Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lawsuit filed against APHIS Retail Pet Store Rule

Press Release

On December 16, 2013 a Lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Washington DC that asks the Court to declare that the Retail Pet Store Rule is “arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent"  with law, and to remand the Rule back to the USDA.  The Lawsuit also seeks an injunction that would bar the USDA from enforcing the Retail Pet Store Rule.  The "Complaint" in the Lawsuit was filed on behalf of 42 Plaintiffs that consisted of Dog and Cat Clubs, Associations and a Registry.  Those 42 Plaintiffs included nearly 19,000 breeders who potentially would be adversely affected by the Rule.  Those 42 Plaintiffs represent less than 1% of the more than 5,500 Dog and Cat Clubs in the U.S., which supports the assertion that the Rule potentially affects far, far, far more than the 4,640 breeders that APHIS stated was the maximum number of breeders who potentially would be affected by the Rule.

One of the cornerstone assertions in the Complaint is the fact that APHIS failed to document how it arrived at its figure of 4,640 breeders, which figure is exponentially below the number of hobby breeders who potentially could be affect by the Rule.

The Complaint also highlights deficiencies in the flawed cost analysis that woefully underestimated the cost of compliance.    Of note, was APHIS's repeated use of the words "unknown," "not known" and "uncertainty" in the mandatory Regulatory Impact Assessment and Cost Analysis that were prepared by APHIS.  In short, APHIS's Regulatory Impact Assessment and the Cost Analysis are irrevocably flawed.  Another flaw that was cited in the Complaint included the fact that USDA redefined the definition of a "retail pet store" without any statutory authority to do so.

Additional assertions included the failure of APHIS to address a number of issues that were raised in the 1,000s of Public Comments that were submitted to APHIS.  Those issues included, but were not limited to, cost of compliance; privacy; increased risk of spread of deadly diseases; increased risk of harassment by Animal Rights extremists; potential degradation of gene pools and loss of rare breeds; and lingering confusion that necessitated "Webinars" after the effective date of the Rule; and National Security.

Prior to the filing of the Lawsuit, a formal request was made to Secretary Vilsack to place a 60 day moratorium on the enforcement of the Rule, which was based in part on the following sentence:  "Moreover, APHIS's hosting of two webinars after the effective date indicates that it concedes the requirements and scope of the Rule are not easy to understand."   While it is unlikely that the Secretary will grant the request, the request was made to demonstrate an urgent need for injunctive relief.

In addition to the Lawsuit being filed, a Request for an Expedited Hearing will be submitted to the Court.

We wish to take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation for the financial support of this endeavor by so many Clubs and Individuals.  Thank You!

Associated Dog Clubs of New York State (ADCNYS)
Additional information and updates at http://www.keepourdomesticanimals.com/

Friday, November 15, 2013

ADCNYS takes lead to challenge APHIS pet rule

SAOVA friends,
We have an important message from our friends at the Associated Dog Clubs of New York State (ADCNYS) regarding their current effort to file an injunction against APHIS in order to block implementation of the Retail Pet Store Rule. Thanks for reading. Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Dear Friends,
I am asking you to join in supporting a legal challenge to the unreasonable USDA/APHIS rule that takes effect November 18, 2013. Associated Dog Clubs of New York State is an AKC Federation of Dog Clubs with 56 member clubs in New York State. ADCNYS is a legislative advocacy group, but is now embarking on litigation on behalf of pet breeders whose activities depend on the ability to maintain sound breeding programs and practices.

We are happy to let you know that we have surpassed our initial target of $10,000 to pay a retainer for filing the motion for injunction, and are continuing to build the war chest we will need to support further litigation after the motion has been heard. If you or your group have contributed - Thank You! If you have not donated yet, here is some information that may help in your decision. And please note that we refer just to "dogs" for brevity; our concerns include all pet species regulated by USDA.

• Filing for the injunction is the first step, not the whole process. An injunction is a court order that requires a party to do (or refrain from doing) specific acts. In this case we seek to block implementation of the rule on November 18. The basis for seeking an injunction is that USDA did not follow all the procedures and meet the standards for rulemaking, and the rule will adversely impact thousands of pet breeders who are doing nothing wrong in caring for and selling pets. The case will be heard by a judge, not a jury.

• An injunction may be granted if the plaintiffs can make a case that they will be irreparably harmed by implementation of the new regulation. Irreparable harm is generally that which cannot be remedied by money damages - you can surely think of many examples of irreparable harm from a regulation that prevents you from buying puppies you want and selling to others who want what you breed. The rule will restrict shipping, impact common breeding arrangements among fanciers, and require significant changes in caring for our dogs - IF we can provide the physical environment the regulations require. If not, our breeding programs will be profoundly altered by limitations needed to remain unlicensed.

• When the motion for a temporary injunction is filed, USDA would have the burden of proving that irreparable harm would not occur if the rule is implemented. Based on their responses to various questions in the conference calls and last week's webinar, it seems very unlikely they would be able to do that. In this stage of the litigation, our full case relating the flaws in USDA's adoption of the rule will be presented to the court. USDA would also have to convince the court that its procedures met all the requirements set forth by law, and we believe we can show that they did not. The litigation stage of the case will be lengthy and exacting, and will take resources that can't be estimated at this point - but we know it will be long and costly, and donations will be needed far beyond the "seed money" that lets us file for the injunction.

• Even if a temporary injunction is not granted, we can still proceed with the litigation to prove that USDA did not follow the process and meet the standards required to adopt this rule. If the court does not agree there would be irreparable harm with enforcement of the rule, it may agree that the procedure was flawed and the rule must be rescinded, and that is our ultimate goal. It is likely that USDA would begin again to adopt the same rule or a similar rule, but it would have to follow procedures and we would have more opportunity to educate the officials involved so they can develop a rule that does not affect thousands of hobby breeders.

As you can see, this will be an exacting process that requires extensive preparation. To be sure we are presenting a thorough and persuasive case to the court, we have decided to delay our filing for the injunction by several days, perhaps up to two weeks. This does not jeopardize our right to challenge the rule, and it allows us additional time to expand the list of plaintiff organizations. It's important to have a widespread and diverse group of plaintiffs to show the seriousness of the rule's impact.

That's the nutshell version of the legal process we are launching. Here are some facts responding to other questions we have been asked:

What's your track record with cases like this? ADCNYS has had successes fighting bad state and local legislation in New York. It has not pursued court actions like this one, because there has not been a case with these implications. There have been only a handful of lawsuits in the entire nation to block implementation of a bad law once the governing body has enacted it. It is far better to block it from implementation than to strike it from the books later. For many breeders, this rule would require changes that can never truly be undone.

What if we don't get the injunction? If the community of pet breeders is willing to have its full case made to the court, as shown by the groundswell of donations and plaintiff support, failing to get a temporary injunction is a setback but not the end of the case. If we file for the injunction, we have a chance of getting it. If we don't file, we have a 100% chance of letting USDA go forward with the rule. We would rather fight now while we have a chance to stop it, than do nothing before it goes into effect. There are still ways to challenge it later if the injunction isn't granted, but the longer APHIS has to implement it, the more damage will be done. Delaying a challenge will cost many breeders a great deal of money, and opportunities they can never recover in their breeding programs. 

Who are the plaintiffs and what do they do during this process? Clubs that have signed on as plaintiffs are simply saying, formally, that they believe this rule will cause serious and lasting harm to their members' ability to engage in lawful activities such as dog and cat breeding, and shows. Plaintiffs may provide examples of these effects for our litigation team to present, but it is highly unlikely that any plaintiff members would have to appear in court.

Why do we need a lot of plaintiffs? Having multiple plaintiffs across the country shows this rule affects many people who participate in activities involving purebred animals. It is not a small, elite group of breeders - it is, in fact, all BUT a relative handful of fanciers who breed dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and other small pet species (except birds and reptiles). We post donors' locations (not names of individuals) for the same reason - implementation of this rule will be a nationwide calamity. If we aren't able to permanently block the rule in court, we will ask Congress to intervene through its oversight and funding functions, and we will be able to show we have serious supporters in every state.

Can plaintiffs be targeted for retaliation? Can they be sued for participating? USDA would have no reason to select members of a plaintiff club for scrutiny. Citizens have a right to challenge government actions, and as long as the challenge is in the form of filing a lawsuit, the government does not retaliate. 

ADCNYS and the plaintiff clubs are ready to go the distance to change this excessive and punitive regulation of pet breeders who are "doing it right." Every dollar you can help raise for the lawsuit is a step toward that goal. Donation details and plaintiff forms are on our web site. Regardless of what happens with the injunction itself, please consider further donations so that we may continue the suit.

Wanda Allen President, ADCNYS

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Farm Bill Fight Keys on Protecting Interstate Commerce

National Hog Farmer, Nov. 6, 2013. In its latest attempt to coerce Congress, the lobbying arm of The Humane Society has taken out $100,000 in online ads to force the removal of a key animal rights amendment from the 2013 farm bill, according to The Hill (http://thehill.com.).

The ads, which began running Friday, target members of the newly formed House-Senate farm bill conference committee, which began work last Wednesday. At issue is an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that attempts to stop states such as California from banning goods made in other states based on the means of production.

