USDA Issues Amendments to Animal Welfare Act Licensing Regulations

by John M. Simpson.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published final amendments to the regulations governing the licensing of animal dealers, exhibitors and operators of auction sales under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.

Among the more notable features of the amendments to the licensing regulations are the following:

♦  Existing licensees will no longer be able to renew a license annually by certifying compliance with the AWA. Instead, all licenses will be issued for a period of 3 years, and, at the end of that period, the licensee will have to apply for a new license and demonstrate AWA compliance through a prelicensing inspection by the agency.

♦  A new license will also be required before the licensee can change the number of authorized animals on hand during the licensure period or before using animals beyond those types or numbers authorized by the existing license.

♦  When demonstrating compliance for a new license, the applicant has three tries to correct the deficiencies found in the inspection.

♦  An applicant can appeal the third prelicense inspection and, if the applicant requests expedited consideration, the existing license will remain in effect until the ALJ issues an initial decision.

♦  An applicant whose application is denied can request an appeal during which the denial shall remain in effect. If the denial is upheld, the applicant may reapply a year from the date of the order denying the application.

♦  A licensee whose license has expired may obtain a temporary license that is good for 120 days but only if the licensee had no noncompliances in the period of licensure.

♦  APHIS will shift to a flat licensing fee of $120 every three years as opposed to the current requirement of annual fees that range from $40 to $760 per year.

APHIS also amended the regulations as to dogs:

♦  Live imported dogs intended for resale for research or for resale following veterinary treatment must have a permit and accompanying certification.

♦  All dogs are to have 24-hour access to potable water except during transport or except as directed by a veterinarian.

♦  The regulations are expanded to require dealers and exhibitors of dogs to establish and maintain an adequate plan for veterinary care. A veterinarian must visit the facility once every 12 months and must do an annual hands-on, head-to-tail physical of each dog.

♦  Veterinary records may be maintained on the group of dogs instead of for each individual dog.

The amended regulations are effective November 9, 2020.