CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On 2012, the House is scheduled to consider, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage, the Senate Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, S. 3666, which will modify the definition of “exhibitor”. The bill was introduced by Senator Vitter (R –LA) and passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent on December 6, 2012. The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee of Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry on December 17, 2012.
S. 3666 would exclude certain pet owners from being defined as an animal “exhibitor” under the Animal Welfare Act. The bill would exclude pet owners who derive less than a substantial portion of their income by exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at the residence of the pet owner. The Department of Agriculture would be responsible for determining appropriate income thresholds. The legislation would exclude such owners from licensing requirements under the Animal Welfare Act.
S. 3666 excludes from the definition of "exhibitor," for purposes of the licensing and other regulatory requirements of the Act, owners of common, domesticated household pets who derive less than a substantial portion of income from a nonprimary source for exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at the residence of the pet owner.
Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act in 1966 to protect certain animals from inhumane treatment and neglect. The law has been strengthened through amendments in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2007, and 2008. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) administers the AWA, its standards, and its regulations.
According to CRS, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA; 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.) is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals that are intended for research, bred for commercial sale, exhibited to the public, or commercially transported. Under the AWA, businesses and others with animals covered by the law must be licensed or registered, and they must adhere to minimum standards of care. Farm animals are among those not covered by the act, which nonetheless provides a broad set of statutory protections for animals. Generally, animal dealers and exhibitors must obtain a license, for which an annual fee is charged. The Department of Agriculture does not issue a license until it inspects the facility and finds it to be in full compliance with its regulations. If a facility loses its license, it cannot continue its regulated activity. Those who conduct research, and general carriers that transport regulated animals, do not need a license but must still register with the Department of Agriculture and undergo periodic inspections. Exhibitors must be licensed as such by the Department of Agriculture. These so-called Class C licensees include zoos, marine mammal shows, circuses, carnivals, and promotional and educational exhibits. The law and regulations exempt agricultural shows and fairs, horse shows, rodeos, pet shows, game preserves, hunting events, and private collectors who do not exhibit, among others.
This bill was included as section 12204 of S. 3240 and the CBO score associated with that bill shows the provisions contained in this bill did not score.