The California law is aimed at eggs laid by hens kept in battery cages, and helped spur an agreement between the Humane Society and the United Egg Producers to phase out battery cages. A smaller group of egg producers and lobbyists for other growers, including pig farmers, are behind the King amendment.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is targeting Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Tom Harkin (D-IA, and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN.) and Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Tim Walz (D-MN), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Martha Roby (R-AL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Glenn Thompson (R-PA).

In 2012, the Humane Society Legislative Fund spent heavily in a failed effort to defeat King, whom the group views as its chief foe in Congress.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Legislation Briefs November 3, 2013

SAOVA Friends,

The final pet seller rule goes into effect on November 18, 2013. This rule would extend APHIS authority to include large segments of the retail pet trade as regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including pet species as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters, among others. The overarching intent of the revision is to regulate sight unseen retail pet sales, which, without proof, APHIS claims have dramatically increased as a result of growing Internet usage.   APHIS also claims the rule closes a so-called “Internet loophole” and restores the original intent of Congress for administration of the AWA.

We have always believed the issue of how Congress intended the AWA to be enforced was decided by the Circuit Court in Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) v. Ann M. Veneman (Secretary, USDA). We agree with the Court’s decision and do not think that several decades ago, Congress ever meant USDA to enforce the AWA inside people’s homes.  However, now that the current APHIS administration has elected to make a determination granting themselves additional authority of such magnitude, we believe Congress is obligated to review this issue, and should do so as quickly as possible.  

Download full article at http://saova.org/APHIS_authority.html

Thanks for reading.  Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

USDA Animal Care will host a series of Retail Pet Store Rule webinars in November and December. Webinars will be held Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST for a four-week period. http://tinyurl.com/kgk4c3p  The schedule of topics for the webinars is as follows:
November 7 – Am I regulated under USDA’s Retail Pet Store Rule
November 14 – How will USDA implement the Retail Pet Store Rule  
November 21 – What is USDA’s inspection process in a home
December 5 – How will USDA enforce the Retail Pet Store Rule

Docket ID: FDA-2006-P-0338. September 22, 2013 FDA posted Denial of petition to revise requirements http://tinyurl.com/k7rxvey
Compassion Over Killing and Animal Legal Defense Fund and Penn Law Animal Law Project Petition, University of PA Law School, filed a citizens petition September 21, 2010 requesting new labeling of shell eggs sold in the U.S.  Petitioners claim that current labeling fails to reveal to consumers certain material facts that substantially influence their purchasing decisions.  Petitioners further requested that FDA require shell eggs to bear one of three labels: Free Range Eggs, Cage Free Eggs, Eggs From Caged Hens and provided descriptions of production conditions that would be associated with each term.

The agency states in its decision summary, “After careful review of your citizen petition and for the reasons described below, FDA is denying your citizen petition in accordance with 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 10.30(e)(3) because you do not provide a sufficient basis for the agency to revise the current labeling requirements for shell eggs. Specifically, you have not provided evidence sufficient to show that eggs from caged hens are “nutritionally inferior” to eggs from free-range and cage-free hens. Therefore, nutritional properties cannot provide a basis to consider the method of production for eggs to be a material fact.  Moreover, nutritional information regarding particular eggs is conveyed to consumers directly by placing the particular nutrient information on the label, not by identifying the method of production, which does not provide consumers with information as to nutritive content. Second, you have not provided sufficient evidence to show that eggs from caged hens have a greater risk of Salmonella contamination than eggs from the other two production methods you define; consequently, the risk of Salmonella cannot provide a basis to consider the method of production for eggs to be a material fact.  Finally, even assuming the method of egg production may be of interest to some consumers, consumer interest alone is not a material fact. Therefore, FDA is not compelled under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“the Act”) or it’s implementing regulations to require such labeling under the law. Finally, even if the agency could require such labeling, it would choose to use its limited resources on rulemakings of higher priority, such as those that are of greatest public health significance or are statutorily-mandated.

Docket No. APHIS-2012-0107. In August 2013, HSUS, World Wildlife Fund, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Big Cat Rescue, and others petitioned APHIS to amend sections of the AWA. Petitioners requested regulation changes in part 2.131 to explicitly prohibit licensed exhibitors from allowing persons, with some exceptions, from coming into direct physical contact with any big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age. The petition states that the current handling regulations in 9 CFR part 2 allow licensees the opportunity to engage in animal exhibition practices via interactive public contact sessions and photographic opportunities, and that these activities not only place these animals at risk of harm but threaten public safety.  Petitioners also suggested revisions to 9 CFR part 3 to ensure that the sections containing specific standards for the handling of nonhuman primates are consistent with the regulatory changes they propose in § 2.131.  Nonhuman primates include lemurs which are a popular exhibit at many petting zoos.

APHIS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) requesting comments on conditions where public contact could be allowed; whether exhibitors and dealers should be required to keep additional records and identify their animals with microchips or retinal scans, etc.  The comment period has been extended to November 18, 2013.  Comment at Federal Register: http://tinyurl.com/ln76cs3
The majority of comments at this time are form letters from the HSUS website supporting a rule.

Judge’s Ruling Favors USDA Providing Horse Slaughter Inspections by Dan Flynn, November 1, 2013
USDA is not required to conduct an Environmental impact Statement or Environmental Assessment in order to grant equine inspection services to businesses planning to pack horsemeat for export, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo ruled Friday. The judge denied the request by animal groups for a permanent injunction and dismissed the case challenging USDA’s authority.  The decision is a massive loss for the Humane Society of the U.S., which largely funded the lawsuit and enlisted 15 other groups and individuals to join it as plaintiffs.

And it was a defining victory for the Department of Justice attorneys who re-affirmed USDA powers contained in the Federal Meat Inspection Act that go back more than 100 years.   It means horse slaughter for human consumption could resume shortly under USDA inspection for the first time since 2006. “Valley Meat Company, LLC and Rains Natural Meats are both very pleased with the decision of Judge Armijo, said Albuquerque  attorney A. Blair Dunn.  “This is a very well-reasoned and thorough opinion.  Valley and Rains are very grateful for the hard work and thought that Judge Armijo put into this decision.  Both companies will now focus on final preparations to open and begin work.”  Full story at link: http://tinyurl.com/mredlmd

For Immediate Release. November 1, 2013 (Washington, DC). In an effort to exempt vital sportsmen trust funds from budget sequestration, the bipartisan Senate leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) sent a letter to Sylvia Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting that the $50 million sequestered from the Wildlife Restoration, Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Funds in 2013 be returned to the states.

In bipartisan fashion, CSC Senate Co-Chairs, Kay Hagan and John Thune, and Senate Vice-Chairs, Mark Pryor and James Risch, signed on to the letter, requesting the OMB release the sequestered sportsmen trust funds that are derived from excise taxes levied on guns and ammunition; fishing tackle and equipment; motorboat fuel; and bows and arrows. The trust funds are the foundation of the unique American System of Conservation Funding, a "user pays-public benefits" program. This user-pays funding strategy has produced numerous public benefits including: abundant fish and wildlife populations, access to public lands and clean waters, improved fish and wildlife habitat, improved soil and water conservation, shooting ranges, and boating access facilities.

Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) praised the Senate CSC leadership for their continued bipartisan support. "We salute the bipartisan leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus for once again standing up in support of hunters and anglers. These dedicated trust funds form the financial backbone of the most successful conservation story in history, and to release them back to the state wildlife agencies where they belong is simply the right thing to do."

"North Carolina and states across the country depend on this funding to restore and manage fisheries and wildlife habitats, open and maintain recreational access, and provide hunting and boating safety education. Moreover, applying sequestration to the trust funds represents a breach in trust between sportsmen and women and industries that pay an excise tax to specifically fund projects that enhance outdoor recreation activities and opportunities," Senator Hagan stated.

By withholding $50 million from Wildlife Restoration, Sport Fish Restoration, and Boating Safety programs, the Budget Control Act of 2011 will adversely affect states' ability to manage their fish and wildlife resources; open and maintain recreational access; and deliver hunter and boating safety education.

In the letter, CSC leadership noted that in implementing sequestration, OMB is required to follow rules outlined in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. The act provides that budgetary resources sequestered in trust fund accounts in a fiscal year "shall be available in subsequent years to the extent otherwise provided in law."

In March, CSF, along with 44 organizations representing millions of hunters, anglers and other conservationists, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting assistance in exempting the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Funds from the Budget Sequestration Act of 2011.  http://tinyurl.com/lvz9mal
CONTACT: Cole Henry  cole@sportsmenslink.org

Letter From The Editor: A Trial Court Surprise

Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo surprised me.

I was expecting New Mexico’s top federal judge to issue a permanent injunction against USDA from providing equine inspection services. Then I thought Department of Justice attorneys assigned to represent USDA would appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where Armijo’s ruling would be reversed.

My thinking was that New Mexico’s political  leadership, from both parties, are enough anti- horse slaughter that the body politic  would influence Armijo. It was part of a stereotype I’ve created in my own mind about New Mexican political groupthink.

But surprise me she did, especially by nailing the legal reasoning I thought we would see from a 10th Circuit panel of judges. After reading Armijo’s 33-page decision, I was struck by how clear everything looks now. With some tweaking along the way, Congress has for more than a century tasked USDA with inspecting meat and meat products, be it from beef, lamb, pork, horse or whatever else has hooves.

