At today’s Delegates’ meeting, Board Chairman Ron Menaker read a letter sent to him by Senator Santorum on January 13. The letter will be in the minutes of the meeting; meanwhile, Ron Menaker has given permission to provide its essence to the delegates through this list-serve. The following three paragraphs are taken verbatim from Senator Santorum’s letter.

“First, I’m pleased to report that since the hearing we have added 14 co-sponsors here in the senate, so that by the time we recessed in December PAWS had 23 Senate co-sponsors. The companion bill in the House of Representatives has 129 co-sponsors. Second, I stated at the November hearing that I planned to make a number of additions and improvements to PAWS to address issues raised at the hearing and in the discussion of that legislation that has taken place before and since that hearing. Although we were unable to complete that process by the Christmas recess, as I had originally hoped, we have been working hard on it, and I am pleased to report that I expect to release a discussion draft by the end of this month.”

“This discussion draft will include the provisions I outlined at the hearing, including a clarification of the numerical criteria for “dealers” and explicit exemption for shelter and rescue organizations, and clarification of the definition of “retail pet store.” This draft will also clarify that persons who sell dogs for hunting, security or breeding purposes cannot be singled out for any special treatment under the Act.”

“I’m particularly pleased to report to you that this discussion draft will also include a provision exempting from the definition of dealer retail sellers of dogs and cats who are in compliance with the standards of non-profit organizations such as the American Kennel Club who have kennel; standards and inspection programs that the Secretary of Agriculture has certified are at least as effective as those required under the Animal Welfare Act.”

I am very anxious to see the discussion draft, and I see every reason to be optimistic: the promised revisions address all the points I raised in my article in the September issue of Perspectives, and some that surfaced later. In addition, the discussion draft will not be the final legislation, and Senator Santorum makes it very clear that he will be open to suggestions for further revisions. It seems to me that AKC’s strategy to work within the legislative process is paying off. When the discussion draft is released, I hope we will unite in constructive discussion, help make this a really good bill, and do so without inflammatory and confrontational rhetoric.

Dr. Gerry Meisels
St. Petersburg DFA

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