By | Posted: May 11, 2012, 9 a.m. EDT
The new definition would cover only those stores in which each and every pet sold was sold to someone who visited the business in person.
The existing definition allowed some Internet and mail-order sellers of pets, primarily an estimated 1,500 dog breeders, to avoid meeting Animal Welfare Act requirements by operating as a retail business and selling direct to the public.
The proposed rule would remove the retail pet store exemption from any brick-and-mortar pet stores that sell any animals via the Internet, phone or mail because APHIS wants to ensure all animals sold retail are monitored by it or the public. A store could presumably keep its mail-order animals away from public scrutiny.
The AWA requirements include identification of animals, recordkeeping, facilities and operations standards (including space, structure, and construction; waste disposal; heating ventilation; lighting; and interior surface requirements); animal health and husbandry standards (veterinary care; sanitation; feeding, watering, and separation of animals); and transportation standards (enclosures, care of animals in transit, etc.).
Retail pet stores have been exempt from the AWA under the premise that the public visits the facilities and observes the animals prior to purchase to ensure the animals were cared for in a humane and healthy way, according to the USDA. However, the definition of retail pet store was written in 1971, prior to the advent of the Internet and online sales. “This proposed change is aimed at modernizing our regulations to require individuals who sell animals directly to the public to meet basic care and feeding as required by the Animal Welfare Act,” says Rebecca Blue, deputy under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs for the USDA. “By revising the definition of retail pet store to
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