HB 688, introduced on January 3, 2019, would

I. Makes changes to the definition of pet vendor and defines hobby breeder.

II. Establishes the companion animal welfare division in the department of agriculture, markets, and food.

III.  Establishes the animal transfer database in the department of agriculture, markets, and food.

IV. Creates a license for animal shelters and modifies the license for pet vendors.

V. Allows hobby breeders to register with the department of agriculture, markets, and food.

The bill would “REQUIRE” not “ALLOW” hobby breeders to register with the department, despite the language in the summary described above.

A “hobby breeder” means “A person who transfers animals for a fee and transfers 30 or fewer animals in a year.”  Notably, the term “animals” is not limited to dogs, cats, or other animals commonly owned as pets.

At least some of the requirements for “hobby breeders” appear to be draconian and overly burdensome.  See, e.g., inspection and record keeping requirements:

A hobby breeder registered under this subdivision shall:

I. Maintain in a clean and sanitary condition all premises, buildings, and other enclosures used in the business of dealing in live animals customarily used as household pets.

II. Submit premises, buildings, and other enclosures to scheduled inspections by department employees or local animal control, law enforcement, or health officials at reasonable times.

III.  Maintain, subject to inspection by the commissioner, his or her agent, local officials, law enforcement, or any member of the public, a proper record in which all live animals customarily used as household pets obtained or transferred shall be listed, including the breed, date the animal was obtained and transferred, and from whom the animal or bird was obtained and to whom the animal was transferred.  Such record shall also show the microchip, leg band, or tattoo number of each animal or bird, where applicable.  Animals that do not bear such identification shall be identified by recording markings, a physical description and any other information as the commissioner deems necessary to identify such animals.

IV. Keep records of all animals intended for transfer indicating identification, point of origin, and recipient, and shall submit said records to the commissioner upon request.

V. Provide a health certificate in accordance with RSA 437:10-d to the transferee.

VI. Shall not transfer animals to pet vendors.

VII.  Comply with such other rules as the commissioner may adopt to control disease.

The Fiscal Note, submitted with the bill as introduced, describes the expenditures required by New Hampshire related to the establishment of the Companion Animal Welfare Division within the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods, excluding expenses pertaining to operating the office which will house the new Division.  A wopping $3,896,000 are the estimated expenditures from 2020-2023.  The program is not expected to be operational until 2022.

The projected number, type and cost of new positions needed for the new Division includes:

Position Number of Positions FY 2022 Salary and Benefit Costs FY 2023 Salary and Benefit Costs

Inspectors

(LG 18, Step 1)

8

 

$544,000 $560,000

Administrative Secretary

(LG 14, Step 1)

2 $122,000 $128,000

Administrator II

(LG 29, Step 1)

1 $94,000 $99,000

Technical Support Specialist VI

(LG 32, Step 1)

1 $104,000 $109,000

Veterinarian

(LG EE, Step 1)

1 $101,000 $107,000

Attorney III

(LG 30, Step 5)

1

 

$111,000 $113,000
Hearing Officer Contractor 0.5 $37,000 $37,000
Total  14.5  $1,224,000 $1,266.000

 

The new Division has been purportedly modeled after the Animal Welfare Program in Maine.

However, there appear to be striking differences between the laws in Maine and those proposed in HB 688.  For example,  NH would require licensure of anyone who transfers as few as one animal for a fee.  In Maine, “a person may not advertise for sale, sell or exchange for value more than one cat or dog under the age of 6 months in a 12-month period unless that person has a valid animal shelter, kennel, breeding kennel or pet shop license or a valid vendor’s license issued under this section.”  MRS §4163 (emphasis added).

Maine also exempts hobby dog breeders from licensure as a kennel if they sell or exchange one litter of puppies within a 12-month period.  MRS §3907 (17).

While HB 688 would help the state regulate the transfer of animals through animal rescue organizations, it’s required licensure of all hobby breeders appears to be overreaching and likely not necessary to obtain the laudible goals of “put[ting] the humane treatment of animals on par with the existing mission priorities of the Department . . .”

