NJ Senate bill S1034 and sister bill A4399 would establish a “special, nonlapsing fund to be known as the ‘Compassion for Community Cats Fund” that would be funded in part by “moneys as may be appropriated by the Legislature.”

Before discussing the provisions set forth in these bills, one has to wonder if this is the appropriate time to consider such legislation—at a time when so many people and businesses are suffering from the economic impact of COVID-19.

That said, the issue of population control of feral cats, notably considered invasive species, is important.  However the proposed bills do not adequately address the harm to wildlife from these populations, or the potential spread of diseases to other animals, including people.

Field research conducted using sound research design and data collection techniques yielded statistically significant evidenced-based estimates that cats kill at least one billion wild birds each year in the US (including homed outdoor cats, free-roaming abandoned cats, and feral cats).  Free-roaming abandoned and feral cats also contribute to Toxoplasma gondii contamination of watersheds and local ecosystems, threatening wildlife and human health.

The emerging science and policy decisions surrounding SARS-CoV-2 necessitates focused consideration on the impact of human disease outbreaks or other disruptions to care and services provided to free-roaming abandoned and feral cats in future emergent events.

Furthermore, euthanasia of feral cats experiencing serious medical conditions must continue to be available as a tool veterinarians can use to ensure that humane end of life provisions are available when indicated.

There are at least two additional concerns in the proposed bills.

First, they seem to dilute the decades long Animal Population Control Program that has provided low cost sterilization of owned dogs and cats whose owners meet the eligibility requirements set forth by law (providing proof of low income).  The program is funded in part by local licensing requirements, fees collected for the NJ animal welfare license plates and as appropriated by the legislature.  However, these funds have historically been insufficient to provide for all requested sterilizations.  The addition of feral cat procedures to this oversubscribed program, will result in unintended consequences to the owned pets who should be sterilized to reduce unintended breeding.

Second, the bill would permit the commissioner of health to “contract with a nonprofit organization that is exempt from federal taxation pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the federal ‘Internal Revenue Code,’ 26 U.S.C. s.501(c)(3), for the administration of the Animal Population Control Program established pursuant to section 2 of P.L. 1983, c.172 (C.4:19A-1).”

A nonprofit organization is not the appropriate entity to administer the Animal Population Control Program.  Unlike the Department of Health, who has stated that they are neither in favor of or opposed to community care of feral cats, nonprofit organizations often have expressed a bias for or against such populations.  Instead, the Domestic Animal Companion Board that provides oversight of the Department of Health’s animal health programs and funding, should provide oversight to this program, if it is expanded as proposed.

Plaintiff Juliette Morizur and Plaintiff Kelly Nelson, along with other plaintiffs (at least one of whom dismissed his claims with prejudice, evidencing the sham nature of those claims) sued Sea World Parks and Entertainment, Inc. in 2015, claiming that they bought tickets to or bought a stuffed animal at SeaWorld because they allegedly relied on statements posted on SeaWorld’s website, including “SeaWorld did not separate calves from mothers”; “SeaWorld’s captive orcas had similar lifespans to those in the wild”; “collapsed dorsal fins are normal, and also equally common in the wild”; and “captivity in general does not harm orcas.”

On October 13, 2020, Hon. Jeffrey S. White, USDJ put an end to this sham of a lawsuit when he entered an order and separate judgment concluding that “Plaintiffs have failed to prove they have Article III standing to seek injunctive relief and fail to prove they have statutory standing to pursue their state law claims” and closed the case.

Standing has been a longstanding obstacle in many cases filed by animal rights organizations.  See, e.g., Cetacean Community v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004); Naruto v Slater, 2016 WL 362231 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2016).

Here, the Court explained, in part,

Questions of Article III standing go to a federal court’s subject-matter jurisdiction.  In order to demonstrate Article III standing, Plaintiffs must show they: ‘(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision’ . . . In addition to restitution, Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, and they must establish Article III standing for both forms of relief . . . (Internal and end citations omitted).

. . .

Plaintiffs must prove they have standing by a preponderance of the evidence.

. . .

