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Measure Extends Pet Owners a Helping Paw

One of the final bills sent to President Barack Obama in 2012 gives a new meaning to the old saying about how legislative dogs and cats tend to fill up the end-of-the-year congressional agenda.

The bill, which the House cleared the afternoon of New Year’s Eve on a voice vote, will give a break to ordinary folks who keep ordinary animals  at home (felines and canines, yes; chimpanzees and tigers, no) but for whatever reason get their pets into TV commercials or movies or otherwise placed temporarily in the public eye.

No longer will they be subject to regulations under a 1996 law that govern animals used for commercial purposes — including minimum standards for their handling, housing and feeding. The Agriculture Department will ultimately get to decide who is the owner of an accidental pet extra and who is the owner of Lassie; advocates of the bill also note that it will exempt from the USDA rules the legions of politicians who use their pets as props in their campaign ads.

“There are many examples across the government of regulatory overreach. While I regret we have not been able to address all those in the 112th Congress, certainly this is one we can agree needs fixing,”  said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark.

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