Edgy Animal Welfare

16 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018

Richard L. Cupp

Pepperdine University School of Law

Date Written: July 18, 2018

Abstract

Legal animal welfare proponents should not reject out-of-hand reforms that may be celebrated by some as steps toward a radical version of animal rights. Rather, animal welfare proponents should consider the costs, risks, and benefits of all potential reforms. Some potential reforms’ risks and costs outweigh their benefits. But, both to improve animals’ welfare and to avoid irrelevance in an evolving society, legal animal welfare advocates should be willing to tolerate some costs and risks. Walking on the edge of slippery slopes is in some situations better than avoiding the slopes altogether. Connecticut’s 2016 animal advocacy statute provides an illustration of legal reform that legal animal welfare proponents should embrace even though it presents some risks of being perceived as a step toward a radical legal personhood rights paradigm.

Cupp, Richard L., Edgy Animal Welfare (July 18, 2018). Denver Law Review (Forthcoming); Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018/11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3216112

NOTE:  Law review articles available for free download at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=543387

 

In Naruto v. Slater, 2018 WL 1902414 (9th Cir. April 23, 2018)-the case in which Naruto, a crested macaque by and through his alleged “next friends,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sued a photographer and his publishers for copyright infringement-the Court, citing an earlier case, Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169, 1175 (9th Cir. 2004) stated that at least part of the requirements for standing-the existence of a case or controversy-was not impossible simply because the plaintiffs were animals.

While in both cases, the Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiffs did not have standing under the relevant statutes-in-suit, the fact that animals may have standing has been disputed by some and seems inconsistent with this court’s reasoning.

In Cetacean Cmty. the Court stated “we see no reason why Article III prevents Congress from authorizing a suit in the name of an animal, any more than it prevents suits brought in the name of artificial persons such as corporations, partnerships or trusts, and even ships, or of juridically incompetent persons such as infants, juveniles, and mental incompetents.”  Cetacean Cmty., 386 F.3d at 1176.

But what the courts seem to overlook is that Article III is one of several articles to the Constitution of the United States which begins:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.  (Emphasis added).

I find Circuit Judge Smith’s concurring opinion in Naruto v. Slater, explaining the restrictions on “next friend” or “third party” standing, instructive.

The limitations on the ‘next friend’ doctrine are driven by the recognition that ‘it was not intended that the writ of habeas corpus should be availed of, as matter of course, by intruders or uninvited meddlers, styling themselves as next friends.’

NOTE-isn’t this essentially what the Nonhuman rights project has done in its various, non-winning petitions for writs of habeas corpus.

And Judge Smith added:

Indeed, if there were no restrictions on ‘next friend’ standing in federal courts, the litigant asserting only a generalized interest in constitutional governance could circumvent the jurisdictional limits of Art. III simply by assuming the mantle of ‘next friend.’

Judge Smith disagreed with the majority finding that lack of next friend standing removes jurisdiction of the court, while the majority held that next-friend standing is nonjurisdictional.

Both Judge Smith and the majority agreed that “animals cannot be represented by a next friend.”

And Judge Smith explains that “[t]here is no textual support in either the habeas corpus statute or Rule 17 for animal next friends,” providing additional legal support for courts’ rejections of the Nonhuman Rights Projects’ petitions that claimed that animals were legal persons.

However, because of these holdings over standing via Article III’s case and controversy provision by the 9th Circuit we expect to see more cases brought under the guise of the next friend.

Of note, in Oregon, a lawsuit was filed by a horse (Justice) “by and through his Guardian, Kim Mosiman” against his former owner, who had already pleaded guilty to neglect of the horse.  The suit includes a single claim for relief of negligence, allegedly based on Justice’s owner’s requirement to comply with Oregon’s anti-cruelty statute, which the owner had previously pleaded guilty to.  Justice requests relief for economic damages of not less than $100,000, non-economic damages in an amount to be determined at trial, reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs and disbursements, and other relief the court deems proper.

