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USDA PROPOSES TO AMEND THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT TO REQUIRE ITINERARIES FROM TRAVELING EXHIBITORS

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Contact:
David Sacks (301) 734-5271
Andrea McNally (301) 734-0602

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2009--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it is proposing to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations to require the submission of itineraries by exhibitors.

This proposal would ensure that APHIS' animal care inspectors have access to exhibitors' facilities, animals and records to conduct unannounced inspections, regardless of where they may be exhibiting in the United States. This proposal will help APHIS ensure compliance with the requirements of the AWA.

In 2009, there were at least 202 traveling exhibitors of regulated animals in the United States. These facilities include circuses, mobile petting zoos and other animal acts. Although APHIS animal care (AC) has a policy in place requiring itineraries from traveling exhibitors, some exhibitors do not routinely travel with their animals and some regulated entities do not submit them in a timely manner.

Without an accurate itinerary for each facility, AC must expend limited resources locating exhibitors in order to perform unannounced regular and follow-up inspections. Obtaining updated itineraries in a timely fashion will allow AC to have more constant communication with licensees making it easier to conduct inspections, contact exhibitors regarding animal health issues and to investigate complaints.

Under the proposal, exhibitors would be required to submit the dates that they will be traveling--including stops and layovers (with addresses). As part of this proposal, AC would also require exhibitors to submit identifying information for each animal that will be exhibited outside their designated primary facility, including its description and species information and the names of the animal's owner, exhibitor, lessor/lessee and transporter.

The AWA authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate standards and other requirements governing the humane handling, housing, care, treatment and transportation of certain animals by dealers, exhibitors and other regulated entities. The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the responsibility for enforcing the AWA to the animal care division of APHIS. Animal care works to ensure compliance with AWA regulations by conducting inspections of facilities with regulated animals.

Notice of this proposal is published in today's Oct. 1 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Nov. 30. You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to
http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?
main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2006-0023
to submit or view comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
• Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0023, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0023.

Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and may also be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.

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