The legal challenge was based on apparently misguided readings of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Both are about government decision-making where discretion exists, not where government action is mandated.

USDA has a job to do, albeit one that some find unpopular. More at Food Safety News

Thursday, October 31, 2013

APHIS RETAIL PET SELLERS RULE: Does APHIS have authority to enact this rule?

Re:  Docket ID:  APHIS-2011-0003, Animal Welfare; Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions

APHIS issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking May 16, 2012. The final rule was published in the federal register September 18, 2013 and goes into effect November 18, 2013. This Rule would extend APHIS authority to include large segments of the retail pet trade as regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including pet species as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters, among others. The overarching intent of the revision is to regulate sight unseen retail pet sales, which, without proof, APHIS claims have dramatically increased as a result of growing Internet usage.

In May, 2010, APHIS received severe criticism from the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding lax enforcement of currently licensed dog breeders in the report, “Inspections of Problematic Dealers”. In June 2010 APHIS announced a plan to improve consistency in Animal Care inspectors’ approach for inspections, provide more complete guidance to its employees, and improve regulation of dog dealers particularly those who are repeat offenders.  As part of the Longer Term Actions included in the original Enhanced Animal Welfare Act Enforcement Plan in May 2010 APHIS set the following goal: “Develop regulations regarding Internet sales. This will transpire once legislation is passed to close a loophole in the law and enable APHIS to regulate this area of the industry.”  

It is very clear APHIS believed this measure was specifically dependent upon legislation; however, unwilling to wait for Congressional action and pressured by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), APHIS added the following comment to their enforcement plan in a report which was undated but, from text dates, obviously compiled after May 31, 2011: “USDA has determined that it has legislative authority to regulate Internet sales. A proposed rule will be submitted for departmental clearance in spring 2011 and published in the Federal Register for public comment in fall 2011.

The retail pet store revision would not improve enforcement of substandard current license holders, the major focus of the original OIG report, but would instead regulate many retailers, hobbyists, rescues, and small business entities far above APHIS claims of closing a so-called “Internet loophole” and restoring the original intent of Congress for administration of the AWA.

It is our impression that the current APHIS administration finds it immaterial that the existing definition of retail pet store and method of enforcement has been upheld in a court of law. Decided January 14, 2003, Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) v. Ann M. Veneman (Secretary, USDA) provides compelling arguments for retaining the construct between wholesale and retail sellers. The issue at hand was to determine if the traditional exemption under pet retail store definition, which exempted breeders who sell dogs as pets from their residences, was valid.  In his opinion, Circuit Judge Randolph noted “Hundreds of thousands of dog breeders throughout the United States raise and sell puppies from their homes. Still it is true that in the years since passage of the Act and the Secretary's adoption of the regulation, Congress has not altered the regulatory definition of ‘retail pet store’ although it has amended the act three times.”  At that time USDA declined to amend the definition in light of the potential invasions of privacy that would result if federal inspectors began enforcing regulations in private homes.  USDA also maintained if they were to regulate these dealers in addition to state and local officials, it would clearly not be the most efficient use of their resources.

Efficient use of resources is just as relevant today, if not more so, considering the agency’s current budget challenges and the general state of the nation’s economy. The proposed rule threatens to exponentially increase the number of entities requiring licensure. Without a corresponding increase in inspection staff, the ability of APHIS to effectively enforce the AWA will be compromised.   Besides not being economically feasible, there are many state and local laws and ordinances already in place to monitor the welfare and housing for animals owned by residential retail breeder/sellers.

Revisiting Judge Randolph’s opinion regarding Congressional intent, he stated, “While the regulation's definition of ‘retail pet store’ does not exactly leap from the page, there is enough play in the language of the Act to preclude us from saying that Congress has spoken to the issue with clarity. From what we can make out, Congress has paid little attention to the question posed in this case. Still, it is true that in the years since passage of the Act and the Secretary's adoption of the regulation, Congress has not altered the regulatory definition of ‘retail pet store’ although it has amended the act three times. One line of Supreme Court cases holds that ‘when Congress revisits a statute giving rise to a longstanding administrative interpretation without pertinent change, the “congressional failure to revise or repeal the agency's interpretation is persuasive evidence that the interpretation is the one intended by Congress.”’ Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Schor, 478 U.S. 833, 846 (1986) (quoting NLRB v. Bell Aerospace Co., 416 U.S. 267, 275 (1974)). The quotation fits this case perfectly.” http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/A30825ECFA88D2C985256F82005F4853/$file/01-5351a.txt

We agree with the Court’s decision and do not think that several decades ago, Congress ever intended USDA to enforce the AWA inside people’s homes.  However, now that the current APHIS administration has elected to make a determination granting themselves additional authority of such magnitude, we believe Congress is now obligated to review this issue, and should do so as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legislation Briefs and APHIS Rule Update October 14, 2013

SAOVA Friends,

Since APHIS announced the Final Retail Pet Store Rule a number of commentaries have surfaced as groups and individuals attempt to interpret this rule and provide guidance. The overarching intent of the revision is to regulate sight unseen sales which APHIS claims have dramatically increased as a result of growing internet usage. APHIS has determined that their mission to enforce regulation of listed animal species under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) now includes those sold in retail as well as commercial markets.

The revised language as set in the APHIS rule now has the force and effect of law. Anything else stated by APHIS staff in response to questions should only be considered as an explanation of pending policy. These policies are not only open to interpretation by individual inspectors, but can be modified by the agency at any time.

Part 3 of the AWA details the Standards of Care for housing, facilities, exercise, cleaning, sanitization, and housekeeping required under USDA/APHIS regulation. Standards will not be revised for home-based retail sellers as APHIS cannot privilege newly licensed breeders over currently licensed breeders. The Final Rule notes: “Several of these commenters suggested that we amend part 3 in the final rule to establish alternate, performance-based standards for dog and cat fanciers and other small-scale residential breeders. We are making no changes in response to these comments. The comments were predicated on an assumption that it will be cost-prohibitive for most residential breeders who are regulated as a result of this rule to meet the standards in part 3; we do not consider that to be the case. (Page 63 of 91)

Below is a short list of noteworthy statements from the Final Rule Discussion of Comments regarding who APHIS intends to license. Access this document at http://www.saova.org/APHIS_rulemaking.html

1. We consider private rescues and shelters that perform any of the activities listed in the definition of dealer, including transporting or offering animals for compensation, to be dealers. We consider acts of compensation to include any remuneration for the animal, regardless of whether it is for profit or not for profit. Remuneration thus includes, but is not limited to, sales, adoption fees, and donations. (Page 13 of 91)

2. If an individual is selling animals at retail for breeding purposes, that individual is not a dealer. We do, however, share the concern that claiming breeding purposes as the purpose for an animal’s retail sale could be subject to abuse. Therefore, if we were to receive word that individuals making such claims are, in fact, marketing their animals as pets, we would consider this to be grounds for initiating an investigation to resolve the matter. (Page 15 of 91)

3. Those who own more than four breeding females and wish to continue selling the offspring as pets, sight unseen, can do so by obtaining a license and allowing APHIS inspectors to inspect their facility. (Page 24 of 91)

4. As is the case with commercial pet retailers, representatives of rescue groups also must be physically present at a place of business so that potential buyers/adoptees can personally observe their animals before purchasing and/or taking custody of them. (Page 35 of 91)

5. In instances where there is some question about the method of sale, APHIS will conduct an investigation and determine whether a sight unseen sale has occurred. (Page 36 of 91)

6. APHIS investigates all credible reports we receive of unlicensed activities involving sales of covered pets. (Page 39 of 91) Note: APHIS stated in a conference call hosted by AKC that complaints of noncompliance will be accepted by email and through their web site and can be anonymous.

7. Farm animals intended for use as food, fiber, or other purposes specified under the definition of farm animal in § 1.1 are exempt from regulation, regardless of whether those animals are sold face-to-face or sight unseen. Farm animals sold specifically as pets in face-to-face transactions are also exempt from licensing. (Page 41 of 91)

8. If sellers of such [working] dogs also sell dogs at retail for pets, any female dogs bred to produce puppies for sale would be counted as breeding females. (Page 57 of 91)

The commentary contains considerable discussion of Breeding Females and Offspring as the final rule exempts anyone who maintains a total of four or fewer breeding female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals, and who sells only the offspring of these dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals, which were born and raised on his or her premises. It is important to note that the word “maintains” includes any breeding female even temporarily residing at that premise, and that the exemption refers to the aggregate number of females on premise regardless of species. It is ultimately an APHIS inspector’s responsibility to decide whether an animal is a breeding female and, generally, APHIS assumes that any female capable of breeding may be bred.

When the rule was proposed in 2012 there was uncertainty regarding its effect on sales of farm animals because the definition of retail pet store names domestic farm animals in the list of covered animals. We were told by APHIS personnel this was not an issue as farm animals were excluded from AWA regulation by definition. However, the Final Rule Discussion of Comments raises this concern once again. APHIS acknowledges that farm animals intended for use as food, fiber, or other purposes specified under the definition of farm animal in § 1.1 are exempt from regulation, then adds “Farm animals intended to be used as pets, for biomedical research, or other nonagricultural research are regulated under the AWA. APHIS further stipulates (Page 41) “Farm animals sold specifically as pets in face-to-face transactions are also exempt from licensing.” Does this provision imply that shipping a “farm animal” as a pet requires a license?

