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USDA APHIS Animal Care Finalizes Revised Licensing Regulations

May 20, 2020, Covington Alert

Last week, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, through the Deputy Administrator for Animal Care (Animal Care), published its final revised regulations for licensing dealers, exhibitors, and operators of auction sales under the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131, et seq. (AWA). The revised regulations will be effective November 9, 2020.

The revised regulations did away with APHIS’s annual license renewal process and instead provide that a licensed entity must apply for a new license 1) every three years, and 2) after it gives 90 days’ notice to APHIS, whenever there is any change in the ownership (including substantial control), location, activities, or type of animals or an increase in the number of animals (authorized in increments of 50) the license allows. The regulations set particularized requirements for specific categories of animals.

APHIS will inspect each applicant and charge a flat fee of $120 for each application. If the applicant fails to demonstrate compliance with the AWA, its regulations and standards, applicant can request up to two additional inspections. Animal Care can also deny an application if the applicant has within three years either violated or pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of violating an animal cruelty law or regulation or if Animal Care determines such act renders applicant unfit to be licensed. Additional bases for denial include the licensee operating in violation of law or having made false or fraudulent statements regarding animal transport, ownership, neglect or welfare. An applicant that fails all three or one or both earlier inspections and does not request the subsequent inspection(s) to which it is entitled cannot reapply for a license for six months. Alternatively, such an applicant may appeal. If the application is still denied following appeal, the applicant can request a hearing, as can an applicant having an initial application that is denied for a different reason. If the denial is upheld, the applicant cannot reapply for a year.

Following a hearing, Animal Care can terminate a license for the same reasons it can deny an application. If Animal Care temporarily suspends or permanently revokes a license, neither the licensee (including any partnership, firm, corporation, or other legal entity in which the licensee holds a substantial interest), nor any officer, agent or employee of the licensee who was responsible for or participated in the activity on which the suspension or revocation was based can, while the suspension is in effect or following the revocation, be licensed or registered under the AWA as a carrier, intermediate handler, dealer, exhibitor or research facility.

These regulations also codified the timing APHIS Animal Care had introduced several years ago for appealing an inspection report. Animal Care must receive the appeal within 21 days of the licensee’s receipt of the inspection report. The revised regulations additionally provide for revised watering requirements and veterinary care for dogs.

If you have any questions concerning the material discussed in this client alert, please contact the following members of our Animal Food and Drug practice.

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