Past exposure to harmful or illegal conduct does not necessarily confer standing to seek injunctive relief if the plaintiff does not continue to suffer adverse effects.  Plaintiffs must prove that they have ‘suffered or [are] threatened with a ‘concrete and particularized’ legal harm . . . coupled with a ‘sufficient likelihood that [they] will again be wronged in a similar way’ . . . The latter inquiry turns on whether Plaintiffs face a ‘real and immediate threat of repeated injury’ . . . The threat of future injury cannot be ‘conjectural or hypothetical’ but must be ‘certainly impending’ to constitute an injury in fact for injunctive relief purposes.

The Court reviewed Plaintiffs deposition and trial testimony, and found them to be internally inconsistent, and “found that neither Ms. Nelson’s nor Ms. Morizur’s trial testimony that they, in fact intend to return to or purchase merchandise from SeaWorld is credible, the Court concludes they have not met their burden to prove they are faced with a real and immediate threat of an ongoing or repeated injury. Accordingly, Ms. Nelson and Ms. Morizur have failed to meet their burden to show they have Article III standing to seek injunctive relief on their claims.”

Standing has been a longstanding obstacle to plaintiffs, particularly in the animal rights arena.  It is unfortunate that it can take years for defendants to obtain sufficient evidence to dismiss such a suit, through costly discovery and motion practice, and after suffering irrevocable harm to their business.

There have been two of the three scheduled listening sessions offered by APHIS seeking comments on regulations regarding the welfare of birds not bred for use in research.  A specific schedule for the promulgation, proposal and final adoption of these regulations as ordered by the D.C. Circuit in January 2020, in Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc’y v. United States Dep’t of Agric., 946 F.3d 615. The final listening session is scheduled on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

USDA provides for registration on its website:

                To register for the listening sessions and learn more about the comment process, please visit: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/aw-news/bird-listening-sessions.

Are there appropriate performance-based standards we could establish across a wide variety of species of birds?  Can we use classes of birds to set performance-based standards appropriate for the class?  If so, what might these classes look like?

How do bird breeders avoid interfering with nesting and breeding or other biological activities of birds?   How can we ensure that housing, feeding, or inspection requirements do not interfere with these activities?

Should we revise or add exemptions for certain dealers, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers of birds not bred for use in research?  If so, what should those exemptions be?  Please provide supporting data if possible.

Are there thresholds beyond which an entity should not be required to be licensed?  For example, we are aware that there are many entities who breed small numbers of birds; if we should exempt those entities, what exemption criteria should we use?

Are there certain species which should be exempt?

During the first listening session, representatives from PETA and other animal rights organizations expressed concern about APHIS’s request for comments regarding potential exemptions, stating that no exemptions should be permitted.

If you have an interest or concern about the content of these regulations, you should participate in the process and submit verbal and written comments.

This Press Release, republished with permission, is available in Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, and Spanish.

The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) is calling on stakeholder groups – including dog show enthusiasts, kennel and breed clubs, legislators, dog owners, veterinarians, welfare advocates – from all regions and countries to come together to address issues currently impacting the health, welfare, and breeding of dogs.

Our article, Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration and Collective Actions (also available in Dutch, Finnish, French, German, and Spanish), responds to a wave of recent legislative actions, especially in Europe. Although primarily focused on brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, regulations may eventually impact all pedigree and non-pedigree dogs.

“This is a call for each one of us to examine how our personal attitudes, attachments, and beliefs impact these discussions, says Dr. Brenda Bonnett, CEO, IPFD.  “And it is a call to work collectively for what is truly in the best interest of dogs and the people who care for them.”

A key part of IPFD’s mission is to encourage, initiate, and facilitate collaboration among key stakeholders in the dog world to enhance dog health, well-being and welfare, and support human-dog interactions. “IPFD is a multi-stakeholder, international organization,” says Dr. Pekka Olson, IPFD Chair. “And it is perfectly positioned to encourage and facilitate open, respectful dialogue and collective actions in the best interest of both dogs and people.” Many of today’s challenges have been part of discussions at and actions from IPFD’s International Dog Health Workshops. The new IPFD International Working Group on Extreme Conformation in Dogs is one such initiative.

IPFD has compiled extensive resources to advance the conversation called for in this article. Together with collaborators from various sectors, we are creating a roadmap for the future, i.e. to help us to Think Globally, Act Locally.

“While we understand and respect the differences in attitudes and realities in different regions and across stakeholder groups, we also know there is common ground and shared purpose,” Bonnett adds. “Everyone who has any interest in dogs, pedigree dogs, and the world of ‘dogs and people’ is encouraged to become engaged in addressing challenges. This article and accompanying resources will support this process.”

