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Associated Dog Clubs of New York State, Inc. v. Vilsack

75 F. Supp. 3d 83 (2014)

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Associated Dog Clubs of New York State, Inc. v. Vilsack

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

75 F. Supp. 3d 83 (2014)

Facts

In 1966, Congress enacted the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which mandated that animal dealers be licensed and were subject to certain animal-welfare requirements. The AWA provided that retail pet stores were exempt from the animal-dealer requirements and authorized the Department of Agriculture (department) with the authority to define the term retail pet stores. In 1971, the department promulgated a regulation defining retail pet stores as stores in which animals were solely sold as pets. In 2010, the department issued a notice of a proposed rule redefining retail pet stores as physical stores in which animals were sold as pets. The proposed rule was in response to the growing number of unregulated online pet sellers and an investigation revealing that many animals sold online were ill and injured. By 2013, the notice-and-comment rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act commenced. The department promulgated the new rule redefining retail pet stores. The rule provided a de minimis exception, under which online pet sellers who had fewer than five breeding animals were exempt from the animal-dealer requirements. In 2014, Congress amended the AWA to change the de minimis exception but left the definition of retail pet stores unchanged. Multiple animal breeders, known collectively as the Associated Dog Clubs of New York State, Inc. (Dog Club) (plaintiff) sued the department’s secretary, Tom Vilsack (defendant). The Dog Club claimed that the department had exceeded its authority by changing the well-established definition of retail pet store and forming a new definition that was arbitrary and capricious. The Dog Club also argued that the District of Columbia Circuit had found that the previous definition of retail pet store was reasonable. The Dog Club filed for summary judgment. Vilsack and the Humane Society, which intervened as a defendant in the suit, also filed summary-judgment motions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cooper, J.)

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