Though the government shutdown remains unpopular with many Americans, pet breeders around the country have greeted the news with a sigh of relief.
For once in their recent history, they can operate their businesses without the perpetual harassment of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a government agency that frequently collaborates with extreme animal rights activists to make it more difficult to raise and own animals in this country.
Upon the re-opening of the USDA, pet breeders will be subject to a new rule from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which would broadly expand their ability to regulate small businesses. Under the new rule, any pet breeder who sells even one of their animals over the internet, phone, or mail will now be subjected to the onerous licensing and inspection requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Under current law, retail pet stores and small hobby breeders are not required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. The proposed APHIS rule would strip this exemption from any breeder who uses the internet, phone, or mail to sell their pets, as many have chosen to do in the modern economy. During a conference call unveiling the rule, APHIS clarified that if a breeder sells even one animal in a location other than where the animal was bred, that breeder would then be subject to the AWA. They refer to this change as “closing a loophole.” In actuality, it is a vast expansion of the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal government.
Many Americans have chosen to obtain their pets from small hobby breeders, as these dogs have a reputation of being some of the best-socialized pets in the industry. Bringing a small breeding establishment into compliance with these rules is estimated by APHIS to cost as much as $5000, a prohibitively expensive sum for many. In addition, these small breeders would be potentially subject to fines up to $10,000 for non-compliance, a risk that has many opting to instead close up shop for good.
As this rule will require countless thousands of additional inspections to occur, the estimated costs to the taxpayer for the implementation of this regulation are astronomical. The USDA assures us, however, that the costs are justified by the “improved animal welfare” that will result from this rule. Yet, no study has been done as to the nature of the positive results from the rule, and they continue to refuse to quantify the supposed benefits that the public should expect.
The purported reason for the proposed change is to ensure that all pets sold to consumers sight-unseen are delivered in a healthy condition. Their Notice of Proposed New Rulemakingobserves that the USDA has received “some” reports in recent years of dogs purchased over the internet arriving in bad health. APHIS then goes on to mind-bogglingly admit that they have no evidence to suggest that this situation occurs at any greater frequency than dogs purchased directly from a traditional pet store. Nonetheless they claim that a vast expansion of their regulatory power is immediately necessary in order to address this crisis.
Unsurprisingly, the rule is being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a group which has a long history of trying to put breeders out of business. For those unfamiliar with HSUS, they are essentially PETA in suits, and they raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year from sappy commercials picturing abused dogs, while spending less than 1% of that money per year on the actual care of animals. The rest, of course, is spent lobbying on behalf of their radical agenda to make animal ownership and consumption prohibitively expensive. HSUS is calling the new rule “a huge step forward for the welfare of dogs in puppy mills.” A “puppy mill” is the affectionate term used by HSUS to describe all dog breeding establishments.
For many years, the HSUS has been working to put dog breeders out of business in order to make adoptions the only viable means of obtaining a pet. They know that during hard economic times, hobby breeders cannot afford to comply with these costly federal regulations. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is coordinating with radical activists to implement job-killing policies through the rule-making powers of bureaucrats with no oversight from Congress. We all know that the government will again be open for business before long. For many breeders, that will only mean the beginning of the end of the establishments they spent years to create.
Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related businesses, sportsmen, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.