APHIS repeatedly states they will determine who requires a license on a case by case basis. We would strongly advise having an attorney assist you in any dealings with APHIS regarding these decisions.

Thanks for reading. Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Posted by Sara Chisnell, UKC Legal Counsel under Your Dog, Your Rights

By now, most of you have heard that some changes have been made to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that affect dog breeders, but there has been a lot of confusion on exactly how these changes work. I will attempt to clarify and simplify, to the best of my knowledge, but many of the definitions and applications remain unclear.

First of all, what is the AWA? In a nutshell, the AWA was originally created in order to oversee the humane treatment of animals used in research, and was later expanded to include transporting and dealing animals, as well. The law delineates who must be licensed and subsequently adhere to regulations and standards. Dog breeders who sell pets only at retail, and “retail pet stores”, are exempted from the AWA. The changes to the AWA revise and narrow the definition of “retail pet stores”.

The AWA regulates and requires dealers to be licensed and inspected. A “dealer” is defined as “any person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit, delivers for transportation, or transports, except as a carrier, buys, sells, or negotiates the purchase or sale of: Any dog or other animal whether alive or dead (including unborn animals, organs, limbs, blood, serum or other parts) for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, exhibition, or for use as a pet, or any dog at the wholesale level for hunting, security or breeding purposes.” “Retail pet stores” or anyone who sells dogs at retail for “hunting, breeding or security purposes” are exempt from licensing.

Who will be affected by this definition change? It might not be as sweeping and over-inclusive as it first appeared. Basically, the dog breeders it will affect will be those who sell dogs sight unseen, have more than four (4) “breeding females”, and sell dogs as pets. Sounds simple, right? Not so much. Read commentary at link: http://tinyurl.com/mlwqwxj

Foster Farms in California was told to clean-up or shut down after three of their California plants were linked to a salmonella outbreak. This week Foster Farms issued a press release stating plants would stay open. “USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today reviewed Foster Farms’ safety plan for its three California facilities in Livingston and Fresno. This follows Foster Farms’ implementation of several new food safety controls over the last two months and the company’s commitment to install added processes during an enhanced inspection period over the next 90 days.”

The CDC reported in July of 2013 that testing of samples traced back to two Foster Farms slaughter establishments. The CDC also reported that some of the salmonella strains detected were showing resistance to antibiotics. The L.A. Times reported a statement by John Glisson, director of research for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn., defending the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Glisson stressed that salmonella was a formidable challenge to the poultry industry. The bacteria grows in animals' intestinal tracts and is spread through feces. It can contaminate a chicken farm through water, feed, birds and rodents. When infected chicken waste dries, salmonella can spread through dust.

Foster Farms was the first major broiler chicken producer in the nation to carry the American Humane Association seal, ensuring consumers that its farms meet the nonprofit's animal welfare guidelines for raising poultry. Sources: CDC , Foster Farms, LA Times, SF Gate

Proposed changes to the Kansas Pet Animal Act (KPAA) are being considered by a House-Senate committee which will forward its recommendations to the full Legislature when the 2014 session starts in January. HSUS state director, Midge Grinstead, called for more inspections of breeders to make sure that animal housing standards are being met. Advocates claim current regulations are inadequate to ensure animals in crowded conditions have adequate water, are subject to proper temperatures, and given enough room to move around. Several committee members said they did not see the need to regulate "hobby" breeders or animal training businesses. HSUS included 11 Kansas breeders in their Horrible Hundred list — the third highest of the 20 states in the study.

New legislation filed by Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester titled An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS Act) would raise animal cruelty fines and penalties. Second or subsequent offenses would have increased penalties from 5 to 10 years in state prison and fines up to $20,000. The legislation would create an anonymous animal abuse tip hotline and impose a fine of up to $1,000 on any veterinarian who fails to report a suspected act of cruelty to an animal. A statewide registry of individuals convicted of animal abuse crimes would be established, and all animal shelters, pet stores or animal breeders would be required to check the registry prior to offering, selling, delivering, or giving an animal to any individual.

Introduced October 10, 2013 by Senators Dinniman, Alloway, Erickson, Vogel and Greenleaf, SB1126 amends the Dog Law by moving responsibility from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health. The Department of Health would carry out all the administrative and oversight tasks currently required by the Dog Law, including the regulation of dog kennels; the collection of complaints and tips alleging violations of the Dog Law; the seizure of dogs from illegal, unlicensed kennels; and the collection of dog-license, kennel and out-of-state-dealers fees. Senators Dinniman (D, Chester) and Alloway (R, Franklin) state with Dog Law enforcement in the Department of Agriculture, dogs are treated as any other agricultural product and moving them under the responsibility of the Department of Health correctly changes the focus to health, welfare and safety. Senators Dinniman and Alloway plan to unveil a package of bills October 22 with a public dog rally at the Capitol.

Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds names Sherwin Figueroa and Theresa Schiefer, who both joined the District Attorney’s Office earlier this year, as part of a new Animal Abuse Unit. His office prosecuted five felony aggravated cruelty to animal cases in 2011 and 2012 and, so far in 2013, there have been two cases indicted. Misdemeanor animal cases are prosecuted by the Solicitor General’s Office. Figueroa is an advocate of animal protection and serves as the vice president of the State Bar of Georgia’s Animal Law Section. Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Congressman

We need everyone to write to Congress. As of this morning, the Final Pet Seller Rule is listed as the 5th most read on the Federal Register website among 2,133 notices and rules posted this month. Make sure your Congressman is aware of this rule. A short, easy letter is below for you to use. More examples will be posted in the coming week. Thank you.

Dear Congressman

I am writing today in opposition to the final rule issued by USDA/APHIS to revise the definition of retail pet store.

The rule changes the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and USDA responsibility forever by granting authority for federal inspectors to invade the privacy of American homes in order to establish standards for pet care, sanitation, handling, and housing.

While the rule is promoted as closing an “Internet loophole” for unscrupulous puppy sellers, the rule’s dramatic expansion of the AWA would actually encompass many private citizens as well as multiple species of pets. The new rule centers on shipping pets sight unseen requiring certain sellers who do so to be federally licensed. This places unnecessary restrictions on the buyer by limiting the geographic area from which he can purchase a pet without excessive travel. Because the Internet has replaced many traditional advertising methods does not mean it should be used as an excuse to expand the agency's regulatory scope beyond its current enforcement capability.

Considering the agency’s current budget challenges and the general state of the nation’s economy, expansion of this magnitude is not only impractical but irresponsible and is not an efficient use of limited departmental resources.

Please intervene and help us stop this rule.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

APHIS Final Rule Revising Pet Seller Exemptions and You

SAOVA Friends,

As  you know by now, APHIS published the Final Rule September 10, 2013 which revises the definition of "retail pet store" under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensing and regulations. The new definition of retail pet store means a place of business or residence where the seller, buyer, and animal are physically present in the same location. Not only dogs, but cats, rabbits, mice, small exotic animals, and other small pets will no longer be sold at retail without either public or APHIS oversight.  If you cannot qualify for the retail pet store exemption in the AWA by selling only face-to-face, then you must either obtain a federal license or be limited to 4 or fewer females bred and raised on your premises. This limit of 4 is an aggregate number of females regardless of species (i.e., 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit).

The transaction does not have to take place at the seller’s home.  A meeting place can be set up to transfer the animal. However, everyone needs to be aware that many municipalities have ordinances restricting sales in public places and should plan accordingly. It appears APHIS will allow a third party to be designated as the agent to stand in for the breeder or buyer in the face-to-face transaction, but this needs additional clarification.

Anyone selling dogs for hunting, breeding, security purposes, or as working dogs is excluded from the definition of Dealer and from the definition of Retail Pet Store.

APHIS held a teleconference to announce the final rule.  If you could not attend, we urge you to read the transcribed call which is posted at the SAOVA website http://tinyurl.com/nyb4s5g

In general, APHIS says this rule is driven by purpose of breeding and method of delivery for the sale; and that their goal is only to end sight-unseen sales.  However, since breeding programs do not fall into nice neat categories, and scenarios change from breeder to breeder and species to species, covering the retail sector with such a regulation creates many areas of uncertainty for the average breeder.

The list of questions is long:

Can hunting dog kennel owners sell pets
Can breeders ship sight-unseen where relationships have been well established
Can litters be whelped inside the house
Are rescues still exempt if they ship sight-unseen
Can animals, other than rabbits, be shipped for preservation of the species
Do the APHIS regulations take precedence over state license regulations
How can we believe the answers from APHIS staff who do not understand the questions
Does APHIS plan to offer any protection for newly licensed breeders so that kennel photos are not added to the ASPCA “puppy mill” data base and other sensationalized uses
If you are reported to APHIS as needing a license, are investigators required to have a warrant to enter your premises
Is everyone on the same premise required to be licensed if one person must be licensed

The rule is overly complicated, inconsistent, and certainly not easy to understand. The internet and chat groups are full of conversation about this rule with a number of interpretations and a wide variety of opinions being circulated.  APHIS also posted another Question and Answer Fact Sheet with their explanations to some of the major concerns submitted during the rule making process.  Again as last year, the Q&A contains many half, incomplete, or misleading answers.  The reality is that the final interpretation of the rule and its definitions will be at the discretion of APHIS inspectors and staff.  

