- nothing left but the puppy farms and backyard breeders? I guess that is what the AVMA wants. More unsound animals to fatten their coffers. More owners that seek sedation and medication for their socialized puppy-farmed animals. If the AMA supports this- they are spitting in the face of all pets and pet owners. You all better get versed in large animal skills and exotic training for zoos because that is all that will be left of your profession.

    sincerely, pet owner, cat breeder, and veterinary technician.

  12. i make an effort to find vets that are not associated with the AVMA for the reasons stated above. i am a dog breeder. I use the services of my vet to the tune of some 5K per year. Why would i want to give that money to a group that wants me to stop what I am doing? And wants to stop my cohorts from doing the same thing. AVMA is now 100% in the pocket of the HSUS and I am not. All of my puppy buyers and anyone else I speak to will be told .. find a vet who does not support the AVMA There are many of them as word i getting around that the AVMA is supporting the animal rights groups bound and determined eliminate dog ownership. How does that work for you exactly?

  13. The idea that the internet is somehow “new” and that dogs were always sold “face to face” before it is ludicrous. Plenty of dogs were sold by newspapers, telephone and media other than the internet. Animals were shipped sight unseen to millions of people who were perfectly happy with the animals they received shipped by train, truck, auto and then planes.
    Speaking of that I shipped a puppy last week to a person who had three previous dogs from me, by plane. In order to do that I had to have a health certificate signed by a vet. The vet examined the puppy and took his temperature. Eyes ears, heart. limbs, and skin were examined and he required that I provide him with the puppies shot record. i gave my own injections and he required the lot number and expiration date and company that manufactured the vaccine and the dates the shots were given. He checked the puppy for parasites He recorded all of this on the certificate.. of course the puppy was too young for a rabies shot but at the end I was comfortable I was sending a puppy that was as healthy as possible. Cost to me? 100 dollars deposited directly into the vets revenue stream. Cost if I had a face to face with the puppy buyer? ZERO…. think about it..

  14. “Specifically, the rule will require that retailers who breed more than four females (dogs, cats, or small exotic/wild pocket pets) and sell their offspring by mail or over the phone will need to apply for a USDA permit, pay an annual licensing fee and consent to random inspections. The USDA has said that by targeting retailers who breed more than four females, they will better be able to concentrate their resources on inspecting large-scale breeders.”
    Your organization could not have it more wrong.. You only need to OWN five females CAPABLE OF BREEDING and it not OR it is AND as all females of any species shall be considered in the aggregate number of “Breeding females” You do not have to breed any of them. AHPHIS has already stated that ( considering just canines ) that any bitch older than 6 months and up to 12 that has not been spayed would be considered in the number
    It would be nice if the AVMA actually understood what they were supporting.. they are supporting putting themselves out of business.

  15. I’m thankful the vets in my area do not support the AVMA views on this. The more I read on AVMA stances regarding both pet and livestock industries, the more I wonder when your logo will say AVMA now owned and run by the HSUS. Of all the people in the world who SHOULD know the difference between animal welfare and animal rights, one would expect the AVMA to.

    Please explain to me the logic in this new rule of why someone like me, who has a small kennel, is state licensed and inspected, AKC inspected, and veterinary inspected should be included in this regulation if I ship even one puppy? I’ve shipped 5 in the past 7 years and each one of them was examined and certified healthy by my vet within 3 days of shipping. Most of my pups are sold face to face on my property with buyers meeting all my dogs. Each pup is examined by my vet prior to leaving, by the new owners who I require to fill out a Q and A form that requires them to check the puppy’s eyes, ears, teeth, coat condition, to check for hernias (both navel and inguinal), to check the rectal area for cleanliness, to check under the coat for ticks, fleas or flea dirt, to check the nail length and to watch the puppy run and walk to see if they notice any loose joints. The puppy then has to be checked by the buyer’s vet within 7 days. Exactly how much more examining do you believe my dogs and pups should have before they leave here for a new home? Why should I have to lose my exemption from a dealers license when I sell only retail and not a single pup leaves here without being examined if I sell a single pup that needs shipped and has a veterinary health certificate? How can YOU folks call yourselves veterinarians and work with animal rights groups whose agenda is to put breeders like me and the many, many other conscientious breeders out of business? I think you’ve gone beyond losing credibility this HAVE lost it.

  16. AVMA urges dog breeders to reduce the COI in their dogs. At the same time, AVMA supports regulations that would drastically reduce the ability of a breeder to ship “sight unseen” to even a trusted co breeder, to do any kind of rescue or foster (if you place any animal not BRED on the premises, you lose any exemptions) and eliminate the home environment for raising dogs. Animals shipped by air have to have a health certificate BY A VET. Laws already exist for damaged goods, consumer fraud, and most states have “puppy lemon laws”. Requiring all buyers come onto the owner’s premises…. AVMA apparently is unaware that many herding and livestock guardian dogs are bred on farms and ranches — and that the easiest way to transmit diseases such as hoof in mouth, parvo and distemper is by people going from one site to another. Good one, AVMA. “in order to save the village, it was necessary to destroy it.”

