S. 3666: To amend the Animal Welfare Act to modify the definition of an exhibitor

S. 3666

To amend the Animal Welfare Act to modify the definition of an exhibitor

Sen. David Vitter

December 31, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Monday, December 31, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 3666, a bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act to modify the definition of “exhibitor,” under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval.  The bill was introduced on December 6, 2012, by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and passed in the Senate on December 6, 2012, by unanimous consent.   

Bill Summary

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. 


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.


A CBO cost estimate for S. 3666 was not available as of press time.