We should expect similar lawsuits to be filed in many jurisdictions.

 

On May 17, 2018 a plethora bills were reported out of the New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, some with amendments that will benefit animals and their owners if they become law, and others with sorely needed amendments.

Here is a summary of what occurred (as reported on the New Jersey Legislative website):

A781 is a bill that would establish processes for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty violations.  This bill was reported favorably with some amendments, but more should be adopted before further action.

This bill, as amended, provides for the cost of care for animals involved in animal cruelty violations, and establishes a procedure, when the owner of the animal is the alleged violator, for the owner of the animal to pay for the cost of care of the animal. The bill, as amended, specifies that ‘animal’ includes the whole brute creation, but does not include agricultural livestock or domestic livestock.

This amendment protects farmers from the overreaching practices of law enforcement supported by animal activist groups that assist in seizures of animals before the owner(s) has a hearing or opportunity to prove they have not committed alleged acts of animal cruelty.

The groups that house the seized animals charge owners millions of dollars for the “care” of these animals, even though, in some instances, they do not have adequate, if any, training in providing such care. The seized animals suffer from negligent care and sometimes die.  Many animal owners, particularly farmers, would be unable to pay for such costs and therefore forfeit ownership-all before they are actually found guilty of anything.

A1334 is a bill which would add the theft or release of an animal during burglary to the ever-expanding list of provisions that constitute animal cruelty. This amendment is not necessary and makes the cruelty statute even more cumbersome than it currently is.   If someone steals an animal that constitutes theft, for which there are existing legal remedies.  If the thief does not properly care for the animal while in their possession, then the cruelty statute already provides for remedies.  If an animal is released during a burglary and is injured there are also existing provisions in the law that would apply.

A1923, a.k.a. Nosey’s law, was amended before it was reported out of committee, but still requires amendments.  The original intent of this bill was to ban the exhibition of elephants in circuses and traveling zoos.  The amendments to the current version (which is much better than prior versions) largely address concerns of those who humanely exhibit exotic animals.  However, a glaring error remains. The bill defines “[w]ild or exotic animal” as any live animal that is classified into any of the following scientific classifications: (1) Artiodactyla, excluding domestic cattle, bison, water buffalo, yak, zebu, gayal, bali cattle, suidae, sheep, goats, llamas, vicunas, or alpacas; (2) Camelidae . . .”

This effectively excludes llama, vicunas and alpacas from the definition of wild or exotic animals on the one hand, but then includes them since they are members of the Camelidae family.

Additional amendments are clearly required.

A2318 , a bill that would permit any person to break into a vehicle to “rescue” an animal, if they believed that an animal was in danger, was also reported out of committee.  The bill should require any animal so “rescued” to be immediately examined by a licensed veterinarian.  If the rescuer has a good faith belief that the animal is in need of help, then examination by a veterinarian should be mandated.  The owner should pay for that examination if the veterinarian determines the animal’s health was in jeopardy, but if not, the rescuer should have to pay for the veterinary examination.  Adding those provisions may help decrease unnecessary rescues.

Another issue with this bill is that the wording “other circumstances likely to endanger or cause bodily injury or death to the animal” is vague and essentially meaningless.

A3218, a bill that “permits municipalities to contract with animal and humane societies which engage in animal foster care,” was also reported out of committee.  This bill would expose animals and people to unnecessary harm because animal foster care organizations are not regulated in New Jersey.

Finally, A4385, a bill that would require “institutions of higher education, and related research facilities, to offer cats and dogs no longer used for educational, research, or scientific purposes to animal rescue organizations for adoption prior to euthanizing the animals,” was also voted out of committee.  Not only is this bill unnecessary since successful adoption programs from these institutions have been in existence for years, reliance on unregulated animal rescue operations, as above, places animals and people at risk.

