Japanese Chin Club of America
Japanese Chin Club of America

I received Charlotte McGowan's report of the New Hampshire meeting from several sources,though unfortunately not from Charlotte herself.

Actually, the New Hampshire meeting was very productive. The Merrimack Valley Kennel Club invited the other New Hampshire kennel clubs to participate, and there were about 40 people in attendance. For the most part the questions were very thoughtful. In spite of the fact that some people had driven up to 2 hours to get to the meeting, and it didn't break up until after 10 pm, only 2 people left before it was over, which is a real testament to the interest of fanciers in this subject. Quite a number of attendees came up to me afterwards to thank me and the AKC, and expressed support for what we are doing. It would be valuable if more clubs put on meetings like this.

I wanted to set the record straight on some matters in Charlotte's report of the meeting.

I was asked who the sponsors consulted in drafting PAWS. I responded that I did not know all of the individuals and groups that had been consulted, only those that acknowledged being consulted such as the AKC, AVMA, HSUS, and DDAL. The sponsors did not ask us who to consult, nor tell us who they were consulting. Charlotte asked whether the USDA was consulted. I had no reason to evade this question. I said I did not know whether they had been consulted before the bill was introduced, but I am aware of extensive consultation with the USDA since then.

Charlotte asked if information about persons who are brought under regulation by PAWS would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), or something along those lines. I responded that information in inspection reports of persons defined as "dealers" under the Act is subject to FOIA. (That is, the USDA is subject to FOIA, not the dealers. FOIA applies only to government agencies, not to private parties. The FOIA also prohibits the disclosure of personal information, so a great deal of the information on inspection reports disclosed under FOIA is redacted.) I pointed out that no AKC information would be subject to FOIA because (1) it is not a government agency, and (2) in the revised language of PAWS, persons who sell only at retail and are in compliance with a third party inspection such as the AKC are exempt from the Act. They are not dealers, and there is no information to FOIA. If the AKC inspects a wholesaler, who is a dealer under the Act, the inspection information provided to the USDA would be subject to a FOIA request to the USDA, just as the information from the USDA's own inspectors is.

I was asked if the DDAL was opposed to the revisions to PAWS. I responded that they testified at the PAWS hearing that they opposed it, but that I doubted they would take a final position until the new language is finalized and introduced. I was asked whether I thought the DDAL would sue. I pointed out that anybody can file a lawsuit, but for a lawsuit to mean anything there must be grounds for the lawsuit. The only grounds for filing a lawsuit challenging an Act of Congress is its constitutionality. Since it is clear that whatever else PAWS is, it is not unconstitutional, a lawsuit is unlikely, and would not be productive.

I was asked if the AKC would have to change its care and condition standards to make them identical to the USDA's. I responded that the language under consideration did not require third party inspectors to have standards identical to the USDA's, but merely standards that provided at least equivalent protection to those of the USDA.

I was asked if the AKC would have to change its standards from "performance standards" to "engineering standards". This engendered a great deal of discussion about the animal care regulation. I explained the difference between engineering standards, which mandate a particular mechanism for accomplishing a result, and performance standards, which merely describe the result that must be obtained and leaves it up to the regulated entity to determine the best way to accomplish that result. I explained that historically government regulations, including the animal care regulations, had been written largely as engineering standards. I explained that over the past couple of decades regulatory philosophy had changed, and that most regulations were now written as performance standards. I explained that as the USDA has amended its animal care standards over the years, they have replaced many of the engineering standards with performance standards, but that the current regulations still contain a hodgepodge of both. I opined that the USDA would have to extensively rewrite its animal care regulations after PAWS was enacted, and that this would provide the opportunity which the USDA wanted to re-write the animal care standards as performance standards. But I pointed out whether the USDA wrote engineering or performance standards for itself was not of consequence, because third party inspectors were merely obligated to accomplish at least equivalent protection (a performance standard), not have identical regulations.

I stated that I was a consultant to the AKC, not an employee, but certainly didn't make a big point of it. I also pointed out several times that PAWS was written and introduced by both Sen. Santorum and Sen. Durbin, because some questioners seemed to believe PAWS was exclusively a Santorum initiative. I thought it was important that those present understand that this was a bipartisan bill in which Senator Durbin had a great deal of input, and to which he was firmly committed.

In response to a question, I stated that the exemption for shelter and rescue organizations did not cover shelter and rescue operations which imported dogs. Charlotte asked whether this would make shelters participating in the Save-A-Sato dealers. I responded that since Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, dogs brought to the mainland from Puerto Rico are not imports. However, if dogs were brought into Puerto Rico from other Carribean countries they would be imports, and if these dogs were then shipped to the mainland they would still be imports.

How Charlotte came to the conclusion that purebred rescues might not be exempt if they place more than 25 dogs is a mystery to me, since it is crystal clear that they will (unless they import dogs from outside the U.S.). With respect to whether PAWS would put the Hunte Corporation out of business, of course I said it would not, since to the best of my knowledge the Hunte Corporation is a dealer under the current law and would remain a dealer under the new law. However, PAWS will affect all dealers in that it will enable the USDA to be more effective in regulating dealers and in dealing with non-compliers.

Finally, I certainly did not say that the AKC "doesn't attract the same kind of respect it did in the past." In fact, I believe the AKC is attracting ever increasing respect for its commitment to dogs. I did, however, point out that history has shown that the AKC can not, by itself, assure that all breeders in the United States comply with adequate standards for the care and condition of their dogs. The AKC has made a significant contribution to raising the standards in commercial kennels through its mandatory inspection program for high volume breeders. But I pointed out that many high volume breeders have abandoned the AKC's registry rather than be subject to the AKC's standards and mandatory inspection. These breeders have not stopped breeding and selling dogs, they are simply registering them with a plethora of new, for profit registries with essentially no standards other than that the registrant's check clears. Unfortunately, many members of the public are satisfied with being told that their dog is "registered", and do not look behind these registries to determine what their standards are. In fact, many people who are told their puppy is "registered" or from "registered parents" assume that this means they are registered with the AKC, regardless of what initials are on the registration documents or whether they get any registration documents at all. This reality is an important reason why we are supporting PAWS. PAWS will require all high volume breeders to comply with at least minimum standards, like high volume breeders registering with the AKC are already doing.

I'm sure Charlotte must care what's happening in the kennels of domestic breeders who have abandoned AKC registration rather than submit to our standards, and for the tens of thousands of puppies being imported into the U.S. for resale in woefully inhumane conditions and in violation of federal laws and regulations. So far she hasn't said what her ideas are for doing something about it.

You have my permission to cross post and distribute this message.

Best regards,
Jim Holt
Federal Legislative Liaison
The American Kennel Club

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