The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) is a non-profit organization leading a global, multi-stakeholder effort to address issues affecting dog health, well-being, and welfare. Our main platform is DogWellNet.com. Our people include a Board comprised of individuals with respected international reputations, and a small but committed team of consultants in several countries. Volunteers from our Partners and Collaborator organizations and a network of experts are integral to what we do.
Our Contributors, Partners, and Sponsors include national kennel clubs, international cynological organizations, groups with breed specific interests, educational/academic and professional organizations, and key players in the pet industry. Together we foster collaborative action to achieve our shared goals, support human-animal interactions, and benefit all dogs worldwide.

For More Information:
Follow developments and find further resources on DogWellNet.com and learn about the IPFD.

Contact article author, Dr. Brenda N. Bonnett, CEO, IPFD, at Brenda.Bonnett@ipfdogs.co

The bill that provides for an advocate in criminal cases in New Jersey, concerning the welfare of care of animals has been reintroduced as A 4533 with additional language which renders it even more problematic for animal owners than before.

A preamble was added as Section 1, stating

  1. The Legislature finds and declares that animals are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress, and fear. It is the policy of New Jersey that, in order to protect animals from experiencing pain, stress, or fear at human hands, animals are to be treated humanely. For that reason, animals shall be considered the victims of animal cruelty crimes and shall be treated as such in a court of law. (Emphasis added).

If this bill passes, the state should expect to see cases filed on behalf of animals as animal cruelty victims who are legal persons at least with respect to their rights under the animal cruelty law, the argument Plaintiff and Appellant have used in Justice v. Vercher, No. A169933 (Washington Co. Cir. July 8, 2019).

In an Amicus Brief filed by law professors in Justice v. Vercher, No. A169933 (Washington Co. Cir. July 18, 2019), they state that “[t]he Oregon Supreme Court [which] has construed Oregon anti-cruelty laws as defining animals (not their owners), as victims of crime.”  (Animal Law Professors Amicus Curiae Brief, p. 8).  The Oregon statute cited describes animals as sentient being capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear.  Id., at pp. 6-7 (citing ORG 167.305).

The amendments to proposed A 4533 expressly include both statements-that animals are sentient beings and that animals shall be considered the victims of animal cruelty crimes, in an apparent attempt to create a stronger argument that in such cases, they would be considered legal persons.  As Professor Richard Cupp stated, discussing concerns about the elevation of animals to persons,

[i]f courts adopted this radical animal legal personhood theory, it could lead to personhood arguments ostensibly on behalf of hundreds of millions or perhaps even billions of other animals as potential plaintiffs, and could allow animal rights activists to flood the courts with a huge volume of lawsuits asserting to represent the new legal persons. Further, if animal legal personhood were accepted in this context, litigation would doubtless quickly spread to lawsuits challenging biomedical research on such ‘persons,’ any commercial use of such ‘persons,’ and pet ownership of such ‘persons.’  Justice v. Vercher, No. A169933 (Washington Co. Cir Nov. 12, 2019) (Professor Richard L. Cupp Jr Amicus Brief at p. 6.).

In addition to these real concerns about the results of the potential consequences of the adoption of A 4533, adding an additional advocate for animals in cases of animal cruelty is not needed in New Jersey.    County prosecutors, and municipal prosecutors if assigned, are already charged with that duty.

An animal cruelty prosecutor shall:

  1. promote the interests of, and protect and care for, animals within the county L.2017, c. 331, § 31, eff. Aug. 1, 2018, NJSA 4:22-14.7 (a)

Each county prosecutor shall:

(1) designate any municipal or county prosecutor as the animal cruelty prosecutor of the county, and may designate any assistant animal cruelty prosecutor as needed, who shall investigate, prosecute, and take other legal action as appropriate for violations of any provision of article 2 of chapter 22 of Title 4 of the Revised Statutes, and who may serve in such capacity on a part-time basis if the responsibilities of the position allow.  L.2017, c. 331, § 28, eff. May 1, 2018.

This bill will not benefit animals since the protection of their rights not to be treated cruelly is already invested in prosecutors.  This will only benefit advocates who want to advance the rights of animals as persons.

