The Animal and Plant Inspection Health Service (APHIS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture sub-agency charged with administering and enforcing the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) , 7 U.S.C. § 2131, et seq. In connection with its “Strategic Plan” for 2023-27, APHIS issued a Strategic Foresight Report that “examines 10 societal, environmental, and technological trends that the Agency must be prepared to navigate. ” One such trend is “[e]volving perceptions around animal welfare and wildlife in human society.” Continue reading “APHIS Predicts Farm Animals Could Ultimately Be Subject to AWA Regulation”
by Michelle C. Pardo
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline for submitting comments to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on standards for handling captive wild and exotic and animals and changes to environmental enrichment requirements for all regulated species.
Stakeholders will now have until April 10, 2023 to submit comments.
The ANPR is available to view and comment at https://www.regulations.gov/document/APHIS-2022-0022-0001.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has requested comments in three particular areas:
- Public handling of wild and exotic animals at licensed exhibitor facilities;
- Training of personnel who handle wild and exotic animals at licensed facilities; and
- Changes to regulated animals’ environments to promote their psychological well-being.
Participating in the comment process is essential for regulated stakeholders, as agencies must consider all “relevant matters presented” and respond in some form to comments received in formulating their rules. If opposition is exceptionally voluminous or strident, an agency may decide to publish a new notice and/or establish a new comment period.
All perspectives are helpful, but keep in mind the following:
DO attempt to respond to the questions asked by the agency. Additional material may be appropriate to include, but try to at least provide the agency with guidance on the requested topics.
DO highlight the financial ramifications to your facility with any significant additions or changes to the regulations. For example, would increased regulations demanding a certain type of training program or experience erect an impractical barrier to staffing? Are certain formal training programs less effective than apprenticeships or on-the-job training? Would such regulations practically require “form” over “substance”?
DO provide comments on whether more particularized regulations on animal enrichment would unnecessarily limit an exhibitor’s ability to provide effective enrichment to their animal populations. Would regulations diminish the ability to be innovative about the nature and type of enrichment? Would they lag behind science and research and therefore create worse, and not better, animal welfare circumstances?
DO describe in detail any unintended, negative effects that further regulation can produce, either to the well-being of particular species or a licensed facility’s ability to practically care for its animals.
DO include “myth-busting” in your comments that call out speculative and philosophical-driven theories of animal welfare and pseudo-science that are not backed by science and research. Include peer-reviewed research or other resources that supports your comments or successful anecdotal cases that are relevant to the issues.
Most importantly, do not assume that another exhibitor will represent your particular interests. Participate and influence regulations that affect your businesses and organizations.
On January 6, 2023, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comments as to potential amendments to Animal Welfare Act regulations governing exhibitors. The ANPR solicits public comments on APHIS’ “plan to strengthen regulations regarding the handling of wild and exotic animals for exhibition, as well as the training of personnel involved in the handling of wild and exotic animals, and to establish standards addressing environmental enrichment for all regulated animals.”
On September 6, 2022, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its “dashboard” that tracks confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States. The data continues to show that the incidence of the COVID-19 virus in animals is quite low. Continue reading “APHIS Updates Data on SARS-CoV-2 in Animals”
While the overwhelming focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the effect that the virus has had on humankind, there have been documented cases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus infecting animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) tracks the incidence of the the virus in animals in the U.S. That analysis continues to show that infection in animals is quite small. Continue reading “COVID-19 In Animals Continues To Be Minor Issue In U.S.”
By Michelle C. Pardo
Earlier this month, animal rights group The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) filed a lawsuit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for what it alleges to be the agency’s non-enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) as it pertains to commercially bred dogs. ASPCA v. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, et al. (1:21-cv-01600) (D.D.C.). Continue reading “Animal Rights Group Sues USDA Over “Non-Enforcement” of Animal Welfare Act”
Today, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued advance notice that, on June 25, 2021, the agency will publish notice in the Federal Register of its intention to implement regulations, adopted in 2012, that require entities subject to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to have contingency plans for handling animals in the event of possible emergencies or disasters. The rules, which had been prompted by events during the 2005 hurricane season, had been stayed by APHIS since July 31, 2013 based on claims by small entities that these regulatory requirements were excessive. Continue reading “APHIS Dusts Off Animal Handling Contingency Planning Rules”
by John M. Simpson.
On June 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) provided an update to the list of cases of SARS-CoV-2 that have been confirmed by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories. The APHIS chart is reproduced below: Continue reading “USDA Updates Confirmed U.S. Cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals”
by John M. Simpson.
On June 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in a pet dog in New York state. The dog, a German shepherd, had shown signs of respiratory illness and samples were taken and confirmed to be positive for the virus by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories. Continue reading “COVID-19: USDA Confirms First U.S. Case of SARS-CoV-2 in Pet Dog”
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. Continue reading “USDA Issues Amendments to Animal Welfare Act Licensing Regulations”