USDA proposes end to acclimation certificates

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The Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has proposed amending Animal Welfare Act regulations regarding transportation of live animals other than marine mammals by removing ambient temperature requirements for various stages in the transportation of those animals.

If approved, the amendment would make acclimation certificates for live animals other than marine mammals unnecessary. The amendment also replaces a previously published proposed rule, which is being withdrawn, that would have required the acclimation certificate for a dog or cat to be signed by the owner of the dog or cat being transported rather than by a veterinarian.

The USDA-APHIS wants to adopt a single performance standard under which a carrier would consider all climatic and environmental conditions—alone and in combination—to eliminate unnecessary discomfort and stress. Among the conditions that would be considered are temperature, humidity, exposure, ventilation, pressurization, and travel and holding times.

The proposal appears in the Jan. 3 Federal Register. For a PDF of the APHIS proposal, go to, and in the Quick Search, type acclimation certificates, page 413.

"For many years, the AVMA has pursued efforts to ease the difficulties for veterinarians created by the acclimation certificate requirement, so we are pleased that this proposal has been issued," said Dr. Rosemary J. LoGiudice, director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division.

As it stands now, ambient temperatures must be maintained within certain ranges during transportation. Animals may be transported, however, at ambient temperatures below the minimum temperatures if their consignor provides a certificate signed by a veterinarian certifying that the animals are acclimated to temperatures lower than the minimum temperature.

Marine mammals are not addressed because of their unique requirements for care and handling.

According to APHIS, the amendment would remove potentially confusing temperature requirements and acclimation certificate provisions from the regulations governing the transportation of animals and focus those regulations on ensuring that climatic and environmental conditions are maintained appropriately during transportation of animals.

The AVMA will likely comment on the proposed amendment, which is on the February meeting agenda for the Council on Veterinary Service. The Association's recently revised policy on acclimation certificates is available at More on the certificates and the AVMA policy is online.

The USDA-APHIS will consider all comments on the proposal received by March 3, 2008. To submit comments electronically, visit and enter "APHIS-2006-0150" in the Comment or Submission box. Comments may also be submitted via mail to Docket No. APHIS-99-014-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.