On July 15, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, filed its decision, holding that “dives made by aquarium staff members to feed animals housed at aquarium and to clean the facility’s tanks qualified as “scientific diving” within [the] meaning of [the] exemption,” and reversing OSHA’s order finding the opposite which was affirmed by an Administrative Law Judge.  Houston Aquarium, Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, 965 F. 3d 433 (5th Cir. 2020).

The Court reviewed the relevant exemption as a matter of first impression.   It agreed with Houston Aquarium, that the dives in question met the regulatory definition of scientific diving.  OSHA’s safety requirements for diving employers includes standards for Commercial Diving Operations (CDO).  The CDO

‘applies to diving and related support operations conducted in connection with all types of work and employments, including general industry, construction, ship repairing, shipbuilding, shipbreaking and longshoring.’  29 C.F.R. § 1910.401(a)(2).

But there is an exemption to the CDO standards for “any diving operation … [d]efined as scientific
diving and which is under the direction and control of a diving program’ that includes a diving safety manual with minimum safety procedures and a controlling diving safety board.”

Scientific diving is diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activity by employees whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks.  Scientific diving does not include performing any tasks usually associated with commercial diving such as: Placing or removing heavy objects underwater; inspection of pipelines and similar objects; construction; demolition; cutting or welding; or the use of explosives.

OSHA, affirmed by an Administrative Law Judge focused only on the first part of the definition of “scientific diving” and found that the aquarium’s dives and found that the feeding and cleaning dives performed by aquaria staff did not fall within the exemption.

The Court, reviewing the facts about the dives in question in light of the entire definition of “scientific diving” found,

the activities performed during the feeding and cleaning dives fall within the plain text of the exemption. During feeding and cleaning dives, divers perform tasks such as scrubbing the exhibit windows free of algae, siphoning the gravel at the bottom of exhibits, and feeding the animals. Divers testified that one focus of cleaning dives is removing aiptasia, a genus of sea anemone that reproduces quickly and can ‘overrun’ the exhibits if not handled correctly. They also testified that if an animal needs to be captured or observed more closely, this would be done during a feeding or cleaning dive. The Aquarium’s expert witness Smith testified that during all Aquarium dives, including feeding and cleaning dives, the divers ‘are required to make observations of animal health, animal behaviors, the type of food they’re eating, the type of algae that grows on the windows, [and] the condition of the exhibitory,’ all of which Smith classified as the collection of data.

This is good news for aquaria, while not binding in other circuits, especially since OSHA has prohibited certain activities in other aquaria-related settings.

 

USDA published proposed Rule 85 FR 18471 on April 2, 2020 that would,

amend the animal disease regulations to provide for a National List of Reportable Animal Diseases, along with reporting responsibilities for animal health professionals that encounter or suspect cases of communicable animal diseases and disease agents. These proposed changes are necessary to streamline State and Federal cooperative animal disease detection, response, and control efforts. This action would consolidate and enhance current disease reporting mechanisms, and would complement and supplement existing animal disease tracking and reporting at the State level.

USDA received 50 comments from individuals and the following organizations and agencies:

American Veterinary Medical Association*, The National Pork Producers Council, The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, The Swine Health Information Center, American Academy of Veterinary and Comparative Toxicology, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians*, American Board of Veterinary Toxicologists, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, American Sheep Industry Association, California Department of Food & Agriculture, National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials*, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Inc., New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming Livestock Board, and North America Independent Reference Laboratories.

While these commenters all acknowledged the importance of accurate and “immediate” notification to effectuate adequate and timely response, but concerns about APHIS’ proposed rule include:

  1. Mandatory reporting requirements by individuals and entities that are not veterinarians, and therefore, according to some commenters not adequately trained to diagnose animal diseases. For example, the rule would require a laboratory to report a “confirmed case” based merely on a test result.  The North America Independent Reference Laboratories commented that veterinarian should be responsible for diagnosis/reporting under a veterinary client-patient relationship.  Specifically, this commenter noted that “an accurate diagnosis of disease cannot be made without a physical exam of the animal(s), evaluation of health/exposure history, vaccination status of the animal(s), non-infective environmental exposure vs. actual infection/disease, etc.”
  2. Providing a definition of “immediate reporting,” for example, as “within twelve (12) hours of a suspected FAD or knowledge of diagnostic testing results.”
  3. How would USDA protect the confidentiality of information reported?
  4. How the federal rule would impact existing state laws mandating reporting to the state?

