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USDA/APHIS RIN: 0579-AD57 Publication ID: 2012 
Title: ●Animal Welfare; Retail Pet Stores 
Abstract: This rulemaking will revise the definition of retail pet store and related regulations to bring more pet animals sold at retail under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Retail pet stores are not required to be licensed and inspected under the AWA. This rulemaking is necessary to ensure that animals sold at retail are monitored for their health and humane treatment. 
Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 9 CFR 1 and 2   
Legal Authority: 7 USC 2131 to 2159   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need: "Retail pet stores" are not required to obtain a license under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or comply with the AWA regulations and standards. Currently, anyone selling, at retail, the following animals for use as pets are considered retail pet stores: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and cold-blooded species. This rulemaking would rescind the "retail pet store" status of anyone selling, at retail for use as pets, those types of animals to buyers who do not physically enter his or her place of business or residence in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase. Unless otherwise exempt under the regulations, these entities would be required to obtain a license from APHIS and would become subject to the AWA regulations and standards.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA or the Act, 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.), the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to promulgate standards and other requirements governing the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of certain animals by dealers, research facilities, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers. The Secretary has delegated responsibility for administering the AWA to the Administrator of APHIS.

Alternatives: We recognize that retailers who sell some animals to walk-in customers and some animals remotely may be subject to a certain degree of oversight by the customers who enter their place of business or residence. As a result, we considered establishing a regulatory threshold based on the percentage of such a retailer's remote sales. A second alternative we considered in preparing the proposed rule was to add an exception from licensing for retailers that are subject to oversight by State or local agencies or by breed and registry organizations that enforce standards of welfare comparable to those standards established under the AWA. A third alternative we considered during the development of the proposed rule was to amend the definition of retail pet store so that only high-volume breeders would be subject to the AWA regulations and standards. We determined, however, that the proposed action would be preferable to these alternatives.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: Although we have attempted to estimate the impact of the proposed rule, we did not initially have enough information to fully assess it, particularly information on the number of entities that may be affected or breadth of operational changes that may result. In the proposed rule, we encouraged public comment on the number of entities that may be affected and the degree to which operations would be altered to comply with the rule. We believe that the benefits of the rule -- primarily enhanced animal welfare -- would justify the costs. The rule would help ensure that animals sold at retail, but lacking public oversight receive humane handling, care and treatment in keeping with the requirements of the AWA. It would also address the competitive disadvantage of retail breeders who adhere to the AWA regulations, when compared to those retailers who do not operate their facilities according to AWA standards and may therefore bear lower costs. These benefits are not quantified.

Risks: Not applicable.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  05/16/2012  77 FR 28799   
NPRM Comment Period End  07/16/2012 
NPRM Comment Period Extended  07/16/2012  77 FR 41716   
NPRM Comment Period End  08/15/2012 
Final Rule  02/00/2013 
Additional Information: Additional information about APHIS and its programs is available on the Internet at
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: None 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Gerald Rushin
Veterinary Medical Officer, Animal Care
Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
4700 River Road, Unit 84,
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231
Phone:301 851-3740