Rather than attempt to analyze the rule and/or interpret how it will impact hundreds of thousands of breeders in dozens of varying situations we’ll review what we do know regarding the new rule and current AWA standards.

The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register September 18, 2013 and is effective 60 days from publication. APHIS plans a phased implementation of the rule. Kevin Shea, APHIS Director, stated in the teleconference, “We will be trying to identify the facilities that aren't currently licensed that should be licensed under the rule. We'll be doing this, using publicly available data - breed registries, advertisements that folks are doing on the internet, etc., to identify the facilities that we need to approach about getting licensed.”  APHIS is still finalizing their “outreach” plan and we will share that information when it becomes available.

The AWA Standards of Care for housing, facilities, exercise, cleaning, sanitization, employees, housekeeping, and pest control will not be revised.

Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average home-based retail seller. The average house cannot be converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal standards for licensed facilities dictate sanitation measures not feasible in a normal home, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals.

We are very concerned about the Q&A section regarding use of your homes. The answer is disingenuous and we trust those who have read it do not believe they can continue utilizing their homes once they are licensed.  The revised APHIS Q&A asks the question: Will regulated breeders who keep their dogs in their homes have to put them in a kennel?  APHIS answers “generally not” and proceeds with a misleading explanation that APHIS will determine if your home meets their standards; and states that a number of currently licensed wholesale breeders maintain their animals in their homes.

IF you can give up a room in your house and convert it to be the moisture proof, sterile environment described above, AND gain approval from an APHIS inspector, you may be able to crate or pen animals in that room. This room would then be for either adults or puppies/kittens but not both. Under the USDA standards puppies and kittens under 4 months of age cannot be housed in the same primary enclosure with adults, other than the dam/queen or foster dam/queen. Since the remainder of your house does not meet the above requirements, allowing animals to roam freely would cause you to be in violation of the AWA. And unless your bedroom is coated in epoxy and has a floor drain, you won’t be doing any whelping there.

A separate facility will be needed for females by two weeks prior to whelping. Even if you make one room in your house compliant with the AWA standards, females cannot be whelped in that room. That means an additional room will be required, plus one for each additional litter within the next 3.5 months.

Any room in your home used for whelping or birthing must meet USDA standards – impervious to moisture – meaning tile floor and vinyl-coated walls.

All surfaces touched by animals must be waterproof and sterilized every two weeks with your choice of live steam under pressure, 180 degree water and detergent with disinfectant, or a combination detergent/disinfectant product.

You must have a separate food preparation area from your kitchen.

In addition to a written exercise plan and veterinary plan you must now have an emergency plan that documents your awareness and understanding of your responsibility to protect your animals in emergency situations.

The USDA license may classify you as a commercial business. You will need to know the allowed uses for your property in the current zoning and land use regulations and whether home businesses are allowed. Your property tax status may be affected and your tax liabilities could change, depending on state and local laws.

Finally, your information, photos of your property, and inspection reports will be the subject of Freedom of Information Act requests by activists.  Inspectors will always write you up for something or it looks as if they are not doing their jobs, thus giving activists something to read and complain about.  Activists are not above taking the information out of context and using it to suit their purposes.

The new rule centers on shipping sight-unseen which at this time presents unanswered questions, and could target you for investigation as to whether you need a license.  Until APHIS issues meaningful dialogue on their intentions and we know how inspectors should interpret the new rule, it might be best to delay use of commercial shipping if possible.  If you have more than four females, rely on shipping to keep your program viable, and have no alternative options, then you will have to contact USDA and ask for an application kit and begin the licensing process.

When you contact APHIS with questions, record the answers.   If you make the decision to go forward and apply for a license, record the conversations and the inspections and have a witness with you during the pre-licensing process.

It is impossible to predict the full impact and potential damage on breeders once this rule is actually in place and enforcement begins.  In the meantime, please do not start reducing your kennels, catteries, and small businesses, and jeopardize the years of hard work that went into building your breeding programs.  There is more to learn on this rule and what can be done so that we can continue to pursue our hobbies, avocations, and livelihoods.  Many people are working on your behalf and we will not go down quietly.

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Thursday, August 15, 2013

MO Supreme Court Decision - MoFed wins

Missouri Federation of Animal Owners (MoFed) has received word that the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri just handed down its decision on the HSUS vs. State of Missouri concerning shelter fees for shelters and rescues. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court and ruled against HSUS in their effort to relieve licensed humane societies and shelters of paying the same fees as dog breeders in Missouri.

MoFed presented the idea in the state legislature and then Representative Brian Munzlinger attached the language to the omnibus agriculture bill several years ago. HSUS immediately filed a lawsuit which was ruled against all the way to the State Supreme Court. The 7 to 0 decision today is yet another defeat for HSUS!

MoFed held its ground and refused to let HSUS' attempts to pass legislation to circumvent the rulings of the courts. Defeating the efforts of HSUS in both the legislature and courts of Missouri is another win for animal owners and another sound defeat for HSUS!!! Read the Ruling

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Legislation Briefs and PUPS Update July 11, 2013

SAOVA Friends,

This will be a busy month for the members of Congress dealing with priority issues such as a new budget, the farm bill, student loans, and immigration laws, before returning to their districts for the August recess.

Concerns with the PUPS bill, HR847 / S395 do not need to take a backseat to any other legislation.  Many of you have already written to your Congressman expressing your opposition, but please do so again.   It is especially important to write to Congressmen who were newly elected last year to let them know PUPS is not the welfare bill that HSUS/ASPCA portray.

HR847 now has 127 cosponsors with 11 added during the month of June; S395 has 21 cosponsors with one added this week.  HSUS has already sent out two email blasts this year urging their minions to send form letters to Congress from the HSUS website.

The HSUS synopsis is overly simplistic and misleading, stating PUPS closes a “loophole” that currently allows large, commercial breeders to sell puppies online or directly to the public and escape federal licensing and inspection requirements.

PUPS creates the new definition high volume retail breeder. A breeder only has to have interest or custody of one breeding female dog to fall under the first criteria test. The second criterion includes anyone who sells or offers for sale, via internet, phone, or newspaper more than 50 dogs in a year.  Co-ownerships and location of co-owners, age/sex/ownership of the sold dogs are not taken into consideration.  Rescue is not exempt.

PUPS reverses a long-standing, court tested basis for pet business licensing and regulation in the commercial sector.

PUPS fails to consider that sight unseen sales have always existed via magazines and printed media and are not a new phenomenon created by the Internet.

PUPS requires specific, excessive, and impractical space for physical exercise. It does not simply ensure that dogs have daily exercise as HSUS and supporters claim.

PUPS allows private, home/hobby breeders to be the subject of activist harassment and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Find more talking points to download for your letters to Congress at the SAOVA website: http://www.saova.org/PUPS.Campaign.html    Please do this now!  Flyers are also available to use next month when members of Congress are back at local offices.

The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.  Follow SAOVA on Facebook!

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

National farming groups are suing the Obama administration over concerns that thousands of farmers and ranchers will have their personal information compromised. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council filed a lawsuit on Friday to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from responding to information requests from environmental groups that they worry could include personal details about farmers and their families. “We are sticking up for the tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers whose personal information would end up in the public domain,” Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said in a statement. “This lawsuit is about the government’s unjustified intrusion into citizens’ private lives.” Source: The Hill blogs http://tinyurl.com/m352e3v  
Read press release at American Farm Bureau newsroom

Eight meat industry groups from the United States and Canada have sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the country-of-origin labeling rule finalized in May.  The American Meat Institute (AMI), American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association joined in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. The groups argue that the rule violates the Constitution by compelling speech without a substantial government interest; goes beyond the intentions of the original mandate; and is arbitrary and places undue burden on the industry. Read press release at AMI

Following USDA's announcement late last week to issue an inspection permit to a New Mexico equine slaughter plant, animal rights organizations have filed suit against the agency and asked for an immediate injunction. HSUS and various organizations are suing under the National Environmental Protection Act, alleging the agency failed to conduct an environmental review before authorizing horse slaughterhouses to operate.  The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS' Animal Protection Litigation section.

Aside from the New Mexico plant, FSIS said it expects requests for inspection from two more plants in Iowa and Missouri in the future.

Earlier HSUS filed a petition with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare horsemeat unfit for human consumption. USDA denied that petition stating, “After carefully considering the issues raised in the petition and the supplemental statement, the Agency finds no merit in the assertion that all meat and meat food products from a horse without a proven lifetime history of all substances administered to it are adulterated under the FMIA.  FSIS has concluded that its existing authority under the FMIA and implementing regulations, which include requirements for the disposition of livestock suspected of having biological residues, along with the Agency’s National Residue Program (NRP), will allow the Agency to ensure that carcasses and horsemeat products that bear the mark of inspection are safe for human food.”  Full FSIS response http://tinyurl.com/k4ujk6d

Introduced by Rep. Dan Benishek (R, MI-1) HR1825 directs Federal public land management officials to exercise their authority under existing law to facilitate use of and access to Federal public lands for fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting, and for other purposes. The bill establishes that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands are “open unless closed” to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting.  HR1825 does not create hunting, fishing or recreational shooting opportunities where they are not already authorized; however it protects congressionally authorized activities from legal challenges that seek to interfere with authorized hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal land.