The issues of greatest concern include the expansion of mandatory reporting requirements from accredited veterinarians, to the proposed list of animal health professionals with the training that would be required.  This expansion devalues the importance and role veterinarians play in protecting their patients, clients and the public from infectious diseases.

Also, because such reporting would likely result in false positive results, the consequences of such reporting would unnecessarily and negatively impact livestock producers and markets that would be prohibited from exporting animals and products from impacted states or the region or country as a whole.

Finally, even if the rule were to include confidentiality provisions, courts would ultimately determine whether the information can be protected when challenged by anyone making a request through the Freedom of Information Act.  USDA has had significant experience defending its actions in response to such legal challenges.

USDA has reopened the comment period, but it is now set to close August 21, 2020.

 

 

*I am either currently or was previously a member of these associations.

A4504, a new bill introduced in the NJ Assembly, would establish the “Stray Animal Study Commission,” to:

(1) identify and study stray animal and animal control issues in the State, including issues surrounding stray and feral cats colloquially referred to as “community cats” and “cat colonies,” and any funding shortfalls with regard to the issues identified; (2) study, explore, and develop solutions to (a) stray animal or animal control problems identified, and (b) problems in municipalities concerning feral cats, community cats, or cat colonies; and (3) provide recommendations for legal action, legislation, and possible funding sources address stray animal or animal control problems in the State, including, but not limited to, those associated with feral cats, community cats, or cat colonies.

While feral cats remain a concern generally, with the ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and the economy, it does not seem to be an opportune time to redirect the NJ Department of Health’s resources to such a study.

Additionally, the proposed 11-member commission fails to include interested, knowledgeable stakeholders, such as feline and avian veterinarians and environmental and wildlife organizations. These additional members o can be identified from the organizations listed in the NJDOH’s publication “Free-Roaming and Feral Cats,” including: American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Bird Conservancy, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Association of Avian Veterinarians and New Jersey Audubon Society.”

Proposed members currently only include: the Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of Community Affairs, and the Executive Director of the State Commission of Investigation, or their designees, who shall serve ex officio; a representative of the Humane Society of the United States, a representative of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a representative of the New Jersey Animal Control Officers Association, and a representative of a county prosecutor’s office, and four directors or chief operating officers of animal shelters or pounds in the State.

The management of feral cat populations is highly controversial and concerns the health and welfare of feral cats, wild birds, the environmental impact and public health concerns.

Millions of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats exist in the United States. Most of these cats will suffer premature mortality from disease, starvation, weather extremes, or trauma, or euthanasia. Free-roaming and abandoned and feral cats are non-native predators and cause considerable wildlife destruction and ecosystem disruption, including the deaths of hundreds of birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They also pose a threat to public health. Zoonotic concerns include viral (e.g., rabies), bacterial (e.g., Yersinia pestis [plague], Fancisella tularensis, Campylobacter spp., Bartonella spp.), fungal . . . and parasitic diseases.
More information is available on AVMA and AAFP’s websites.

When the time is right to form this commission, necessary and additional members should be added, as described herein, .

The California Veterinary Medical Board has proposed amending the California Code of Regulations to clarify the process for veterinarians to compound drugs in a veterinary office for the treatment of an animal patient.  As reported in the “Initial Statement of Reasons,”

[t]he regulatory proposal is intended to provide guidance and an enforcement mechanism for inspectors to determine whether veterinarians and RVTs [registered veterinary technicians] are compounding drugs in accordance with their scope of practice, experience, and premises.  The rulemaking is necessary to provide veterinarians with guidance on the proper procedures for storing, handling, and preparing compounded drugs.

The Board’s regulations require the establishment of a valid veterinary client patient relationship before administering, dispensing or prescribing a drug, including a compounded drug.

The proposed regulations include a definition of “Compounding” which

means any of the following activities performed in a registered veterinary premises by a licensed veterinarian that has established the veterinarian-client-patient relationship for the animal patient(s) or a registered veterinary technician under the direct or indirect supervision of that veterinarian:

(1) Altering the dosage form or delivery system of a drug.

(2) Altering the strength of a drug.

(3) Combining components or active ingredients.

(4) Preparing a compounded drug preparation from chemicals.

The regulations would permit use of bulk substances for compounding but would require the direct supervision of a RVT if they were preparing the compounded medication from bulk substances.  Medications would not be considered compounded if they were reconstituted “pursuant to a manufacturer’s direction(s) for oral, rectal, topical, or injectable administration” or were simply split, crushed or a capsule was opened or flavorings were added to increase palatability.

