What Is PAWS?
PAWS is the short form for "Pet Animal Welfare Act of 2005" S1139/HR2669.
This is new legislation proposed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). Santorum has previously tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to expand the definition of "dog sellers" from commercial breeding wholesalers to also include hobby breeders for the purpose of federal licensing.
PAWS abandons the current court-tested, USDA mechanism for federal pet seller licensing based on either wholesale or retail sales. It proposes to define a breeding wholesaler based instead on the numbers of pets sold or litters bred each year.
The intended purpose of this change is to help improve the regulating of "puppy mills” - which on the surface seems like a good thing.
How PAWS Will Affect Cat Breeders If Passed
The ramifications of the bill will be to define the small hobby breeder as a federal pet dealer. Once the hobby breeder is deemed a federal pet seller, the breeder will require licensing - and to fulfill the requirement of licence regulations.
These regulations might specify separate facilities for the raising of the animals. This would disallow animals being raised or cared for in a home environment. This would effectively prevent breeders who actually take pride in home-raising their kittens from continuing to do so.
If this legislation passes, it could severely affect the cat fancy - including shutting down rescuers and pedigreed cat breeders almost entirely.
Who Supports PAWS?
- In Defense of Animals (IDA), a PETA-type in-your-face radical animal rights group
- DDAL (Doris Day Animal League)
The Cat Fancy Is United In Opposition To Paws
No cat oriented organization has come out in favor of PAWS. In fact, the overwhelming majority of clubs, organizations and associations that have publicly stated their opinion are opposed to PAWS. The American Kennel Club stands alone, and in opposition to many of its delegate clubs, in its support of this legislation. In fact, breed parent clubs of the AKC representing over HALF the registrations in that organization are opposed to PAWS.
CFA's Position on PAWS
Excerpt from CFA: "We fought alongside AKC and the dog fanciers for over three years to maintain the concept of wholesale selling of dogs and cats as the characterization of "commercial" in the Animal Welfare Act. This legislation would now completely change this. It removes the exemption for breeders who sell directly to the public through a redefinition of "retail pet store". Fanciers will remember the U.S. Court of Appeals decision in 2003 that resulted in overturning the Doris Day Animal League's law suits against the USDA when they tried to change this definition. We question why we should now completely discard the sound rationale used before to reject this change."
Why You Should Oppose PAWS
- PAWS is poorly written and thus open to broad interpretation and lawsuits .
- Federal inspectors will be permitted ito private homes, an intrusion that USDA argued against in federal court.
- PAWS will classify home breeders as dealers - which will in turn place them in violation of many residential planning and zoning codes.
- USDA resources will be diverted from policing large wholesale operations housing hundreds of animals to inspecting home breeders keeping a small number of pets.
- PAWS moves the USDA focus away from the middlemen, wholesale dealers, transporters and brokers that were the original targets of the Animal Welfare Act
- PAWS would destroy the USDA's ability to concentrate its resources on large facilities that present the greatest risk of violations .
- PAWS would lead to federally regulated retail dealers, including home breeders, that are already subject to public oversight, peer review, and state and local laws that govern humane treatment of animals.
- PAWS changes the original Congressional intent of the Animal Welfare Act to focus on wholesale dealers selling pets through middlemen by adding retail pet breeders and sellers to the Act.
- PAWS dodges a federal court decision that affirmed the right of the Secretary of Agriculture to exempt home breeders from the regulations.
- PAWS is backed by animal rights groups that oppose pet breeding and have a record of using laws to harass and intimidate those who own animals.
- PAWS drives the Animal Welfare Act in a direction not intended by Congress by adding a mixture of retail pet sellers to the wholesale dealers originally covered by the law.
- PAWS deletes exemptions for some retail pet sellers by redefining a dealer as someone who exceeds a threshold number of litters raised and dogs sold.
- PAWS will require hobby breeders to meet standards of housing and care that have not yet been written.
- PAWS fails to exempt individuals and organizations that rescue dogs and place them in new homes.
Write Your Political Leaders
You can help stop PAWS from being passed. Oppose PAWS personally by writing your senator and congressmen individually, by e-mail, fax and snail mail, as well as voicing your opinion by telephone. You should telephone every day. If you've already written once, write again, with a slightly different slant.
You can also send a letter to the Senators on the Subcommittee or to the entire Agriculture Committee. Make sure your letter clearly states OPPOSITION to SB 1139 in the subject.
Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition & Forestry Room SR-328A
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC. 20510-600
Make Your Cat Club's Voice Heard
Go to http://www.cfainc.org/exhibitors/alerts.html to have your club added to the list of opponents to PAWS. For a club to get on the Opponents List a letter must be signed by an officer stating that the club is opposed to the PAWS bill. And this letter must be sent to congressional members and/or their legislative assistants. On the CFA website there is a preaddressed email form. Just paste your club's letter with a blind copy to JMillerArt@aol.com click send...
If this legislation passes, it may be just the first step of the Animal Rights groups to eliminate all pedigreed animals and the keeping of any animals as pets, their acknowledged agenda.