This important legislation was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee with a 28-15 vote and reported to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Common Sense Prevails in East Coast Gestation Stall Decisions

Good news is always appreciated, and the common sense displayed by governmental officials in both New York and New Jersey this month is positive for pork producers. On Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have banned the use of sow stalls. The legislation had been pushed by animal rights groups. Earlier this month, the New York Legislature refused to pass legislation banning gestation stalls.

Gov. Christie said, “The proper balancing of humane treatment of gestating pigs  with the interests of farmers whose livelihood depends on their ability to properly manage their livestock best rests with the state’s farming experts — the State Board (of Agriculture) and the Department (of Agriculture).” In response, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President-elect Howard Hill, DVM, a pork producer from Cambridge, IA, said, “This is a great example of a governor standing up to powerful lobbying groups on behalf of small, independent farmers. America’s family farmers thank Gov. Christie for rejecting this bad legislation.”

NPPC also joined New York pork producers to applaud the New York Legislature for failing to pass a similar gestation stall-banning measure pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights groups. While talking about the situation, New York pork producer John Lash said, “This is about HSUS using New York to advance its national agenda, regardless of the negative impact it would have on the health and safety of the animals and the small, independent farmers who care for them. Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day.”  More ...

Related articles:
NPPC Applauds Veto of Proposed Sow Stall Ban in New Jersey
America's Hog Farmers Thank Connecticut Legislature for Supporting Local Farmers

Monday, June 10, 2013

USF&WS Proposes to Delist Gray Wolf Population Nationwide

Washington, DC – Today, June 7, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) formally announced its proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list throughout the lower 48 states (with the exception of the Mexican wolf population). The FWS’s monumental decision recognizes the gray wolf’s recovery resulting from state wildlife management and the participation of the hunting community.  This achievement in conservation demonstrates the impact of successful science based efforts across the country.

“Safari Club International would like to thank the U.S. FWS and Director Dan Ashe for proposing this science-based delisting for the gray wolf,” said SCI Preside Craig Kauffman. “SCI stands prepared to go to court to ensure that when this decision is finalized it will not be hijacked by environmentalists who prefer endless legal battles to science-based management.”

Safari Club International has long supported the delisting of the gray wolf species and the return of wolf management to the individual states.  States will manage their wolf populations in a proper balance with prey species and will also make certain that there is adequate wildlife available to hunters whose participation in wildlife management and conservation is essential to the conservation of both predator and prey species. More at link.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Legislation Briefs June 5, 2013

Dear SAOVA Friends,

The IRS scandal continues to unfold in Washington with Congressional hearings underway and now investigation by the FBI into IRS actions and targeting of certain nonprofits. Discovery that the Director of the IRS division implicated in using the improper targeting, Lois Lerner, is an active member of HSUS raised questions whether she used her position to run interference for HSUS.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) wrote a letter to Lerner the year before asking that HSUS’s political spending be scrutinized. Lerner took no action. In response, Rep. Luetkemeyer wrote another letter to the Treasury Secretary and the Inspector General for Tax Administration renewing his call for an investigation of HSUS.

In his weekly column, Luetkemeyer writes, “Three years ago, a number of constituents brought to my attention their concerns that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was involved in political and lobbying activities that were in direct violation of its 501(c)3 tax-except status that prohibits such activities. To be clear, HSUS is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. In fact, only 1 percent of the money HSUS raises makes its way to animal shelters at all. Instead, it spends millions of dollars on lobbying, ballot initiatives, and other political activities.  For three years, and after providing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with more than 3,000 pages of documents exposing HSUS’ activities and calling for an investigation, the agency told me they could not discuss ongoing investigations and were also unable to confirm or deny whether or not an investigation was underway.”

Luetkemeyer continues, “This is the worst kind of government abuse that I have ever encountered in my more than two decades in public service and I am determined to get to the bottom of things on behalf of those folks who came to me three years ago with these allegations.”  http://luetkemeyer.house.gov

Please write to your own Congressman and ask why the IRS has ignored the repeated requests of Congressman Luetkemeyer to act upon the allegations that the HSUS was involved in political and lobbying activities that were in direct violation of its 501(c)3 tax-except status that prohibits such activities. A thorough investigation is needed to resolve this issue and to restore the faith and trust in our government.

The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.  Thanks for reading.

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

CALS announced as part of its summer 2013 program a two credit course, Animal Law: Policy Influences through Legislation, Lobbying, Litigation taught by Nancy Perry, National Center for Animal Law Board Member.  Perry is also the VP of Government Affairs at HSUS. She oversees federal and state legislative campaigns, litigation, regulatory affairs, and grassroots activities. Previously, as the grassroots coordinator, she spearheaded state animal protection ballot initiatives and coordinated litigation strategies.   The class will be held at the ASPCA offices in Washington DC.   The course will survey the legislative and regulatory process for contemporary issues, and the role of lobbying and litigation as tactics to protect animals at the local, state, and national level. The course will address a wide variety of topics: legislative drafting; lobbying strategies; federal, state and local legislative approaches; application and enforcement of federal statutes such as the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Slaughter Act, the Horse Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Wild Horses and Burros Act;  state laws and citizen initiatives concerning anti-cruelty, hunting, trapping, animal fighting, performing animals, and farm animals; consumer protection actions. The goal of this course is to expose students to the daily forums, procedures and unique challenges for animal law practitioners in the nation’s capital, to reinforce critical concepts for informed advocacy and give students hands on experience to prepare them to engage in the political, legislative and litigation work for animals.

May, 2013.  Former US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) took top honors from HSUS/HSLF as the 2012 Humane Legislator of the Year.  Brown was honored for:

  • Co-leading efforts to remove a polar bear trophy import provision from the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 which would have allowed importation of polar bear trophies taken in Canadian sport hunts before the polar bear was listed on the Endangered Species Act;
  • Original cosponsorship of the Egg Products Inspection Act to set federal government regulated standards for housing and raising egg-laying hens;
  • Cosponsorship of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption;
  • Cosponsoring the PUPS Act, S. 707, to license and federally regulate retail sellers of dogs;
  • And for sending a letter to USDA urging the agency to expedite its Proposed Retail Pet Sellers Rule.

In February Fox News Channel hired Brown as a contributor, stating that Brown’s dedication to out-of-the box thinking on key issues made him an important voice in the country.

Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment would require ballot issue groups to collect at least 75% of the valid signatures required in order to receive additional time to gather extra signatures once the petition has been turned in to the Secretary of State.

Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum would overturn Public Act 520, a law that allows the state to establish wolf hunting seasons in the Upper Peninsula.  On May 8 Governor Rick Snyder signed into law SB 288 which gives the Natural Resource Commission the authority to declare game animals and establish seasons without the need for action by the legislature. The law essentially renders the 2014 ballot referendum meaningless.

Missouri Right-to-Farm Amendment would add a section to the state constitution that explicitly guarantees farmers and ranchers the right to engage in their livelihoods and produce food for others.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some owners of exotic animals say a new Ohio law is onerous and infringes on their constitutional rights, and they've asked a federal appeals court to strike it down. Under the new law, owners who want to keep their animals must obtain new state-issued permits by Jan. 1, 2014. They must pass background checks, pay fees, obtain liability insurance or surety bonds and show inspectors they can properly contain the animals and care for them. The law exempts sanctuaries, research institutions and facilities accredited by the two national zoo groups. Attorney Robert Owens says in the brief filed with the 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that the only way for his clients to qualify for an exemption under the law is for them to join either the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Zoological Association of America — groups he says are at odds with his clients.

State Rep. Jason Smith (R) easily won Missouri’s heavily conservative 8th district special election yesterday.  Smith, the state House speaker pro tem replaces Jo Ann Emerson who resigned earlier this year to work in the private sector.  Smith, age 32, will become one of the youngest members of Congress.  In 2009 Smith received a Legislative Leader Award from SAOVA.

Friday, May 3, 2013

USDA/APHIS Rule Impacting Small/Hobby Breeders Advances For Executive Review

Federal Informational Update:

(Friday, May 03, 2013)
The AKC has learned that United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has completed a full review of all public comments on proposed changes to federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations affecting “Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions”. A final version of the rule has now advanced to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for further review and possible changes ahead of publication as a final rule by USDA. Typically, it takes 30-90 days for the OMB to review a final rule before it is returned to the USDA. Once a rule is published, there is generally a period of months before any changes to existing law are implemented.

No information about the contents of the final rule is available at this time. The AKC continues to express strong concerns to members of Congress and the USDA about the May 2012 proposed rule change. AKC will continue to provide updated information on the status of this rule and possible action to be taken as additional information becomes available.

