USDA seeks comments on Animal Welfare Act licensing

Agency opens 60-day comment period to determine potential updates to law’s licensing requirements.

Marking the 51st anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday asked for input from the public to help determine potential updates to the law’s licensing requirements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is tasked with upholding and enforcing the AWA, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on Aug. 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 Aug. 24, 2017, Federal Register and will be available after publication at the website. Comments will be accepted through Oct. 23, 2017, either online at after Aug. 24, 2017, or in writing at: Docket No. APHIS-2017-0062, Regulatory Analysis & Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

On Aug. 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 that will allow APHIS to make animal welfare information publicly available and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

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