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«Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act Guidelines for Dealers, Exhibitors, Transporters, and Researchers Introduction: Ensuring ...»

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Licensing and Registration Under the

Animal Welfare Act

Guidelines for Dealers, Exhibitors, Transporters, and



Ensuring proper animal care and comfort is not just good business-it is also required by law

under the Animal Welfare Act. Passed by Congress in 1966 and amended in 1970, 1976, 1985,

and 1990, the law protects many animals not raised for food or fiber. It also sets stiff penalties for

sponsors and promoters of outlawed animal-fighting ventures.

Many businesses that buy or sell warmblooded animals, exhibit them to the public, transport them commercially, or use them in experiments or teaching must be licensed or registered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Normal farm-type operations that raise, or buy and sell, animals only for food and fiber, and businesses that use only fish and other coldblooded animals are exempt by law; those that use only rats, mice, or birds are exempt by regulation. The rabbit business is exempt from regulation if the rabbits are intended only for food or fiber. If any rabbits are designated for use in the pet, exhibit, or laboratory-animal trade, the business is regulated.

Certain other types of businesses are specifically exempt by law or regulation. No exempt business has to be licensed or registered.

This pamphlet lists the major types of regulated and exempt businesses, but it does not cover all cases. If in doubt about your status, telephone or write the Regional Office of the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care (AC) for your State (see page 19).

AC personnel will answer your questions and provide a copy of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A, which gives the legal requirements for businesses regulated by the Animal Welfare Act.

If you are an owner or the person in charge of a regulated business, the law requires you to be licensed or registered with USDA. Failure to become licensed or registered is a punishable violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

On the basis of information you supply, APHIS determines whether your business should be licensed, registered, or both. Licensing involves a yearly fee; registration is free. The owner, operator, or manager has responsibility for knowing about licensing or registration requirements.

The annual license fee for licensed animal dealers (Class A or B) ranges from $30 to $750, depending on your annual dollar volume of business in regulated animals. (Class A licensees are breeders and deal only in animals they breed and raise. Class B licensees include brokers, bunchers, and operators of auction sales.) The annual license fee for licensed animal exhibitors (Class C) ranges from $30 to $300, depending on the number of regulated animals held. In addition to the annual license fee, an application fee of $10 must be paid with all yearly license applications.

The same standards of animal care apply to all registered and licensed businesses, and APHIS field inspectors make periodic unannounced visits to all locations where animals are held to see that regulations and standards are followed.

Basically, the Federal animal care standards cover humane handling, housing, space, feeding and watering, sanitation, ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather, adequate veterinary care, separation of incompatible animals, transportation, and handling in transit.

If your facilities or practices do not meet Federal standards when you apply, you will receive up to three inspections within a period not to exceed 90 days to correct any deficiencies. Licenses are not issued until all deficiencies are corrected. If you do not pass inspection within the 90-day period, you must wait at least 6 months before reapplying for a license. Legal action results if you operate a regulated business without a license.

Animal Dealers If your business falls under any of the categories of "dealers" listed below, you must be licensed by USDA. You cannot be licensed or registered as an exhibitor. You must be licensed according to what type of activity is your predominant business. When first contacting APHIS, indicate the species you handle, the type of business you are in, and the type of business to which you sell animals. You can hold one type of license only.

Regulated Businesses Pet Wholesalers: Anyone importing, buying, selling, or trading pets in wholesale channels must be licensed. Annual license fees are based on the amount received from the sale of regulated animals less the amount paid for these animals.

Pet Breeders: Anyone breeding pets for the wholesale trade must be licensed. You also may have to be licensed if you sell dogs as breeding stock to other breeders. Some small-scale breeders can qualify for an exemption (see "Hobby Breeders"). Annual license fees are based on 50 percent of gross sales of regulated animals.

Laboratory Animal Dealers: Anyone importing, buying, selling, or trading laboratory animals, either directly to research institutions or through other dealers, must be licensed. This licensing requirement includes "bunchers," who supply dealers with dogs, cats, and other regulated animals collected from random sources; it also includes research institutions (except State or Federal facilities) that sell or trade surplus animals to others. Annual license fees are based on the amount received from the sale of regulated animals less the amount paid for these animals.

Laboratory Animal Breeders: Anyone breeding regulated animals for laboratory-animal trade must be licensed. Annual license fees are based on 50 percent of gross sales of regulated animals.

Animal Brokers: Anyone who deals in regulated animals but does not take physical possession must be licensed. If you meet this definition of a broker, you are exempt from certain regulations imposed on dealers who handle animals, but you need the same type of license. Annual license fees are based on income from commissions and brokerage fees (with no deductions).

Auction Operators: Anyone who operates an auction at which regulated animals are sold must be licensed. For example, licenses must be acquired by radio and television stations that conduct auctions with telephone bids on regulated animals-whether or not the proceeds go to charity.

Annual license fees for auction operators are based on income from commissions and fees from selling regulated animals.

Promoters Giving Animal Prizes: A carnival concessionaire or other promoter who gives regulated animals as prizes must be licensed. Annual license fees are based on the amount paid to the promoter to offer animal prizes less the amount paid for these animals.

Exotic Animal Dealers: Anyone importing, buying, selling, or trading animals foreign to the United States (wild or domesticated) must be licensed. You also must be licensed if you sell domestically bred exotic animals. Annual license fees are based on the amount received from the sale of regulated animals less the amount paid for these animals.

