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Today, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) released a finalized version of new federal regulations that narrow the definition of a “retail pet store” with the purpose of bringing internet-based pet breeders and sellers under the regulation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The rule, originally proposed in May 2012 and essentially unchanged, effectively expands USDA oversight of pet breeders to include people who maintain more than four “breeding females” of any species and sell even one pet “sight unseen”.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) shares the USDA’s concern about unscrupulous and potentially substandard puppy sellers; and encourages responsible puppy buyers to meet the breeders of their new puppy and to work with responsible breeders to understand the commitment, challenges and requirements that a puppy of their chosen breed requires.

The AKC, however, is extremely disappointed that USDA/APHIS, by adopting the rule in the same form it was originally proposed, did not heed the comments of hundreds of thousands of responsible dog breeders and owners concerned with the complexity and ambiguity of this potentially onerous new rule. Specifically, the rule will:

To learn more about our specific concerns with the rule, please visit AKC’s USDA/APHIS Regulations Resources Page.

NEXT STEPS: USDA/APHIS expects the final rule to be published in the Federal Register later this week. The rule will become effective 60 days after publication.

The AKC is dedicated to supporting the wellbeing of all dogs and responsible dog owners and breeders. We are extremely disappointed with the content of the final rule and we will continue to study this rule and assess all options for addressing our ongoing concerns.

The AKC will continue to provide additional information and analysis regarding specific impacts and what this rule may mean to responsible dog owners, breeders and the dog-loving public in general. Please remember that as a matter of company policy, the American Kennel Club does not release the registration information or history of any customer without a court order. The AKC, however, does expect individuals to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the ownership and maintenance of dogs.

For more information and updates, visit AKC GR’s online USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page; or contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service…

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