Marking the 51st anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week asked for input from the public to help determine potential updates to the law’s licensing requirements. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is tasked with upholding and enforcing the AWA. The AWA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 24, 1966.
“As a trained veterinarian, humane standards of care for animals are close to my heart and central to my love and concern for our four-legged friends,” Perdue said. “Administering the AWA is a key USDA mission, and we are always looking for ways to improve. We welcome comments from the public as APHIS considers changes to the licensing requirements to help us fulfill this important responsibility.”
Each year, USDA issues nearly 6,000 licenses to people who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes. The department is responsible for ensuring that these licensees comply with the AWA’s humane standards of care, which enables the American public to confidently purchase pets and view animals on public display.
The full list of potential changes will be published in the August 24, 2017 Federal Register and be available after publication at the Regulations.gov website. Comments will be accepted through October 23, 2017, either online at Regulations.gov after August 24, 2017 or in writing at: Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
On August 18, 2017, APHIS unveiled a refined public search tool that provides access to AWA compliance records. The public search tool is a component of the Animal Care Information System and will allow APHIS to make animal welfare information publicly available and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.