The AKC remains extremely concerned about the May 2012 proposed change to AWA regulations that would require all who own more than four “breeding females” and sell even one animal “sight unseen” to be regulated as a commercial breeder and subject to federal commercial breeder licensing, regulation and inspections requirements. The term “breeding female” is not defined in this rule, so it is unclear how USDA or even breeders themselves would determine who falls under these regulations. The term also includes multiple species (including cats, dogs, and other small mammals).

The AKC believes that the USDA’s “one size fits all” regulations are not in the best interest of all dogs, responsible breeders, or puppy buyers. It is unreasonable and virtually impossible for many small hobby breeders to comply with the strict kennel engineering standards that were designed for large commercial operations.

For more information on this proposal, including AKC’s formal comments on the proposed rule, links to the AKC petition in opposition to the rule, fact sheets and frequently asked questions, visit AKC’s USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page.

Next Steps
The public comment period regarding the proposed rule closed in August 2012. Once again, AKC thanks the over 70,000 individuals who signed AKC’s petition in support of small hobby breeders, and the many individuals, clubs and organizations who also commented on the many problems with the proposed rule. No information about the contents of the final rule is available at this time. However, AKC will continue to provide updated information and possible action to be taken when additional information on the contents of the final rule becomes available.

This message is a service of the American Kennel Club's Government Relations Department and you are receiving it in response to your request.  This information may be reprinted or forwarded appropriately with a citation to AKC.   Our website address is:  http://www.akc.org

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Legislation Briefs April 27, 2013

Dear SAOVA Friends,

Never underestimate the resolve of animal rights organizations to bring an end to animal ownership and breeding as we know it today.  Following release of the APHIS 2014 Budget request, SAOVA reactivated the APHIS Rule Opposition List and it continues to grow. The list is truly an attention-getter; however, we need a HUGE push now to build it even larger before carrying it again to Congressional staff.

If your organization or business is not listed please do so now! EVERY state needs to be represented.  Send an email signed by an officer of the organization stating opposition to the Rule to Susan Wolf: cubhill@earthlink.net.  Please include state where your organization is located.  

The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.  Thanks for reading.

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Plans have been drafted to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.
Roughly 5,000 wolves are now living in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes and are believed to be enough to ensure their long-term survival without introducing gray wolves elsewhere, such as the West Coast, parts of New England and the Southern Rockies. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the rule is under internal review and will be subject to public comment before a final decision is made.

A bill based on the agreement between the HSUS and the United Egg Producers to set standards for egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs has been introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are cosponsors of S 820.  Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) has introduced a companion bill in the House.  HR 1731 is cosponsored by Representatives John Campbell (R-CA45); Jeff Denham (R-CA10); Sam Farr (D-CA20); Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA8); and Jared Huffman (D-CA2).

Sources say the United Egg Producers are committed to getting the legislation passed before the end of September. The Egg Bill establishes an approximately 18-year transition period where conventional cages will be phased out and hens will be housed in either enriched cages or in cage-free systems.

Fallout from Prop2, the 2008 HSUS backed ballot initiative in California, continues to threaten the California egg industry as 2015 draws closer and caged eggs will be banned. According to the 2008 UC Davis survey, California produces about 6 percent of the nation's table eggs, and consumes about 12 percent. The value of table egg production in California was about $330 million in 2007 and the industry produced almost 5 billion eggs per year from almost 20 million laying hens.

Although the number of eggs produced by cage-free hens has been increasing the last few years, hens housed in conventional cages are responsible for over 90 percent of egg production in the U.S.

Animal rights activists hacked the website of Hudson Valley Foie Gras — a large U.S. supplier — and sent the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of their customers to animal rights groups.  North American Animal Liberation Press Office published the information online.  To commemorate Earth Day, hackers targeted Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest foie gras farm in the U.S., because they believe the ducks are being tortured.

Never one to let an opportunity for media attention slip by, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) immediately sent a letter California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking her to investigate purchases by California residents that appeared on the hacked list.  ALDF wrote, “While wealthy restaurateurs and foreign corporations are exploiting California's under enforcement of the foie gras law, the state struggles with a budget crisis and cities flirt with bankruptcy. California taxpayers should not be subsidizing persistent violators when the state is nearly bankrupt and the foie gras law authorizes citations payable to enforcing agencies up to $1,000 per sale.”

Activists occupied an animal facility at the University of Milan, Italy releasing mice and rabbits and mixing up cage labels to confuse experimental protocols. Researchers at the university say that it will take years to recover their work. Many of the animals at the facility are genetic models for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Some of the mice they removed were delicate mutants and immunosuppressed nude mice, which die very quickly outside controlled environments.

Five activists entered laboratories in the university’s pharmacology department on Saturday morning. The lack of signs of a break-in suggests that the activists may have used an illegally acquired electronic card to enter the lab. Activists posted photos of themselves on their website; two of them chained themselves by the neck to the main double doors. The department plans to press charges for theft and trespassing, and to recover financial damages.

Researchers worldwide are being asked to condemn acts these acts of extremism.

SANTA CRUZ -- A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc. alleging the company abused and neglected goats and rabbits. Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Marigonda dismissed the suit filed by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund on behalf of an organization called Stop Animal Exploitation Now after ruling that the local court was not the proper forum to address it.  Santa Cruz Biotech supplies antibodies and other research materials to laboratories around the world. Last year it was ranked as the second-largest supplier in the United State's $1.6 billion global market for research antibodies, according to the journal Nature.
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel http://tinyurl.com/c6w3r3s

Introduced April 2, 2013. Resolution H930 proposes to amend the Constitution of Maine to provide that the citizens of Maine have the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject to statutes enacted and agency rules that promote wildlife conservation and preserve the future of hunting and fishing, and to provide that public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

Registry bills were introduced in 16 states for 2013 with multiple bills introduced in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The bills do not appear to have any momentum again this year; however, HB3747 in Texas is scheduled for a hearing Monday, April 29, 2013.  Texas residents are urged to oppose this measure.

In Hawaii the Attorney General’s office and the Public Defender’s office submitted testimony in Opposition to the animal abuser registry. The Attorney General noted that only nine (9) potential covered offenders in the past fifteen years would be required to register under this proposed 2013 bill and expressed concern about the resources and funds that would be needed to set up, maintain, administer, and enforce the proposed registry for so few individuals. The Office of the Public Defender stated in their opposition that the registry proposed in this measure makes no sense.  In addition they wrote, “While there is a governmental interest in keeping track of sex offenders, especially those who prey on strangers and children, there is no such interest or similar benefit in keeping track of animal abusers. These individuals do not typically prey on stray animals or pets that belong to strangers. The cases we have seen usually involve individuals abusing their own pets or a business owner and/or employee that mistreat their animals.”  The letter continued, “The funds allocated to maintaining this registry would be better utilized by providing counseling to the offender and/or their family members.”

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Frankie Trull is president of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a Washington, DC–based organization that advocates for sound public policy in support of ethical and essential animal research. She is also the President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a non-profit organization that educates the public about animal research. In 1991, Trull was the recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award from The Endocrine Society and the Presidential Award from the Society for Neuroscience. In 2003, she was given a Special Recognition Award from the American College of Laboratory Medicine (ACLAM). In 2005, Trull received the Public Service Award from the Association of Allergy and Immunology, the Society of Toxicology's Contribution to the Public Awareness of Animal Welfare Award, and the award for Education in Neuroscience from the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs (ANDP). The Association of American Medical Colleges awarded Trull their Special Recognition Award in 2007 and in 2010 she was made an Honorary Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Medicine.

Mrs. Trull graciously consented to conduct an interview with SAOVA to discuss the benefits of animal research, the function of NABR, and federal legislation that would expand the scope of the Animal Welfare Act.

Q:   How does the focus of NABR differ from that of its sister organization, the Foundation for Biomedical Research?
A:            Whereas the Foundation is a public education charity that focuses on informing and educating the public about the importance of animals in biomedical research, NABR is an institutional membership  association with the mission of ensuring sound public policy for the humane use of animals in biomedical research. NABR spends a great deal of time educating law makers and executive branch officials, and when necessary engages the courts in support of its mission. NABR’s membership is comprised of 340 institutions, both public and private, in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Q:  This month PETA posted a job listing online for an Undercover Investigator. In the job description, the Position Objective is “to use a variety of undercover investigative methods to conduct field investigations in PETA's focus areas, including the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment.”   How does the research community prepare itself for intrusions of this nature into their daily routines? 
A:            The threat of an animal rights activist infiltrating a biomedical research facility is very real and has occurred multiple times in the past. With more than three decades of experience, NABR advises facilities on best practices for both preventing and managing the consequences of infiltrations. We also provide each of our members with a comprehensive Crisis Management Guide which walks them through the process of protecting their facilities and employees and developing and maintaining a crisis management team.

