Retail sellers have long been provided an exemption from federal licensing through the broad definition of
“retail pet store”. APHIS proposes to revise this definition and bring more pet animals sold at retail under the
Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licensing and regulations. APHIS will limit the definition of retail pet store so that it
means a place of business or residence that EACH buyer physically enters in order to personally observe the
animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase. Under the
proposed rule, no dog or other pet animal will be sold at retail without either public or APHIS oversight. If you
sell dogs, cats, rabbits, small exotic animals, or other small pets and cannot qualify for exemption in the AWA
then you must obtain a federal license and meet set standards.
What does USDA Licensed Facility Mean?
Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average retail seller. The average house cannot be
converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal engineered standards for licensed facilities dictate enclosure
sizes, sanitation, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care,
exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms,
perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals. It does not matter how well you
think you care for your animals, Federal regulations are not flexible and do not allow for your own discretion.
You must strictly adhere to what the regulations and your inspector say are acceptable equipment, care, and
• The USDA license will classify you as a commercial business. You will need to know the allowed uses for
your property in the current zoning and land use regulations. There may be minimum acreage
requirements for commercial land uses.
• You will need to know what the required setbacks are. In land use, a setback is the distance which a
building or other structure is set back from a street or road, or other things like fences and property lines.
There may also be limitations on the size and height of the building you need to set up for your animals.
Building permits will be required.
• Separate facility will be needed for females within two weeks of whelp.
• In order to bring female into your home for whelping or birthing the room used must meet USDA standards
– impervious to moisture – meaning tile floor and vinyl-coated walls.
• Kittens under 4 months of age may not be housed in the same primary enclosure with adult cats, other
than the dam or foster dam.
• Separate facility meeting USDA standards will be needed for puppies (they cannot be with adults).
• NO breeding stock allowed to run loose in your home unless it meets the requirements. Your house is not
impervious to moisture, so therefore not up to USDA code.
• All surfaces touched by animals must be waterproof and sterilized every two weeks with your choice of live
steam under pressure, 180 degree water and detergent with disinfectant, or a combination
• Use of cat trees/scratching posts may need approval from your inspector as they are not impervious to
moisture, difficult to sanitize, and will need frequent replacement if allowed.
• Pens, runs, and outdoor housing areas using gravel, sand, or earth which cannot be sanitized with live
steam or detergent must be sanitized by removing and replacing the material as necessary in order to
prevent odors. This would be at the discretion of the inspector.
• Facilities must be equipped with disposal and drainage systems that are constructed and operated so that
animal waste and water are rapidly eliminated and animals stay dry.
• Facilities must provide readily accessible washrooms, basins, or sinks.
• Facilities must provide evenly diffused natural or artificial lighting on regular diurnal cycles.
• You must have a separate food preparation area from your kitchen. Food cannot be left in bags, but must
be stored in airtight containers.
• Temperature of the kennel facility must be within the allowed range (45-85 degrees) at all times and a daily
high-low record maintained.
• You must employ a veterinarian under formal arrangements which must include regularly scheduled visits
to your premises and a written program of veterinary care.
• You must hire sufficient staff to carry out and maintain the required level of husbandry practices and care
required in the regulations.
• If you are licensed and inspected locally or by the state, you are NOT exempt from federal licensing and
regulation. You would be required to carry both licenses and meet all requirements.
Living With USDA Inspections and Being “Written Up” For Violations
The 60 plus pages of current USDA standards as written are designed for research labs and commercial
facilities where animals are bred and raised as a business for resale. The regulations were not designed for
small part time breeders or mom and pop kennels working out of their homes.
• Breeding is your hobby, not your livelihood, but you have enough animals that you cannot meet any
exemptions. You are at work when the inspector comes, so you are written up for not being there. Fines
can be up to $10,000.00.
• The only one who can allow an inspector to conduct an inspection of a kennel is the person named on the
license or a designee that is listed as being allowed to accompany the inspector in the absence of the
licensee. In the absence of either, it is listed as a violation when the inspector shows up unannounced to
conduct an inspection.
• Broken kennel wire? Dirty windows? Lid off a food container? Clogged drain that created a puddle of
standing water. Footprints in your kennel building on a rainy day? All of these can get you “written up” for
a violation. Three write ups and you will be fined.
• Inspectors will always find something to write you up for. They have to or else they will be accused of not
doing their jobs.
Invasion of Privacy or "Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to see if
you've scooped your kennel runs this morning"
Every violation write-up you receive is public information and can be obtained from USDA through the
Freedom of Information Act. Efforts to protect such lists from public disclosure have failed.
We do know that the animal rights activists already compile lists of breeders from referral sources, show
catalogs, and advertising to give to enforcement authorities. They also do their own sting operations, calling
breeders to see if they have puppies available, do they know anyone else who does, etc. The proposed rule
will create tens of thousands of new USDA licensed "dealers." All new dealer names and precise addresses
will be posted on a USDA website for every animal rightist zealot to access.
Furthermore, both HSUS and ASPCA offer "bounties" for breeders. These organizations encourage vigilante
actions and how much easier they will be once self-appointed inspectors are equipped with USDA provided
dealer address lists. It will only take a couple of bounty-inspired incidents to render the dog-breeding
community completely terrorized. How long do you think it will take until all breeders are vanquished -- either
by direct assault from these groups or willingly leaving out of fear?
Posted on Thu, July 26, 2012
by Matt Kremzar