Legislative Update on PAWS
Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005 S. 1139

December 27, 2005

On November 8, Senator Santorum, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee held a hearing on PAWS. Notwithstanding the tens of thousands of emails, faxes and phone calls sent by bird, cat and dog breeders in opposition to PAWS, no one directly opposing PAWS was allowed to speak. Senator Santorum was the only legislator present during the presentations by the various supporters of PAWS. These supporters included individuals from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Kennel Club (AKC), Doris Day Animal League (DDAL), and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Michael Maddox of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) provided comments questioning some sections of PAWS and in support of other sections.

Michael Maddox, Legislative Director of PIJAC pointed out specific areas where PAWS would have unintended consequences and would work to defeat the directives of the Animal Welfare Act. Mr. Maddox stated that the definition of "dealer" in the AWA exempts non-commercial animal breeders from USDA inspection. PAWS would remove that exemption. Mr. Maddox pointed out that PAWS would incorrectly target pet stores that sold puppies imported by Class B dealers, instead of targeting the Class B dealers only.

Mr. Maddox pointed out that the PAWS "Retail Pet Store" exclusion for "wild animals" would result in extending licensing to the pet stores intended to be exempt! This section of PAWS is the critical area for bird breeders and owners, as it would affect anyone selling even one bird or animal, other than a dog or cat. As Mr. Maddox stated: "Because the term "wild animal" is defined to include any species that lives in the wild, many common, domesticated household pets could fall within that definition."

If Senator Santorum amends the PAWS bill and the language relating to "wild animals" is removed from PAWS, then birds would not be affected by PAWS. However, at this point in time, we do not know whether Senator Santorum will or will not amend PAWS. Contact with his office indicates no changes have been made as of mid-December.

The representatives of AKC, DDAL, HSUS and AVMA who spoke at the hearing gave testimony in support of PAWS. Some of these speakers also characterized the opponents of PAWS as people who don't pay sales taxes or income taxes on profits, and Wayne Pacelle of HSUS even suggested that dog fighters masquerading as legitimate breeders were working to defeat PAWS. Senator Santorum did not allow Cat Fanciers to speak. They are specifically mentioned in the bill and will be severely impacted by PAWS.

There were two full page ads against PAWS in the publication, "Roll Call," read by most legislators in DC. These ads listed many of the organizations opposed to PAWS. One ad was sponsored by the Cat Fanciers, (http://www.cfa.org) and did include the name of the Organization of Professional Aviculturists as opposing PAWS. The other ad was sponsored by Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance (http://saova.org). There was an officially approved demonstration outside the Senate hearing site, organized by Colby Homer of West Virginia, where flyers were passed out to the public and interviews given to the press in regards to PAWS.

At this time there is no assurance of amendments or changes to PAWS. Opposition to this bill continues and will continue until the bill is defeated or amended reasonably.

L. Desborough


PAWS ALERT...The Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005...PAWS ALERT

EVERY BIRD BREEDER WHO SELLS ANY BIRD TO A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC AS A PET WILL BE COVERED UNDER PAWS AND WILL BE SUBJECT TO USDA INSPECTION, HOUSING, CARE, RECORD KEEPING, AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS !!

EVERY BIRD RESCUER WHO PLACES A BIRD IN A NEW HOME AND WHO ACCEPTS ANY COMPENSATION WILL ALSO BE COVERED UNDER PAWS AND WILL BE SUBJECT TO USDA INSPECTION, HOUSING, CARE, RECORD KEEPING, AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS!!

PAWS, SB1139 and HB2669, is written so that it appears that it is specifically meant to focus only on dogs and cats. PAWS was introduced to Congress on May 26, 2005 by Senator Santorum and co-sponsored by Senator Durbin. However, the result of this poorly crafted legislation is that all warm blooded animals which are now covered by the Animal Welfare Act are also covered by PAWS: birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc.

Under the current Animal Welfare Act (AWA), "dealers" are regulated. In the current AWA a "dealer" is defined to include "any person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit, delivers for transportation, or transports, except as a carrier, buys, or sells, or negotiates the purchase or sale of, (1) any dog or other animal whether alive or dead for research, teaching, exhibition, or use as a pet," but does not include "retail pet stores." PAWS does not remove this language from the AWA.

PAWS contains certain specific exclusions from regulation for certain dog and cat breeders and sellers. However, these exclusions in PAWS apply only to dogs and cats. While the PAWS exclusions will allow certain smaller dog and cat breeders and sellers to remain unregulated under the AWA, these exclusions do not exempt any breeders of any other warm blooded animals that are now included in the definition of "animal" under the AWA and that are included under the AWA. Pet stores cannot sell intact animals or "wild" animals or they also fall under the PAWS requirement of USDA inspections and permits.

PAWS completely reverses the original intent of Congress with regard to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and the regulation and inspection of animals "in commerce." When the AWA was first passed in 1966, the original intent of Congress was to regulate large commercial breeding facilities and ensure that the animals in those facilities were treated humanely. The intent was never to regulate small in-home hobby breeders. This Congressional intent has been clear and consistent for over 38 years. Under the existing AWA (without PAWS), "retail pet stores" are exempt from regulation under the AWA. For decades, the Secretary of Agriculture has determined that home-based breeders are "retail pet stores," and as such, are exempt from regulation under the AWA.