Q:   The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) excludes coverage of rats, mice and birds used for research.  In December 2012, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) introduced legislation that would rescind these exemptions, claiming it restores the original intent of Congress.  As NABR was instrumental in obtaining the statutory exemptions and amendments, has your position changed over the years regarding regulatory intent of the AWA?
A:            NABR is currently in the process of surveying its membership to determine how many rats and mice are in use at research facilities across the U.S. Although rats and mice make up more than 95% of all animals in biomedical research, the institutional responses to the survey will help NABR determine more precisely how such legislation may affect both the regulated community and those institutions that have never before been regulated by the USDA. For example, many small biotechnology companies only use rats and mice, meaning they would likely be subject to the same regulations as much larger institutions. This could potentially be very costly, time consuming, and could present a threat to struggling small businesses -- especially when one considers the Secretary of Agriculture has the legal authority to levy fines against a research facility up to $10,000 per animal, per day. The costs could be astronomical. Furthermore, because of the large number of rodents used in research it is unclear whether the USDA would have the resources to regulate the species. With the fiscal constraints Congress has been facing, it seems unlikely they would appropriate additional funds for these purposes.

Q:    In their white paper, ALDF claims that withholding federal protection from these animals means that researchers need not consider alternatives to animal research and are under no obligation to minimize an animal’s pain, provide a minimum standard of care, or implement proper euthanasia techniques.  Aren’t research animals already highly regulated? Are there industry standards and protocols to address any gaps in external regulations?
A:            If an institution receives federal funding from any branch of the Public Health Service, including NIH,   it must file an animal welfare assurance document with the agency which requires it to adhere to the recommendations contained in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Guide serves as the basis for welfare for all vertebrate biomedical research animals, and addresses all of the aforementioned concerns. Furthermore, many institutions and companies using animals in biomedical research are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), which uses the Guide as the basis for its accreditation process. FDA and EPA regulated companies must comply with Good Laboratory Practices.  Finally, and most importantly, it's in the best interests of a research program to insure animals are treated well and without pain because stressed animals skew research results.

Q:   According to ALDF, this legislation will provide sweeping animal welfare benefits at little cost.  Has NABR completed any estimates of the cost burden should this additional regulation should become law?
A:            When this subject was under debate in 2001, NABR estimated that regulating rats, mice and birds under the Animal Welfare Act would cost USDA registered research facilities an additional $84 million annually, in mostly administrative compliance costs.  Facilities that would have been required to register with USDA for the first time might have spent $80 to $200 million to comply with all statutory requirements. The USDA APHIS budget would also be impacted – inspectors’ workload would double or even triple.

Q:   There are many steps being taken by animal rights lawyers to lay the groundwork in courts that test current requirements for legal standing and push the courts to give animals limited rights.  How would even small changes in property status affect use of animals in research?
A:            The ultimate goal of many animal rights lawyers is to obtain legal standing for animals.  Changing the property status of animals is the first step in a long term process aimed at enabling well-funded animal rights organizations to bring expensive and time-consuming legal actions that would entail potentially enormous costs.  Lawyers filing lawsuits on behalf of animals could challenge their use in research programs, as pets, in animal sports, in agriculture and in a multitude of other contexts. While some changes are being pushed for in the courts, animal rights organizations are simultaneously pursuing legal rights for animals through federal and state legislation, ballot initiatives and other means. In fact, just this year a bill was introduced in Massachusetts that would permit any person to bring a legal action "for the protection and humane treatment of animals." 

Q:     The recent panel study report to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends downsizing chimpanzee facilities. Will the remaining colony of chimpanzees kept for research fill the needs for future studies? At one time, weren't chimpanzees the only good model for certain human HIV research? How did that change?  With emerging diseases and resistant infections, how might the loss of future research animals via regulation impact the prospect for advances in medical research to alleviate human suffering?
A:            Science is constantly evolving, so animal models change as well. The Institute of Medicine and an NIH working group have determined that the chimpanzee model is not necessary for some types of research. It is unclear whether the NIH director will simply accept the working group’s recommendations or will elaborate on the future of federal research chimps.  Much was learned about HIV from chimps, but the virus does not make them sick in the same way as it does people, so they did not prove to be the optimal model.  Should there be a disease as devastating as AIDS in the future, the chimp may prove pivotal to treating and curing the disease, so it would seem prudent and in the best interest of the public health to maintain a breeding colony.

Q:   Last month SAOVA reported to our readers that the ALDF website lists the formation of 171 U.S. Student Animal Legal Defense Chapters.  In addition there are State Bar Animal Law Sections and Committees in 24 states plus the American Bar Association.  Animal Law Courses are now taught in 144 schools, up from just 9 in 2000.   Realistically, the field of animal law exists for the purpose of changing how animals are viewed in the legal system.  How concerned is the research community about this rapidly growing field and its potential impact?
A:            As the field of animal law has grown, so have the legal departments and pro bono networks of sophisticated, well-financed animal rights organizations.  It is clear that many animal rights organizations and animal rights lawyers believe research with animals should be severely restricted or prohibited.  Through academic scholarship in five animal law journals and law reviews, lawyers and law students within the animal rights movement have begun to lay the groundwork and develop new legal theories to grant additional legal protections to animals, including research animals.  Ultimately, these efforts have the potential to seriously impact life-saving medical and scientific research.  NABR has been monitoring these developments for some time and has developed an Animal Law website that provides information tracking law courses, lawsuits, court decisions as well as the laws and regulations in place to ensure the humane use of animals in biomedical research. www.nabranimallaw.org/

Q:           We read headlines almost every day about breakthroughs in research.   Most medical advancements have been dependent upon animal research.  What species are most commonly used and why are these species so useful in biomedical research?
A:            Rodents are, by far, the most common animal model in biomedical research and safety testing.  And these are not your garden variety rodents.  For example, mice specially bred with specific genetic characteristics are designed for the disease under study, whether its diabetes, birth defects or obesity. This has revolutionized medical research and opened many doors to finding new cures for disease, especially cancer.

Research with dogs, cats, and non-human primates is necessary to study certain diseases. However, as biomedical research changes and evolves, the number of these animals used in research has dropped dramatically over the last several decades.  In fact, these animals account for less than .05 percent of the total number of lab animals used in research. Several additional species are proving to be increasingly important animal models, including zebrafish, C. Elegans (worms) and fruit flies

Q:  Human health has obviously benefited from animal research but animals benefit too through development of vaccines, cancer treatments, and surgical procedures. What are some of the most exciting areas of current research?
A:            Dr. James Cook, a researcher at University of Missouri, is developing biological joint replacements for both people and animals.  Cook has created new cartilage in animals using a biological “scaffold” in the animals’ joints. This research could do away with metal and plastic joints, and instead, regenerate a fully functional biologic joint for anyone who needs one.

Another exciting example of animal research is happening now at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.  Doctors have developed a vaccine for a deadly brain cancer that affects both people and dogs.  Doctors recruit pet owners to enroll their dogs with brain cancer into a study.  After removing the tumor from a dog’s brain during surgery, the doctors create a cancer vaccine using that dog’s unique tumor cells. They inject the dog with several rounds of vaccination and eventually the dog builds up immunity to the cancer.  The dog’s immune cells act like an army to kill the foreign invader, the brain tumor.  This vaccine is extending dogs’ lives dramatically and many dogs become tumor-free. What the scientists are gleaning from this cancer research helps not only man’s best friend, but also may help human brain cancer patients facing a grim prognosis.

Q:   Animal Rights Activists who oppose use of animals in medical testing claim that various testing procedures exist, such as in vitro cell culture testing and computer simulations, as well as expanded use of human volunteers for micro dose drug testing, which make the use of animals in medical research obsolete. What role does the in vivo animal model fulfill in medical research that cannot be substituted through these other non-animal protocols?          
A:            To date, there is no comprehensive substitute for animal models in research. In certain areas of study, like toxicology, the number of animals required has dropped dramatically and been replaced with cell cultures, tissue cultures, mathematical and other models.  These non-animal methodologies are often much less expensive and faster than animal models. But for basic and biomedical research, there is a need for a whole, living system and an animal substitute does not exist.

In order to study something with a computer model you have to know enough about the disease to put it into a computer.  There are so many diseases scientists are still learning about, particularly diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and autism.  Understanding the underlying mechanisms of the brain must be studied in a brain.  A computer model simply can't substitute.

It would, of course, be preferable not  to use animals for research study, but simplistic claims that animal research should be obsolete ignores the complexity of the research process.  One only has to go to a children's cancer ward or a trauma center or have a parent with Alzheimer's disease to realize medical research has a lot of work to do to alleviate pain and suffering, and animal models remain our best bet to discover how to cure disease. When additional non-animal alternatives are developed, science will naturally reduce the need and use of animal models. This progression will only happen when viable alternatives exist and are scientifically validated.

Q:  Blum v. Holder is a federal lawsuit challenging the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.  How is NABR’s involved in this case?
A:            NABR, joined by eleven other organizations, filed an amicus brief in this lawsuit on March 12, 2012, explaining the specific Rules of Construction in the law which expressly exempts constitutionally-protected free speech from the AETA and urging the U.S. District Court in the District of Massachusetts to find the AETA constitutional.  NABR filed the brief to ensure the court is aware of the AETA’s importance to the biomedical research community and make certain that the strongest possible defense is presented.  The brief argues the law is a measured and important response to threats, intimidation, and economic harm committed by animal rights extremists against research facilities and scientists who conduct life-saving research with laboratory animals. During an August 29, 2012 hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss the case, several of the points raised by NABR’s brief were argued.  NABR, along with many others, is awaiting the court’s decision.