  17. Reading the AVMA position statement on the latest USDA/APHIS ruling immediately reminded me of a very old Chinese ivory carving I have placed in my secretary desk behind glass doors. It’s a carving of three monkeys on an ebony base depicting “Speak No Evil”, “See No Evil”, “Hear No Evil”. It’s past time AVMA got out of this mind set to speak, see, and hear the evil that APHIS has wrought.

  18. Wow … cue the theme music from the movie ‘Clueless.’ But then Alicia Silverstone supports animal rights, doesn’t she, so there’s an irony in that.

    Here’s some of what this article doesn’t mention:

    This rule sweeps under the USDA/AWA jurisdiction literally MILLIONS of retail U.S. pet sales per year that were formerly excluded simply because they were RETAIL and those sellers sold none at wholesale or were excluded because they were tiny. Without thousands of new inspectors and ongoing tip line and sting operations it cannot be meaningfully enforced, so what we’ll get is whatever HSUS (who wrote the rule) and USDA want, namely, a terror campaign against hated pet ‘greeders’ — you know, those people who now plan, produce and support the millions of new pets per year who become veterinary clients?

    APHIS talks as if big nasty ‘puppy mills’ were shipping out sick dogs as a main line of business; all they need is APHIS commercial breeding facility standards and routine (say yearly) inspections and all will be well. That’s neither the situation nor the result.

    The situation is that virtually all newly covered sellers are small, selling from a litter every few years to a couple of dozen litters of puppies per year or the equivalents in other species. Many are mere hobbyists: My wife and I are pretty close to big time as hobbyists go, with two litters some years. We know two or three other hobbyists who are larger though there are surely some we don’t know.

    Among newly regulated commercial breeders the most common might be a stay-at-home mom with a couple of kids; she has 75 dogs and nets $10,000/year with maybe 20% of her sales by shipping.

    Specialty breeders who produce working dogs of various kinds, hunting dogs, and so on are often in the under ten litters/year, retail only business. These dogs sell to a national market: You cannot do it on drive-up sales and while there are theoretical exemptions, USDA was shocked to learn that most working and many hunting (etc.) puppies actually get sold as pets because they don’t have enough talent for the work. The wording of the rule doesn’t make clear that pet sales are allowed if your intent is one of those exemptions: USDA’s answer was basically well we’ll let you sell some as pets but just how many we’ll have to look at on a case by case basis because you might just be exploiting a loophole.

    Rare breeds are produced almost 100% as a hobby; demand for these dogs is small (that’s WHY they’re rare) and a national market is necessary for them too. In theory there is an exemption for dogs sold as breeding stock, preservation of bloodlines, etc. What about those who are sold as pets? “We would have to look at that on a case by case basis.”

    NONE OF THESE PEOPLE CAN AFFORD THE COMPLIANT KENNEL NEEDED TO BECOME LICENSED. And would you WANT a blind guide dog that was kennel raised? Would a flock guardian not raised in the flock BE a guardian? Presumably you know better.

    It gets worse. The WORDS of the final rule (published in the Federal Register) require sales by all but the tiniest of sellers who don’t fit a specific (i.e., working dog, breeding stock …) exemption to be at the seller’s premises with the buyer and pet there at the same time. APHIS has told us in their FAQ, in conference calls, and elsewhere in the Federal Register announcement that as long as all sales are face to face with the pet present they could occur in some other location. When an agency’s ‘final rule’ and its discussion of that rule are wildly at variance, what does one believe?

    What I believe is this gives every APHIS inspector and his boss full discretion to enforce anything from the letter of the rule (which will be violated unintentionally by millions of sellers who simply don’t understand) to the much looser “as long as you mean well” comments about the rule. In other words, they can conduct a war of terror against anyone who rubs them the wrong way. Have you read the Dollarhite case? (Google ‘Dollarhite rabbits’ if not.) THAT is the mindset and those are the people we’ll be dealing with.

    Violated by MILLIONS? Well … you feed a feral cat who delivers under some junk in a vacant lot next door. That makes you the owner of mom and her kids. You snatch the kittens as early as you can in order to socialize them and begin selling them for $5 to neighbors but your sister two counties over wants one and she can’t come get it. Not to worry; you have a friend who goes that way on a delivery route. You don’t know that if you get her $5 you have just committed a federal offense worth up to $10,000 and possibly subject to criminal prosecution …

    Yeah it probably won’t happen but don’t let your husband piss off the inspector OR let on that you voted for the other party in the last election.