The appropriateness and legality of this determination of the Secretary of Agriculture was specifically recognized and upheld by the federal appellate court in the recent case brought by the Doris Day Animal League. In that case, the DDAL sued the USDA to force the USDA to inspect small breeders in private residences who sell directly to the public on the theory that they were not excluded from the AWA as "retail pet stores." The court pointed out that home-based breeders are not completely unregulated, but are in fact subject to direct scrutiny and oversight by their customers, and that there are "many State and local laws and ordinances in place to monitor and respond to allegations of inhumane treatment of and inadequate housing for animals owned by private retail dealers." The court also ruled that "it was also within the authority delegated to him by Congress for the Secretary to decline to amend the definition in light of the potential invasions of privacy that would result if federal inspectors began enforcing cleaning, sanitation, handling, and other regulatory requirements in private homes."

DDAL lost the case and appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by DDAL, and the decision stands that small breeders in private residences are excluded from regulation under the AWA.

The AWA does not now contain a definition of what is a "retail pet store," and over time the Secretary of Agriculture has determined that several types of breeders and sellers are exempt from AWA regulation as retail pet stores, including home-based breeders who sell pets to the public. PAWS seeks to insert a new definition of "retail pet store" into the AWA, and PAWS states that a "retail pet store" does not include (meaning they will be regulated under the AWA):

"(A) a person breeding animals to sell to the public as pets;
(B) a person selling hunting, security, or breeding dogs; or
(C) a person selling wild animals."

PAWS is an effort by DDAL and its associates to nullify that court decision and to nullify the long-standing intent of Congress that home-based breeders should remain unregulated by the AWA.

Although the arguments put forth for PAWS state that the intent is to regulate "puppy mills," it must be noted that all large commercial dog breeding facilities wholesaling animals are already inspected by the USDA. It must also be noted that the language in the PAWS bill speaks specifically to the regulation of in-home breeders and states that exemptions would apply to those who breed six litters or less or sell 25 or less dogs or cats. Since there is no mention made of any other animals being excluded under PAWS, sale of any other "animals" will be regulated under the AWA.

Given the poorly crafted wording of PAWS, it would pose problems for many thousands of dog and cat breeders, small animal breeders and all bird breeders who sell to the public. It is important that we contact our legislators.

RECOMMENDED ACTION

For those with internet access, there is available an internet tool, capwiz, already set up that makes it possible to send a personalized message with one click to the President, your State Senators by name, and all the members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, by name. The bill will be heard soon in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

FIRST, SEND AN EASY EMAIL TO YOUR SENATORS

1) Go to: http://capwiz.com/naiatrust/ to see the boxed "Alert SB1139" and click on "click here" to go to next page.
2) After you read the Alert message, enter your zip code in the box and click on "GO". Next you see a page on which to write.
3) You can click on two or more "Talking Points", then type in your personal message, and press "Send" to send the e-mail.

SECOND, SEND A COPY BY POSTAL MAIL TO YOUR SENATORS
4) Check your e-mailbox, which will contain a copy of your e-mail to your Senators, copy it and paste it into your word processor. Print two copies to each senator and sign them. In the unlikely event you do not receive the e-mail, repeat 1, 2, and 3 above and select the "letter" option.
5) Understand that mail into Washington is delayed by two to four weeks. On the other hand, letters are about 3000 times less plentiful and significantly more effective than e-mail in this regard.
6) Address and mail the first copy.

THIRD, SEND A SECOND COPY BY FAX TO YOUR SENATORS

7) Find your Senator's FAX number at senate.gov and FAX the second copy. FAX transmissions are almost as effective as snail mail. Also send FAX copies to the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee the Honorable Senator Saxby Chambliss. His FAX number is 202-224-0103.
8) Do not

use your employer's e-mail without permission. Go to Kinko's etc. if you don't have a FAX.
9) Phone calls help: Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Chairman: phone: 202-224-3521, Senator Rick Santorum: phone: 202-224-6324, Senator Richard Durbin: 202-224-2152

FOURTH, ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME

10) Find 20 committed and close friends and ask each of them to take these four easy steps.

FINALLY, CHECK THE OPA WEBSITE WEEKLY FOR ALERT UPDATES: www.proaviculture.com

If PAWS is moved out of the Senate Agriculture Committee, we must target other committees.

For USPO mail to the Senate Agriculture Committee, address:
The Honorable Senator Saxby Chambliss
Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Tom Harkin
731 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

For USPO mail to the sponsor and co-sponsor of PAWS, SB1139, address:
Senator Rick Santorum
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Richard Durbin
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Please be sure to place in the heading of your letters/faxes/e-mails your support or opposition to PAWS so that it is immediately clear that you are in favor of or opposed to this proposed legislation. Personal comments are valued because they illustrate how the legislation will affect you and your bird keeping. Always be polite and thank the legislators for their consideration.