Federal Legislation Could Negatively Affect Hunting Dog Owners

Federal Legislation Could Negatively Affect Hunting Dog Owners

Hunters use dogs when pursuing many different kinds of game animals. From pointing dogs to retrievers to coon dogs to deer hounds, canines are often not only man’s best friend, but also a hunter’s best companion in the field, woods or marsh.

Hunting dog owners could find themselves in a regulation nightmare if some in the U.S. Congress get their way. According to a legislative alert distributed by the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Government Relations section, a bill that would allow the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to circumvent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) animal experts in enforcing federal breeder licensing—and potentially undermine the current hobby breeder exemptions for USDA licensing—is gaining traction in Congress.

The legislation, H.R. 5041/Senate Bill 2555, is called the “Better CARE for Animals Act” by its promoters and circumvents enforcement of dog breeder licensing under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by the USDA and shifts authority to the DOJ.

“This shift would move oversight authority from an agency staffed by animal experts that focuses on improving animal husbandry and instead place it with one with little or no animal expertise that focuses on violations as potential federal crimes,” the AKC alert states.

According to AKC, the measure would also empower the DOJ to file charges, seize animals and impose penalties regardless of whether the USDA has determined, or even alleged, that there has been an AWA violation. And for those who breed a litter or two every year or so, the legislation gets worse.

“Additionally, the measure could potentially undermine or remove current exemptions from licensing for small hobby breeders, thereby requiring them to be licensed and comply with USDA standards,” the alert said.

Under current USDA regulations, anyone who maintains more than four “breeding females” and transfers even one of the offspring “sight unseen” is subject to licensing under the AWA. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is staffed by thousands of animal experts, currently administers AWA licensing requirements.

A shift to having the DOJ provide the oversight would open up the opportunity for DOJ officials to make their own rules for dog owners and enforce whatever rules they choose—just like they have done to America’s lawful gun owners under the leadership of President Joe Biden.

“DOJ does not have staff, veterinarians or experts in animal husbandry and behavior that are experienced in evaluating AWA compliance or enforcement,” the alert further stated. “Rather than creating more efficiency, HR 5041/S 2555 creates redundant and potentially conflicting authorities and jurisdictions.”

AKC is encouraging dog owners to make their voices heard concerning the legislation. Hunting dog owners interested in contacting their representative and senators can visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center at and type in their address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box to get the contact info for their representative and senators.

About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and bird dog field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for almost 25 years.