AKC Lauds Farm Bill Provisions that Benefit Pet and Public Safety

2018-12-20 | , American Kennel Club

WASHINGTON -- December 20, 2018:  This afternoon at the White House, President Trump signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill (H.R. 2).

The American Kennel Club would like to express its gratitude to President Trump for signing this bill, which includes important priorities regarding animal importation and domestic violence.

Pet Imports: Pet and Public Health.

Provisions in the Farm Bill will require new reporting on the number of dogs imported into the United States each year and health issues related to the imports. 

The bill is significant because in recent years the United States has simultaneously experienced a large increase in the number of dogs imported and a significant increase in diseases consistent with imported pets.

The 2018 Farm Bill represents a first step at addressing public health problems related to the importation of unknown numbers of potentially contagious, unhealthy dogs into the United States. Diseases or parasites with increased incidence include canine flu, screwworm, brucellosis, and a variety of other infectious and zoonotic diseases directly related to irresponsibly imported animals.

A key part of the issue surrounds a lack of checks and reporting on pet animals being imported into the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that animal health certificates required for entry into the U.S. are often invalid or forged

The new law will require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to submit a report to Congress that provides information from the last three years on the total number of dogs imported in the U.S., and a breakdown on the number of dogs imported as personal pets compared to those intended for retail sale of any kind, including shelter/rescue adoptions.  

The law strengthens the coordination efforts between the Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to collect, compile, and disseminate this data to Congress in order to better understand the public health implications of importing dogs into the United States.

“For many years, the National Animal Interest Alliance has played a crucial role in researching and sounding the alarm about pet importation issues in the United States,” said Sheila Goffe, American Kennel Club Vice President, Government Relations. “The AKC is pleased to partner with NAIA in support of regulatory changes in the bill that can be a first step to improving understanding and oversight of the public health consequences of irresponsible pet imports,” she added.

According to the Farm Bill conference report, “little is known about the volume of live dogs imported into the United States, whether as personal pets or animals seeking adoption or purchase by American households. Animal and zoonotic diseases pose serious risks to the U.S., and greater understanding of the pathways these diseases could be entering the U.S., such as via imported live dogs, is warranted.”

AKC appreciates the efforts of the many members of Congress whose support and concern have helped advance this measure.  The AKC thanks Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson for ensuring this important language became law. The AKC also thanks committee sponsors Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA), and Congressmen Neil Dunn (R-FL), Vicki Hartzler (R-MO), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Ralph Abraham (R-LA) for advancing this initiative in the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.  

Assistance to Victims of Domestic Violence. 

Another AKC supported measure, the Pets and Women’s Safety Act (originally H.R. 909/S.322), known as the PAWS Act also became law. The measure adds certain federal protections for pets owned by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence if a pet becomes a victim in a domestic violence situation. The law further creates a program to award grants to eligible entities to aid victims of crimes related to stalking and domestic violence.  This program is similar to a program established by the AKC Humane Fund a decade ago to provide support to domestic violence shelters so that victims can seek shelter with a pet that may be endangered in a domestic violence situation.  

The AKC thanks sponsoring Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.); and sponsoring Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) for their years of effort on this initiative.

For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org


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