    How will this affect veterinarians? If the rule stands there’ll be just about as many pets, ten years out. The rare breeds and difficult low-price species now produced by hobbyists will be gone and U.S. produced purebred dogs will be dramatically fewer. Openly bred and sold dogs — you know, the ones from legal breeders, known to their communities, who pay their employees above the table AND pay taxes — will be largely replaced by the reverse of all that — black market untaxed ‘puppy moonshine’ with quality control about like the stuff that comes in the Mason jar. Ask-no-questions vets will have lots of work but those who genuinely love animals may be wishing they had gone into human medicine instead; I mean can Obamacare be that bad?

    I don’t think the average veterinarian is going to like the future his name-brand organization is supporting. To paraphrase Silverstone’s character: “Is the AVMA, like, CLUELESS?”

  19. Who are you fooling. Internet sellers of animals are already allowed and “regulated”. The breeders of “pet” species who have USDA licensing already sell via the internet, and with more licensing, there will be MORE selling “sight unseen” via the internet. USDA licensing has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the animal. It simply imposes AWA- USDA standards of care intended for RESEARCH ANIMALS on animals bred for human companionship. If anything, there will be an increase of animals poorly socialized, raised in isolation and semi-sterile environments, being sold “sight unseen” via the internet. USDA licensing allows this. Nothing will improve for animal welfare under this ruling. It will just make things worse. Also, it does nothing for the problem of the local “transient” problem breeding their “pitbulls” every season, selling the pups in the parking lot of the local big-chain-discount-megastore, and dumping the unsold at the local shelter. Absolutely nothing.

  20. As an employee of a large group private vet hospitals, it is embarassing to think that the AVMA either still do not know what is happening or are too concerned about some other loss to actually do what is right. When will the AVMA wake up and smell the truth, and actually fight for breeders. No breeders, no business. Stop hiding behind the political correctness.
    Sad, sad, sad.

  21. This is a great example of we in America have the very best Government that money can buy. The cash from the HSUS and others Animal Right extremist groups, have been blatant in one case alone over $600.000 dollars paid the Sec. of Agriculture’s family as a political gift alone. APHIS is without a doubt the most corrupt agency in the government, well maybe not the most corrupt, the Executive Branch has them beat hands down.

    This rule allows searches of private property without warrants, allows evidence to be taken with out any charges being files. Allows the Government to be the Judge jury and the executioner with out any public trial or means to protect the individual. These rules place people “Breeders” under house arrest as they are not allowed to not be on the property in case the USDA/APHIS inspectors show up.

    This is how these people work. An inspector is sent to a Breeders property, the breed is picking up their children at school, the Inspector finds them in violation of not being present on the property and forwards the report to APHIS , APHIS send a letter advising the Breeder they have been found guilty of violating the AWA and are being fined $10,000.00 and asks for when the money will arrive. The breeders says no I am not guilty of violating the AWA I provide excellent care for my animals, I want my day in court, the APHIS people (Most Former HSUS employees) then file a formal complaint and ask for a fine of $50,000.00. (The Government t are extorting money from people who up until last Thursday were hard working American Citizens) The Govt sends US Marshalls with HSUS people to steal all of the dogs are allow the HSUS to neuter/ Kill and sell them before anyone goes to court. They violate the AWA act themselves in the enforcement of this bad law. Not to mention the Rights we have as Americans as guaranteed by our Constitution who many of us have had family members die in various conflicts around the world for the protection of these very same rights. Please contact your Congressman/woman and your Senators to over turn this very expensive and un Constitutional law. Please take note this is a law that has been passed by not the Congress or the Senate, has never seen the light of day and now is being rammed down Americans throats. If you are an American please let your voice be heard. OH The AVMA people, almost forgot, As they watch Vet Clinics close across the nation… from the effects I am sure this represents the needs and business interests of our local vet. If they do not close you will be paying more at the vet than you ever dreamed.


  22. AVMA supporting this rule shows they hate breeders, shame on AVMA. Also, you have posted an ERROR, rabbits are not held to the 4 breeding female limit like dog and cat breeders…does AVMA even understand this rule if you make such a basic glaring error?????? Also AWA was never intended to regulate RETAIL sales so there NEVER was a “loophole”. This is a government agency giving itself more power without any legislative oversight….so AVMA supports that and supports USDA licensing of many hobby breeders? The problem with AVMA is you people represent veterinarians NOT breeders or animal sellers so you have no idea what the issues are on ALL sides, you only listen to the radical animal rightists at H$U$. You need to stick w/ what you know, vet issues, NOT animal breeding or breeders. But let me point something out, to ship animals one is required to have a veterinary certificate on each animal….means a vet saw the animal and certifies it is healthy….AVMA see where I am going with this? So AVMA is saying we need this new rule to ensure healthy animals are shipped to pet buyers….so in other words AVMA’s vets have been lacking in their job and certifying sick animals to be shipped. Obviously where more regulation is needed is the veterinary community but no AVMA fights any of that. AVMA needs to ensure your people are doing their job instead of trying to regulate breeders out of existence.

