Legislative Committee News

Legislative Committee Report for 2015 ASCA Nationals

Susan Beals, Committee Chair

Our Committee Chair is Susan Beals.  Our other committee members are, in no particular order, Darcy Gardiner, Sunday Miles, and Patricia Wolfe.

The committee welcomes ideas, comments or suggestions.  Please feel free to contact any of the committee members at any time.

The big news for last year’s Nationals was the KODA lawsuit which attempted to get an injunction against implementation of the Retail Pet Store Rule – animal rights-inspired regulations that will have many consequences for the small home-based breeders who make up a lot of our membership.  We want to thank ASCA for their contribution towards this effort as well as all the various other organizations and individuals who also participated. As I am sure you are aware, the suit was not successful. KODA and the attorneys, after much discussion, decided not to appeal the decision

From what I have been able to find out, there seems to be little enforcement happening with regard to the Retail Pet Store Rule at this time. This lack of enforcement proceedings is probably due in large part to the 2014 Farm Bill which made some amendments to the Animal Welfare Act. APHIS was directed to complete a rulemaking to come up with a definition of “de mimimus” activities. To date there has been no notice of an additional rulemaking process. The update APHIS posted last week said they were still working on it. When it happens, we will be asking the ASCA membership to submit comments just as they did for the Retail Pet store Rule.

Meanwhile, back at the HSUS ranch, on September 21 HSUS, in conjunction with their friends at ASPCA and HSVMA (Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association), filed a 243 page petition with USDA/APHIS “to request necessary enhancements to existing regulatory restrictions on the inhumane treatment of dogs living in dealer housing facilities.” In other words, they want a new rulemaking to further define the conditions under which dogs are allowed to be kept by those required to be licensed. USDA/APHIS jumped through hoops before for the animal rights contingent, they will again. We would suggest that ASCA members write a letter requesting denial of the petition and we will get some information for them once we have had a chance to digest what is in the petition. And when it goes to rulemaking we will also be encouraging members to comment.

On a possibly related note, the Purdue study announced in 2014, a two-year research project to collect data and test current nationwide dog breeding standards, is moving along. The purpose of the study is to create a uniform standard for dog care and well-being in all 50 states. While this sounds good, it has the potential to be problematic on many levels and since it is supported in part by USDA/APHIS chances are pretty good that the results will be used for further rulemaking. A one-size-fits-all standard, which this looks to be the objective here, is never appropriate for dogs. In a country as large as the United States, with varying climates and dogs bred and raised for different purposes – is one national dog breeding standard really possible, or even desirable? No one in their right mind would raise Aussies for ranch work the same way someone would raise Chihuahuas intended to be apartment pets. There are often good reasons why dogs are raised differently. How the results of this study will affect the ASCA membership is impossible to estimate at this time.

Those are the big things currently going on at the national level and there is plenty there to keep us busy.  There are innumerable problematic issues at state and local levels throughout the country – proposed bans on docking and dew-claw removal, bans on other veterinary procedures, mandatory spay/neuter proposals, bans on training tools or housing techniques such as prong collars or tethering, all sorts of legislation regulating breeding or pet store sales, animal abuser registries, and much more – all designed for one purpose, to limit our ownership rights and restrict our activities with our animals.  For example, last year alone by the time I stopped counting in April of 2015, between the Assembly and Senate in New York there were 105 animal-related bills.  I am sure the volume is similar in other states.  The Legislative Committee cannot possibly keep up with all of these so we would ask, if there is something that needs our input in your local area, please bring it to our attention.  And please do so with enough notice that we have a chance to come up with a response for you. And of course – we always need more members!! Please think of joining our committee for the exciting work ahead. If you are interested, contact the ASCA Business Office with your resume. Thank you.