The regulations require veterinarians to list an expiration date on a label of any dispensed compounded drug and to “ensure the safety and efficacy of a compounded drug preparation.”  It is unclear how safety and efficacy will be determined, keeping in mind that since the 1962, Congress amended the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requiring that drug manufacturers must demonstrate to FDA that a drug is effective and safe before its approval and marketing.  While FDA has stated in Guidance #256, it “does not intend to take enforcement action for violations of the FD&C Act” when veterinarians compound medications for animal patients in compliance with its guidance, it also states that “[a]nimal drugs that are not FDA-approved, conditionally approved, or indexed are considered ‘unsafe’ and, therefore ‘adulterated’ under sections 512(a)(1) and 501(a)(5) of the FD&C Act.”  See Guidance #256, at n. 6.

California would also require veterinarians to conduct appropriate staff training and record keeping for the preparation, use and storage of compounded medications including, for example:  written policies and procedures manuals; formula documents for each compounded medication; the strength of the compounded formula; and a quality assurance program.

Veterinarians, pharmacists, registered veterinary technicians and other stakeholders should comment as described in the Notice of Regulatory Action about any concerns they may have about the proposed regulations and its potential impact no later than August 31, 2020.

Notable regulatory amendments and COVID-19-related inspection guidelines, described below, will impact Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensees and registrants

New rules, finalized in May, 2020, amended the long-standing licensing renewal procedures and added additional requirements for veterinary care and canine husbandry requirements.  As reported by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the rule affects “nearly 6,000, persons who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes” and, in part, to USDA registrants.

The rule dismantles the annual renewal process for licensees following the initial approval of a license after the applicant proves they are in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and related regulations.  Now, instead of an annual renewal thereafter, with regular unannounced inspections, licensees will have to prove they are in compliance every three years in order to obtain a three-year license.

A new license must be obtained upon change of ownership, location, activities, or [types or numbers of] animals.

For additional information about the amendments to the licensing requirements, see USDA’s Tech Note, “Questions and Answers: Three-Year Animal Welfare Act (AWA) License.

Also new, and applicable to licensees and registrants, dogs must have continuous access to potable water 24/7/365 days a year (with some minor, veterinary or IACUC-approved exceptions).  Specific watering systems are not required, but water must be present in bowls, receptacles or lixit faucets, with no visible contamination.

While veterinary care has always been required, such care and oversight are now more prescribed.  As described in Tech Note, “Questions and Answers: Access to Potable Water for Dogs and Cats,” facilities that breed or house dogs, requirements include:

For facilities with dogs, written formal arrangements must be made and signed by the Attending Veterinarian that includes the following; regularly scheduled annual visits, complete physical annual exams of each dog by the Attending Veterinarian, a schedule for vaccinations for contagious and/or deadly diseases of dogs (including rabies, parvovirus and distemper), a schedule for sampling and treatment of parasites and other pests (including fleas, worms, coccidia, giardia, and heartworm), and preventative care and treatment for healthy hair coats, nails, eyes, ears, skin, and teeth. Lastly, the written program of veterinary care must address the requirements for adequate veterinary care for every dealer and exhibitor in § 2.40 of this subchapter and every research facility in § 2.33 of this subchapter. A signed copy of the written program of veterinary care should be kept at the licensed or registered facility.

All licensees and registrants subject to AWA-related USDA inspections should review the “Standard Operating Procedures for Resuming Facility Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” issued on July 20, 2020.

 

For anyone concerned about protecting the privacy of their facility, be prepared to provide the inspector with “a clean and safe space (i.e., recently sanitized, able to maintain 6ft distance from others)” where the inspector can review hard-copy records and upon completion of the inspection report, return those records.

The alternatives described in the SOP in which records are provided to the inspector through online access or thumb drives that are viewed on the inspector’s laptop, should be carefully considered in light of the potential for those documents to be requested through open public records laws.

Inspections will be conducted using a tiered approach starting with facilities subject to high frequency inspections and new license applicants.

If an inspection cannot be conducted or completed because of COVID-19 related concerns, the report is supposed to record such concerns.  It is not clear how that information will be construed by activists opposed to the ownership and use of animals in those facilities.

Naturally, the health and safety of people and animals at the facility and of the inspectors is of paramount importance.