The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on proposed updates to its Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensing requirements. 

In 2017, USDA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that asked the public for input on potential revisions to the AWA regulations to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure sustained compliance. After carefully considering the more than 47,000 comments it received in response, USDA is proposing to amend our licensing requirements to eliminate automatic renewals.  With this change, licensees would have to demonstrate compliance with the AWA and show that the animals in their possession are adequately cared for in order to obtain a license. These proposed changes would also strengthen existing regulations to prevent individuals and businesses whose licenses were suspended or revoked from working for regulated entities. 

For licensees who are fully compliant, we want the regulatory processes to impose the least burden possible, so we are also taking steps to streamline the licensing process by reducing licensing fees and simplifying the payment and collection process.


Finally, this proposed rule includes additional updates to the regulations for dogs – requiring any dealer, exhibitor, or research facility with dogs to maintain a written program for veterinary care and medical records and to make those records available to USDA upon request. The written program of veterinary care would have to include regular visits by the attending veterinarian to conduct a complete physical examination of each dog not less than once a year, vaccinations for contagious and deadly diseases of dogs, and preventative care and treatment for hair coats, nails, eyes, ears, skin, and teeth.  In addition, the proposed rule would require that dogs have continual access to potable water unless restricted by an attending veterinarian. 

USDA encourages members of the public and the regulated community to provide feedback on these proposed changes. APHIS will carefully consider all comments received within 60 days. This proposed rule may be viewed on display at:  Beginning tomorrow, members of the public may submit comments at!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0062 or in writing to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. 

Each year, USDA licenses nearly 6,000, persons who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes, and is responsible for ensuring that these licensees comply with the AWA’s humane standards of care. These steps allow the American public to confidently purchase pets and view animals on public display.