USDA Seeks Additional Comments Regarding the Handling of Dangerous Animals

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USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is considering whether to revise the Animal Welfare Act regulations governing the handling of (and public contact with) dangerous animals.

In 2012, a coalition of animal advocacy organizations petitioned APHIS to ban all public contact with dangerous animals exhibited under the Animal Welfare Act. The agency published the petition and received more than 15,000 comments. APHIS is now reopening the comment period until August 31, 2016, as it seeks the public’s input on additional questions that will help the agency better determine its course of action.

The questions are included in a notice, which is available for public inspection on the Federal Register page at:

Interested stakeholders can view the questions and submit comments beginning tomorrow at:!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0107

APHIS will host three listening sessions, using these additional questions, in an effort to gather targeted public feedback. The schedule for these sessions and participant information is as follows:

• Wednesday, June 29; 1-3 p.m. (EDT); please register here

• Wednesday, July 6; 1-3 p.m. (EDT); please register here  

• Thursday August 4; 1-3 p.m. (EDT); please register here

You may register for multiple listening sessions, but you must register for each one separately. After registering, you will receive an email containing the call-in number, access code and an identification code specific to each participant. Please do not share your identification code with anyone because this will impede your ability to connect to the listening session.

During the listening sessions, an operator will provide instructions for those participants who wish to speak. We ask that each speaker please limit their comments to three minutes or less. Thank you.

If you have any problems registering (or connecting), please email Dave Sacks at

We have created a webpage to serve as our information hub regarding the feedback we are soliciting on handling dangerous animals. The site, located here, features the eight questions APHIS is asking as well as instructions on registering for the listening sessions. The site will subsequently feature audio recordings and written transcripts of the listening sessions.

Thank you for your interest in animal welfare and your willingness to participate in this process. APHIS will use the public comments it receives as it considers possible actions to protect animals from any potential harm that can result from being handled by humans. Please feel free to share this stakeholder message with anyone you think would be interested in participating.  


At USDA Animal Care, ensuring the welfare of the animals we regulate is at the heart of everything we do.