    • Hi Corinne-

      Thank you for your comments. In looking back at the USDA’s press release:, I noticed that they referred to “small exotic/wild pocket pets” as falling under the new regulation. They said “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” would be exempt.

      I will correct this in the blog post. The specific reference to rabbits mentioned in the blog piece came from this news article:, which cited a USDA estimate that 75 rabbitries could be affected.

      Hope this clears up the confusion.

      • Perhaps you should do your research from sources other than newspapers, And check your facts before posting. Hope this is not the way AVMA vets conduct their business, checking the facts after the patient has died.

        • of course it is ‘hope this helps’ is another bunch of words that means I have no idea of what I am writing abut but I do know that the HSUS told me to write it

  23. The veterinarians in my area understand exactly what is happening and do not support this ruling. They feel as I do in that all states should have their own regulations for breeders and kennels and it should not be in the hands of the federal USDA . Many big city vets just see dollar signs which only helps themselves and not their clients. They need to stand up and fight against this type of new regulation and support their industry.

  24. This new ruling has HSUS and other AR’s hands all over it. Shame on Animal Welfare for supporting it. If they wanted to do some thing productive they should have required each state to have state regulations and supervision of state inspectors , required breeders to obtain a state license to be in compliance. This should be on a state by state level not Federal. I do believe every state should be regulated by its own. Missouri and a few other states regulate their own. Other states should do the same. USDA has no business in this, they may have book smarts, but they are ignorant and have no hands on , in how animals should be raised. Once again shame on Animal Welfare for supporting this ruling.

  25. Why would the AVMA think that a lay person in a face-to-face exchange of the dog would be better able to ascertain the health of the dog than it’s very own vets who are already required to examine the dog for the necessary health certificate needed in order to ship???

    • Exactly! Why not just up the regulations on Health Certificates? Make them more stringent. If sick animals are flying with health certificates than something there is fishy? Most in home pet purchases don’t require a vet visit where things like heart murmurs and parasites would be caught? This bill is all double speak.

  26. I think you guys better be careful. You are going to “support” yourselves right out of business.

  27. USDA estimates are WAY LOW. This new rule is animal rights anti-breeder inspired, written, and pushed, as is the PUPS legislation. It is very disappointing that the AVMA sides with anti-breeding organizations that are AR-led. Animal welfare should be a state and local matter to enforce appropriate animal protection regulations that are already on the books in most areas. The federal government should NOT get involved and particularly should NOT be allowing tthemselves to be *used* by the anti-breeding factions. USDA’s estimate of breeders affected is WAY LOW–by many thousands (bet they took AR faux-stats as fact). Animals have always been bought long-distance, way before the internet, and if anything, the internet makes research for and references easier to get. There is no way the USDA APHIS will have the staff to enforce this new rule (which will affect THOUSANDS of home hobby breeders, not just commercial breeders or medium-sized breeders), and it will be complaint-driven, which means that the anti-breeding organizations and their *enabled* minions will have a field day attacking breeders by turning them in. These *small* breeders will then have to *prove* they are not required to get a license. Most will just quit because of the financial costs of self-defense and the fact that they are NOT willing to raise their pets using USDA APHIS *engineering standards* (no carpet, no bed, all washable flooring with drains, for example), which of course, is the AR goal — eliminate purpose-bred animals. Customers who know a breeder or of their reputation will not be able to buy a pet if the breeder is not willing to build USDA engineering-standards facilities, i.e., NOT in the home, NOT home socialized, as most hobby breeders do. How can the AVMA stomach supporting animal rights organization goals? Don’t you realize that part of their agenda is to put you out of business by eliminating pets? This is NOT about animal welfare or animal protection, it is about limiting customer choice by driving responsible, ethical, knowledgeable breeders out of business (or make their animals unavailable to customers in another area of the country because the breeders are not willing to put their animals in a USDA-approved commercial-type kennel and therefore won’t ship pets), and moving towards pet animal elimination. Insanity reigns in our federal government, and we the people (including organizations) are not calling them on their bad choices!

      • hear, hear!!

        the AVMA needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and make a strategic decision about how to be a force for GOOD and not the mouthpiece of the AR agenda. your credibility is teetering on the bubble.