The unfortunate and misguided bans of sales of professionally and purposely-bred dogs throughout the United States (which as previously described violates the constitutional rights of many and exposes people and pets to a host of infectious, sometimes deadly diseases), reveals a dearth of objective and science-based research about the welfare of dogs (and puppies) historically provided to the public from breeders through pet stores compared with the welfare of these pets sold (aka adopted) through rescue and shelter channels.

Fortunately, through the work conducted at universities, including, for example, Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science (“CAWS”), and Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, peer-reviewed, science-based research is underway and the results published.

At Purdue’s CAWS, researchers “facilitate the well-being of animals using sound science and ethics to investigate and promote the best animal care and management practices.”

Dr. Candace Croney and her research group, study the “Welfare of Breeding Dogs.”

The welfare of dogs housed in commercial breeding facilities is of great public concern.  However, little research has been performed to examine the welfare status of the dogs on-site at kennels, characterize the nature and extent of welfare problems experienced, and explore solutions. We are developing tools to evaluate the behavioral and physical welfare of commercial breeding dogs and create practical recommendations to improve their lives and those of their puppies.

In addition to studying techniques and practices used by dog breeders, the group also studies the multi-factorial issues involved when people chose to adopt or purchase a new dog.  Researchers conclude, as reported in “Factors that impact dog selection and welfare:”

Dogs are not selected based on a single factor. While animal shelters and rescue organizations work hard to encourage the adoption of the dogs under their care, they may not be able to meet the demand for purebred dogs. This demand creates the need for a solution that balances consumer freedom of choice as to where (and how) to obtain a dog with ethical concerns about procuring dogs from sources where animal welfare is not adequately protected.

Notably, the paper also identifies the fact that, regardless of the source, pets can experience varying levels of welfare.  Increasingly, as shelters are pressured into decreasing numbers of animals euthanized (a laudable goal, when properly implemented), shelter residents are moved from shelter to shelter or rescue or even adopted out, even when behavioral and/or medical abnormalities exist.

A study recently conducted at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine attempted to take a sharp, science-based look at brick and mortar shelter populations in the United States.

One of the authors (Kimberly Woodruff) noted:

For many years, people have quoted numbers of animals going in and out of shelters, but there’s never really been any research behind them . . .Even beyond that, nobody really knows how many shelters are in the United States. There’s no official registry for shelters and no group providing oversight. Shelters can be anything from a few kennels to a huge facility that adopts out thousands of animals a year.

As previously discussed, the National Animal Interest Alliance has been tracking the movement of dogs and cats into and out of shelters, using data obtained from government agencies, and reporting this information on the NAIA Shelter Project.

Both the MSU research and the Shelter Project are hampered by the unreported movement of pets through rescue organizations, which are often completely unregulated, are not required to register or obtain a license to function, and do not report animal movement to any agency.  Some states have adopted laws governing these entities, including those in the Northeast, like Connecticut and Rhode Island, where so many transplanted pets are relocated.

As the MSU study discussed, concerns about the spread of diseases and pests through adoption networks must be addressed:

‘For example, there are a lot of dogs moving out of the Southeast and into other regions,’ [researcher] Smith said. ‘Well, this is a highly endemic heartworm disease area, we possibly could be transporting heartworms across the country. That means we need to do due diligence to control that disease. We may need to ask those shelters about how they’re addressing heartworm disease and other regional diseases.’

Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) “supports research involving animals when it is necessary to advance our understanding of biological processes.” and provides tools for “public outreach that builds understanding and appreciation for necessary and humane animal research.”

The latest tool in their toolbox is a video “designed to be a conversation starter about the importance of animals in research and the high standards of care they receive,” titled “Love, Care, Progress,” which you can view here.

The videp features

[r]esearch professionals, including a trainer, scientist, animal behaviorist, surgical manager, and veterinarian talk about caring for the animals in their charge, and their pride in the progress made possible in studies with these animals. Several dogs can be seen enjoying their time with technicians in a facility playroom.