Wild Animal Dealers: A business or individual selling wild animals must be licensed. "Wild animals" means any animal that is now or historically has been found in the wild, or in the wild state, within the boundaries of the United States, its territories, or possessions. This term includes, but is not limited to, animals such as deer, skunk, raccoon, mink, armadillo, coyote, squirrel, fox, and wolf.

If you sell any wild or exotic animals, you are not eligible to claim exemption as a retail pet store. You become a full-fledged dealer, and you must comply with standards of care for all regulated animals-not just wild or exotic animals. Annual license fees are based on the amount received from the sale of regulated animals less the amount paid for these animals.

Suppliers of Specimens: Anyone who sells dead animals that are regulated or who sells the blood, serum, or parts of these animals must be licensed. Annual license fees are based on income from specimens less cost of the specimens or the animals from which they were prepared.

Exempt Businesses Retail Pet Stores: Anyone whose entire business consists of selling domestic animals to pet owners is exempt. However, if as part of your business you exhibit animals, you may have to be licensed as an exhibitor.

For example, you need an exhibitor's license if you take animals outside the store for teaching or promotion or if you set up a petting display. You must be licensed as a dealer if you sell wild or exotic animals, or if you sell regulated animals to other retailers, research institutions, exhibitors, or other animal dealers. You need to be licensed as an exhibitor if you display a monkey or other wild animal inside the store.

Exemptions for retail pet stores are on an all-or-nothing basis. If you qualify for exemption, none of your business is regulated or inspected. If you do not qualify, you are a full-fledged dealer, and all your regulated animals are inspected.

Retail Chain Stores: Centrally managed stores that sell pets entirely at retail are exempt. Like independent retailers, chains are treated as business entities on an all-or-nothing basis. If all outlets qualify as retail pet stores, the entire chain is free from regulation. Conversely, if any outlet does not qualify as a retail pet store, the company must be licensed as a dealer, and all regulated animals at all outlets are inspected.

Direct Sales: Anyone who sells domestic pets directly to pet owners is exempt, regardless of sales volume. Such sales can be made in person or by mail.

Hobby Breeders: Small-scale breeders with gross sales under $500 per year are exempt, as long as these sales do not include wild or exotic animals, dogs, or cats. If you own no more than three breeding female dogs or cats and sell the offspring, into the pet channels only, you are exempt.

Public Pounds: Animal shelters that are part of State, county, or local governments are exempt.

The exemption covers only the pound's own activities. You must have a dealer's license if you purchase animals from pounds for resale or acquire them on contract for resale. The Pet Protection Act of 1990 places some restrictions on pounds and shelters, such as a specific holding period for animals before they may be sold to a dealer.

Private Shelters: Animal shelters operated by humane societies and other private groups are exempt unless animals are disposed of through trade channels as pets or to research institutions for use as laboratory animals, or animals are taken off the premises for exhibition to the public.

Trade-Day Sales Sponsors: Anyone arranging occasions for people to make private sales or trades of animals is exempt. The exemption holds only if the sponsor does not act as intermediary in the transaction. The buyers, sellers, and traders at trade-day sales, however, must be licensed if they meet the definition of a dealer.

Boarding Kennels: Anyone housing animals for others is exempt, except for intermediate handlers and holding facilities. You must be registered as an intermediate handler if, as part of your services, you receive shipment of regulated animals traveling on public carriers. You have to agree in writing to observe USDA's standards of animal care if you operate a holding facilitymeaning that you board regulated animals for licensed dealers or research facilities. APHIS inspects regulated animals in holding facilities to ensure that they receive the required care;

dealers or research facilities need prior APHIS approval to board regulated animals with you.

Dealers in a Nonregulated Species: There is a blanket exemption for anyone handling only those animals not included under Federal law or regulations (see Introduction). Examples of businesses not needing licensing or registration are those restricted to birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

Animal Transporters If you are involved in any way in the transportation of regulated animals as part of your business operation, you must be licensed as a dealer or registered as an intermediate handler or carrier.

When contacting APHIS, indicate whether you are applying for a license as a private carrier or are being registered as an intermediate handler or public carrier, as described below.

Regulated Businesses Carriers: Any enterprise transporting regulated animals for hire as a common carrier must be registered as a carrier. This includes airlines, railroads, motor carriers, shipping lines, and other enterprises. As a carrier, all your facilities where animals are kept or held are regulated, including terminals and freight storage. You are responsible for enforcing all restrictions on animals that can be legally shipped by your customers. You also are responsible for proper crating, whether the shipper or receiver is a private pet owner, a business, an institution, or a Government agency.

Pets transported by their owners as carryon baggage are not subject to these restrictions.

Intermediate Handlers: Anyone taking custody of regulated animals in connection with transporting them on public carriers must be registered as an intermediate handler. This requirement covers boarding kennels that take responsibility for shipping animals or receiving them after or during shipment, as well as freight forwarders and freight handlers.

Contract Carriers: Anyone transporting regulated animals by contract or agreement must obtain a license as a dealer and is responsible for complying with all regulations and standards.

This requirement covers those that are not involved as common carriers or intermediate handlers but do transport animals for profit or compensation, such as transporting animals for licensed dealers to airports, pet stores, etc.

Exempt Businesses Transporters of Nonregulated Species: There is a blanket exemption for anyone transporting only animals not included under Federal law or regulations (see Introduction). Examples of carriers not needing licensing or registration are those restricting their services to birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

Animal Taxis: Individuals who transport private pets to and from the veterinarian, groomer, etc.

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