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<div class="quote-block"><b>Court rules people who sell and breed animals out of their homes are exempt from U.S. law.</b><br><br><br><br>
Rejecting arguments from animal rights groups, a federal appeals court ruled last week that residential breeders of dogs and cats are not subject to federal licensing and inspection.<br><br><br><br>
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said people who sell and breed animals out of their homes fall under the definition of retail pet stores that are exempt from regulation under federal law.<br><br><br><br>
The decision reversed a lower court ruling that found that breeders in private homes should be subject to federal cleaning, sanitation and handling requirements under the Animal Welfare Act.<br><br><br><br>
Though these breeders wont be subject to U.S. Department of Agriculture scrutiny, in Missouri they must be registered with the states Department of Agriculture under the Animal Care Facilities Act.<br><br><br><br>
Hundreds of thousands of dog breeders in the United States raise and sell puppies from their homes, but only wholesale and not retail breeders who keep more than three dogs per year are required to obtain licenses from the USDA, which enforces federal animal laws.<br><br><br><br>
But under Missouri law, any breeder with three or more intact females must be registered with the state Department of Agriculture no matter if they are selling wholesale or retail, said inspector Lee Weeks. Missouri does not regulate pet stores unless they sell dogs and cats.<br><br><br><br>
Hobby and show breeders must register with the department if they have up to 10 intact females of the same breed, but are not inspected unless there are complaints, he said.<br><br><br><br>
There are 281 licensed or registered hobby/show breeders in the state, according to the ACFA quarterly report released last year.<br><br><br><br>
We have many people who are licensed with us that are not licensed with USDA, Weeks said. And quite a number are registered as show and hobby breeders and they are not licensed with USDA.<br><br><br><br>
Several animal welfare groups led by the Washington-based Doris Day Animal League filed suit to force the Agriculture Department to regulate home-based retail animal breeders, claiming puppy mills that mistreat animals have escaped regulation by selling directly to the public through newspaper ads or on the Internet.<br><br><br><br>
The case pitted animal rights organizations, concerned about animal cruelty, against dog breeders who claim federal licensing would be intrusive and unnecessary. The Agriculture Department sided with breeders, saying small animal retailers are already subject to state and local regulations, as well as oversight from breed and registry organizations.<br><br><br><br>
The appeals court agreed with federal officials, finding that the Animal Welfare Act made no formal distinction between pet stores exempt from regulation and private individuals selling animals from home.<br><br><br><br>
The (Agriculture) Department has decided to focus on wholesale dealers, where its resources are likely to yield the greatest benefit, the three-judge panel wrote.<br><br><br><br>
This is a reasonable choice, keeping in mind the purpose of the act to promote animal welfare.<br><br><br><br>
But Sara Amundson, a spokeswoman for the Doris Day Animal League, said the lack of federal oversight leaves gaping holes in those jurisdictions without adequate local regulations.<br><br><br><br>
The patchwork of state and local laws is not uniform, Amundson said. There are jurisdictions around the country where these dealers definitely fall through the cracks.<br><br><br><br>
The Animal League and the Humane Society of the United States say they often receive reports of home breeding operations that leave dogs sick, malnourished or improperly weaned. Federal regulations set minimum housing, feeding and cleanliness standards, mandate regular consultation with a veterinarian and require breeders to keep sales records.<br></div>
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