Other associations that support animal research, including the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), also explain why “Animal Lovers Should Support Animal Research, Not Condemn It” as NABR President Matt Bailey explained on FoxNews :

Every year, 12 million cats and dogs in the United States are diagnosed with cancer. For their owners, that diagnosis is both emotionally and financially devastating. The initial cancer diagnosis alone can cost $2,000. Subsequent chemotherapy and radiation can run up to $10,000.

Fortunately, scientists are on the cusp of discovering treatments that could help pets with cancer at a much lower cost – if we let them continue the animal medical research needed to make those discoveries. But all over the country, self-professed animal lovers are lobbying for limits on – or even an end to – medical research involving animals.

That’s counterproductive, because animals are among the primary beneficiaries of such research. Consequently, animal lovers should be among the biggest supporters of animal medical research.

Matt goes on to describe how research has saved the lives of animals and humans.

While the use of animals in research remains critically important, efforts have long been employed to reduce, replace, and refine that use when possible.  In some states, like New Jersey, if there is an appropriate alternative testing method that can replace traditional animal testing methods, it must be employed “[w]hen conducting any product testing in the State . . .[but this does not] apply to any animal test conducted for the purposes of medical research.”  N.J.S.A. 4:22-59(a).  If animal testing is required to comply with other state or federal laws to ensure the health or safety of consumers, the requirement does not apply.

In time, we may be smart enough to develop reliable simulators and other tools that can replicate animal models, but until that time, researchers will continue to treat animals in their care humanely, while they work to save lives.

 

Reports from two animal-related trade organizations provide insight into the current status and goals of animal rights organizations intent on eliminating the use of animals by humans, without regard to how humanely those animals are treated.

Based on these revealing comments from activists it remains vitally important that the public is exposed to the differences between animal rights activists and animal-related industries whose goals are to ensure that animals under the care of humans are treated humanely.

Members of the National Association for Biomedical Research and the Animal Agricultural Alliance attended the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference held on August 3-6 in Alexandria Virginia.

As advertised on the website

The Animal Rights National Conferences have been organized since 1981 by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) with some breaks between 1987 and 2000, then every year since 2000. They are typically co-sponsored by more than a dozen national organizations.

Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) is a national non-profit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism. We believe in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.

Speakers at the conference talked about the “Power of confrontation in advancing animal rights,” and alleged abuses of animals used for all human purposes including: animals in Entertainment (circuses, rodeos, zoos, aquariums), animals in science (education, product testing, drug research),animals in Fashion, Companion animals, food Animals, and animals in the wild.

Kay Johnson Smith, Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO described this year’s conference:

The speakers at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference made their goals clear – ending all forms of animal agriculture, regardless of how well animals are cared for . . . Their persistent focus on pressure campaigns targeting restaurant, retail and foodservice brands is of great concern to the Alliance and our members. We encourage anyone with a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, to read this year’s report and hear how determined these groups are to eliminate food choices and make our society vegan.

The alliance reported that speaker encouraged attendees to protest and conduct rescues from farms without permission, and that “[b]reaking the law can often be a good thing to do.”

The Alliance also reported that one speaker, David Coman-Hidy with the Humane League encouraged attendees to damage the reputation of food companies.

Consistent with previous years, another key message from conference speakers was for attendees to focus efforts on eliminating farms of all types and sizes, not only the large-scale, modern operations (declared to be “factory farms”) that have historically been targeted.

National Association for Biomedical Research reported about the following speakers and their comments at the conference, intent on eliminating the use of animals in research:

  • Justin Goodman, lobbyist for the White Coat Waste project (WCW), an animal rights group that promotes itself as a fiscally conservative consumer watchdog group, spoke about WCW’s “defund” campaign to “take money away so [research institutions] can’t buy the animals to do the testing.” He continued to focus on making sure universities and other institutions that conduct animal research “don’t get their money.” 

