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Open Letter from Animal Care's Deputy Administrator to Stakeholders

To all our valued stakeholders,

This past year has been a pivotal one for APHIS’ Animal Care (AC) program. Like everyone across the country, we were forced to quickly adjust to a new environment due to the spread of COVID-19. As we look forward to the upcoming year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share several updates on various animal welfare issues:

Announcing the Director of the Center for Animal Welfare
AC is excited to announce the selection of Dr. Martha Keller as the new Director of the Center for Animal Welfare, located in Kansas City, MO. Dr. Keller joined Animal Care in 2020 and worked most recently as an Assistant Director in animal welfare operations. Dr. Keller’s appointment will allow us increased opportunities to collaborate with a diverse array of partners and will expand opportunities for education and outreach on a wide range of animal welfare topics. The Center and its specialists look forward to providing assistance to our AC staff through enhanced training and education, and also to federal agencies, stakeholders, cooperatives, state and local agencies, and other countries.

Updating the Attending Veterinarian Webpage and Hosting Webinars
Attending veterinarians are vital to the success of facilities that are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). To better assist them, we are hosting two webinars to help attending veterinarians stay up to date with the latest AC resources and information, including veterinary care requirements under the new Licensing Rule. The webinar “Attending Veterinarians at Breeder Facilities: What You Need To Know” will be offered on July 14th and the webinar “Attending Veterinarians at Research and Exhibitor Facilities: What You Need To Know” will be held on July 15th. For more information or to RSVP for one or both of these webinars, please visit: What All Attending Veterinarians Need To Know (Canines*), July 14, 2021, 6pm EDT: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4119042552062837005, or What All Attending Veterinarians Need To Know (General), July 15, 2021, 6pm EDT:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6791902542628979723

Official Warning Notice, APHIS Form 7060
On June 1st, AC resumed issuance of APHIS Form 7060, which is an official warning of an alleged violation of the AWA and notice to a facility that the Agency may seek civil or criminal penalties for the alleged violation in the future if the licensee violates the law again. AC used the Official Warning successfully for many years to advise licensees and registrants of areas of non-compliance. After some legal and administrative analysis we have determined that we can resume using this important compliance tool. A 7060 may be issued by AC (non-investigated) or by APHIS’ Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) unit (investigated) after completing an investigation of a facility for failure to comply with the AWA. Since a 7060 does not constitute an actual finding of violation, there is no right of appeal. However, the licensee still retains their right to appeal any inspection report within 21 days of issuance and a 7060 will not be issued prior to the expiration of the inspection report appeal period.

Announcing the Director of the National Policy Staff:
AC is excited to announce the selection of Dr. Lance Bassage as the Director of AC’s National Policy Staff (NPS). Dr. Bassage comes to AC after 7 years leading a high-volume import-export Service Center in APHIS-Veterinary Services, and a prior career as a board-certified veterinary surgeon. Dr. Bassage will be responsible for managing the NPS unit, which is comprised of 4 senior Veterinary Medical Officers with specialization and expertise in the following areas: marine mammals and exotic species, zoos and zoological animals, research animals, and avian species (birds). Three of these 4 positions have just recently been filled with new additions to the staff. The NPS is a dynamic unit that plays a central role in improving animal welfare through the development of new or revised regulations to protect all species covered by the AWA and Horse Protection Act. This is achieved through collaboration with other federal agencies and stakeholder groups and Congress, and assuring program compliance with federal laws, regulations, and guidelines. Dr. Bassage is excited to lead this energized unit of dedicated experts, who are passionate about animals and animal welfare.

Upcoming Regulatory Actions
We are in the process of developing and/or finalizing two regulatory actions. First, we are developing the proposed regulations for birds. Listening sessions held in late summer and fall of 2020 have helped inform our development of the proposed rule. Further details, including transcripts of the listening sessions, are available on our website. We are also working to issue a proposed rule that would lift the stay on the rule requiring licensed facilities to have contingency plans. Lifting of the stay (and some proposed revisions) will better ensure that entities responsible for animals regulated under the AWA are prepared to safeguard the health and welfare of such animals in the event of possible emergencies or disasters. As always, the public will have the opportunity to comment on each proposal when they’re published. AC will share information when the rules are published.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in APHIS’ AC program. We look forward to continuing our shared work of protecting animal welfare in the United States.

Sincerely,
Dr. Betty Goldentyer
Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Animal Care program



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