Though the government shutdown remains unpopular with many Americans, pet breeders around the country have greeted the news with a sigh of relief. For once in their recent history, they can operate their businesses without the perpetual harassment of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a government agency that frequently collaborates with extreme animal rights activists to make it more difficult to raise and own animals in this country. Upon the re-opening of the USDA, pet breeders will be subject to a new rule from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which would broadly expand their ability to regulate small businesses. Under the new rule, any pet breeder who sells even one of their animals over the internet, phone, or mail will now be subjected to the onerous licensing and inspection requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Under current law, retail pet stores and small hobby breeders are not required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. The proposed APHIS rule would strip this exemption from any breeder who uses the internet, phone, or mail to sell their pets, as many have chosen to do in the modern economy. During a conference call unveiling the rule, APHIS clarified that if a breeder sells even one animal in a location other than where the animal was bred, that breeder would then be subject to the AWA. They refer to this change as “closing a loophole.” In actuality, it is a vast expansion of the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal government.