  • Michael Budkie explained [Stop Animal Exploitation Now] SAEN seeks to end animal research by “hanging them with their own paperwork.” We understand this to mean the group attacks the reputations of research institutions and individual scientists by deliberately misusing or mischaracterizing written statements provided by the institutions to government agencies like the NIH and the USDA.

  • Speaking again on behalf of SAEN, Michael Budkie explained his approach to stopping animal research by targeting researchers: “We like to paint them as idiots. They are criminals. SAEN’s job is to let people know animal research is meritless. We will ruin their reputation and credibility. We are coming after them…It becomes news and we’re changing public opinion of what labs do.”

  • A celebrated figure in the animal rights world, Richard Couto conducts undercover investigations of factory farms and food enterprises that use animals. He gains access by working as an employee while filming and documenting abuse for later use in criminal prosecutions of his erstwhile employers. Joined by other so-called “undercover investigators,” they encouraged attendees to join their ranks by stating, “anybody in this room has what it takes to be an undercover investigator.”

Clearly, the goals of animal rights organizations, on display at this conference, should concern those who are involved in animal-related industries where animals are owned and cared for by humans.

I recently reconnected with colleagues at the annual meeting of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture in Columbus, Ohio on April 6, 2017 where a special session was held, titled “Animal Care Standards: How Laws, Commitments, & Public Perception Have Changed the Landscape.”

A special shout out to the attending former and current State Veterinarians, including Dr. Glauer-State Veterinarian Ohio (ret.), and Dr. Tony Forshey-State Veterinarian Ohio.  State Veterinarians are a state animal health officials charged with protecting the health and well-being of animals in their state.  I served as the New Jersey State Veterinarian for nearly a decade.

Also attending were presenters, including: (1) Dr. Janet Helms, National Director of American Humane; (2) Chelsea Good, J.D., VP government and industry affairs, Livestock Marketing Association; (3) Candace Croney, Ph.D., Director, Center for Animal Welfare Science, Associate Professor, animal Behavior and Wellbeing, Purdue University; (4) Judge Linda Chezem, Indiana Court of Appeals (ret.) and others representing retail, private and public organizations.

One topic discussed was how governmental and private animal care standards of care benefit animals and consumers.  There is some concern that consumers, unfamiliar with the different certifying standards available, may be confused by labeling at the point of sale.  This is compounded by the fact that most consumers are unfamiliar with animal agriculture―fewer than 2% of the US population is directly involved with animal agriculture facilities that provide food and fiber to the rest of the US population and much of the rest of the world.

One of the longest standing third-party certification program, American Humane Certified™, was established by American Humane.  This nonprofit was “f]ounded in 1877 . . . [and] is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals.”

As described on its website “The American Humane Certified™ program is a voluntary third party animal welfare audit program that is rapidly setting the standards for the way that food animals are raised in the U.S.

The American Humane Certified™ Animal Welfare Standards are species-specific and grounded on solid scientific research. The standards were created with input from renowned animal science experts and veterinarians and are frequently reviewed by our Scientific Advisory Committee to reflect current research, technological advances, best practices, and humane handling methods. Our Animal Welfare Standards were built upon the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, which require that an animal be healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express normal behavior, and free from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. American Humane Certified producers are audited for their compliance to the standards.”

There are numerous private and publicly available standards of care for livestock and poultry, but American Humane’s emphasis on obtainable, scientifically-sound practices and its commitment to partnering with livestock producers to provide consumers with safe, healthy, and humanely raised animals sets it apart from many others.

The challenge for livestock producers is to make sure that consumers can rely on labeling or standard certifications to insure that the animals raised are treated humanely and that the food produced is healthy and safe.

I had the opportunity to present an “Animal Law Update” on October 21, 2016 at the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research’s 23rd Annual IACUC Conference – the region’s premier training conference for professionals in laboratory animal research field.  Among this year’s 110 participants were key institution decision makers, Animal Care and Use Committee members, lab animal veterinarians, animal welfare compliance specialists and other lab animal research team members from the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, academic research institutions, and government officials from USDA and NIH.

