The issue of regulation of "pocket pets" has been extensively reviewed over the last several months by several groups, including our Revised Inspection Procedures Team and the Technical Advisory Group (Supervisory Animal Care Specialists and Staff Officers). There is consensus between these groups, and I agree with their recommendation. This memorandum hereby retracts the previous policy memorandum of March 24, 1994, and establishes new guidance effective immediately.
All retail dealers of small exotic pet type animals (pocket pets) are covered under the Animal Welfare Act and will be regulated. These facilities will be licensed according to our current regulations and standards which includes passing the pre-licensing inspection. However, follow up inspections of a routine nature will be conducted on a complaint driven basis with a minimum inspection frequency of at least once every three years. This method of inspection is consistent with risk-based inspection procedures currently under development. Based on our current knowledge and high degree of public oversight typical of retail pet stores, these types of operations can be considered low risk for both the animals and the Agency.
Retail pet stores that sell small exotic pet type animals will be licensed as class B dealers. The licensing fee will be based on the sales of the wild/exotic animals only, but all covered animals are to be inspected. Official USDA identification is not required for dogs and cats sold retail. Records of acquisition are required for all covered animals but records of disposition are only required for the wild/exotic animals.
Future modifications to these procedures may become necessary as a result of additional information gleaned through licensing and inspecting retail pocket pet dealers or for consistency with final procedures adopted for risk-based inspections. We will also be considering a regulatory change that would allow for registration or a special license classification for such activities.
W. Ron DeHaven
Acting Deputy Administrator
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The Animal Welfare Information Center
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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