Having gotten up to my ears in AWA Regulations regarding the Piper travesty, I decided I might as well continue to see if I could understand the regulations as it pertains to canine hobby breeders. If you sell birds or fish or snakes, I have no clue what to tell you. You are on your own. This was tough enough to understand for one small group.
To begin with, there are two major categories, Dealer and Not a Dealer. As you will see both rescues and hobby breeders are considered dealers.
Yes, occasionally hobby breeders sell show and breeding prospect pups, but my best guess on the AWA regulations is that unless you are selling ALL or at least MOST of your dogs for breeding purposes, you can’t get out of the “Dealer” definition.
If you are a breeder that sells mostly GSDs for security or Pointers for hunting, or for reasons other than as a pet, you probably will be able to get away with considering yourself not a dealer but I urge you to dig deeper as there is some conflict as to where those areas lie with AWA. I would definitely think you are a ticking time bomb if you market or have buyers that are mostly looking for companion dogs.
I used direct quotes from the regs and comments and law, so if my interpretation is wacky, you may be able to pick up on it and let me know.
The text in Bold to help pick out the important phrases was mine.
There is some confusion as to how the AWA sees someone selling dogs for hunting, security, or breeding purposes. I have seen those areas listed as both dealer and non-dealer. Since I am not personally involved in those areas, I have no need to probe deeper. For those of you who ARE in that market, more research would be of benefit to you.
APHIS determines the intention of the seller by looking at how the dogs are marketed and gathering information from buyers and local authorities.
In other words, don’t try to fool the Feds if most of your sales are as pets.
If you are NOT A DEALER you can stop reading. You don't have to do anything.
The category of Dealer is further broken down into two subcategories, Licensed and No License Needed. Thankfully, most of the hobby breeder population should fall into the No License Needed group.
The only reason you would really need to be licensed is if you insisted on shipping puppies to buyers. I have had several prospective puppy buyers ask if I would and I’ve had to turn them down. Not worth worrying if it’s some sort of sting operation or AR fanatic trying to stir up trouble.
No records are required of No License breeders. The only way the Feds could nail you is if someone can show you are shipping dogs.
So, if you own more than 4 bitches, sell at least some of them as pets and wish to ship dogs sight unseen, you need a license. And if you have a license and breed your dogs in your home you are opening yourself up to inspections and maintaining areas where the dogs live to whatever standards the AWA regulations may state. If you are exempt, the Feds cannot enter your home (or legally shouldn’t, is maybe more accurate).
“A number of commenters stated that any change to the definition of retail pet store that subjects their homes to possible unannounced government inspections for AWA compliance violates their Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
Section 2146 of the AWA explicitly authorizes inspections of licensees to determine compliance with the AWA. However, such inspections are limited to only those areas that impact the well-being of the animals, such as areas where food and medicine for the animals are stored.”