 

During my presentation I discussed the legal issues affecting animal-related industries, including the biomedical research community and analyzed activist activities that can help the research community predict, prepare for, and defend against such challenges.   I was also re-elected to the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research during the annual meeting, held at the beginning of this conference.

 

Dr. William Stokes, Assistant Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care provided an informative USDA Regulatory Update and Insights.  Dr. Stokes shared USDA Animal Care’s “5-year Strategic Plan” including the mission and vision of the agency, also available on its website:

New to the agency is the introduction of the term “critical noncompliant items” (“NCI’s) which includes all “direct noncompliant items” and certain “indirect noncompliant items.”  Dr. Stokes explained that this term was not really new, and had been used in practical effect, by the agency for a long time.

Dr. Stokes also provided important data from USDA’s inspections authorized by the Animal Welfare Act including:

  • There were over 10,000 unannounced inspections in FY16 of research facilities, breeders, dealers, exhibitors, transporters and intermediate handlers;
  • There were about 1350 inspections of the 1050 registered research facilities;
  • 76% of these inspections had no NCI’s;
  • Of the 561 NCI’s in research facilities, 38% of those were related to activities and conduct of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, and specifically related to the semi-annual reports that are required by the AWA.

Dr. Stokes  informed the attendees about the updated public search engine that serves as the database for USDA licensees and related inspection reports, known as the Animal Care Information System (ACIS3).  USDA  sent a bulletin on  09/22/2016 to stakeholders titled “New Terms Will Appear on USDA Inspection Reports.” As Dr. Stokes explained, there are two new terms that will appear on reports and in search results:

  • Focused inspections
  • Critical noncompliant items.

Dr. Stokes ended his presentation reminding all attendees that the goal of USDA and its licensees is to “optimize welfare.”

 

 

The Animal Welfare Act was amended by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide “the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to determine that animal dealers and exhibitors are not required to obtain a license under the Act  . . . if the size of the business conducting AWA-related activities is determined to be de minimis by the Secretary.”

USDA has proposed regulations that define de minimis and “has determined that de minimis businesses  . . .  are capable of providing adequate care and treatment of the animals involved in regulated business activities.”

USDA proposes that :

“[d]ealers and exhibitors operating at or below the thresholds determined for their particular AWA-related business activity would be exempted from Federal licensing requirements established under the Act and regulations. Our proposed actions would amend the regulations to be consistent with the Act while continuing to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals covered under the AWA.”

USDA performed a “Regulatory Impact & Analysis Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” regarding its proposed regulations, finding that:

“this proposed rule would relieve regulatory responsibilities for some currently licensed entities and reduce the cost of business for those entities [and] [t]hose currently licensed exhibitors and dealers . . . would no longer be subject to licensing, animal identification, and recordkeeping requirements.”

USDA’s summarized the economic impact of its rule:

“The cost of a license for the smallest entities is between $40 and $85 annually. Identification tags for dogs and cats cost from $1.12 to $2.50 each. Other covered animals can be identified by a label attached to the primary enclosure containing a description of the animals in the enclosure at negligible cost.  We estimate that the average currently licensed entity potentially affected by this proposal spends about 10 hours annually to comply with the licensing paperwork and recordkeeping requirements.  All of the currently licensed entities that would be considered de minimis under this proposal would benefit from reduced costs for licensing, identification and recordkeeping. “

“We estimate that there may be as many as 212 currently licensed exhibitors who would no longer need to be licensed under the proposed rule. There are 133 currently licensed exhibitors with 4 or fewer animals that would therefore be considered de minimis under this proposal.  There are also 79 currently licensed exhibitors with 5 to 8 animals.  At least some of the licensees in this latter group exhibit any or all of their animals for no more than 30 days per calendar year, and would therefore be considered de minimis as seasonal exhibitors under this proposal.  We estimate that the cost savings for all these entities could total about $41,400 annually.”

Comments to USDA’s regulation will be accepted until November 2, 2016.