By November 2020 in the year of Covid-19, it was no surprise or even disappointment the historic San Francisco Macy’s holiday pet adoption windows could not be done as usual on the crowded downtown sidewalks. News reports explained that the San Francisco SPCA “has opted to place digital screens within the windows that will display pre-shot videos of rescue animals and SF SPCA shelter alumni.”

As the weeks have passed and Covid-19 data surged to the point of additional restrictions on businesses and individuals, even the memory of the crowds of past years around those windows seems to have been reckless exposure even for colds and flu. And this year, demand for shelter pets has been high as the those working and sheltering at home sought new or first time pets in unprecedented numbers. Our local veterinary practices have been overwhelmed with these new clients and patients as practices struggled to meet safety restrictions placed on them by health departments. These are particularly discouraging to breeders.

Remembering the windows of years past including the Great Danes:

and reminding readers we have posts for many past years, enter “Holiday adoption windows” in the search box to find these back to 2008.

THE COW PALACE 2019: TAC’S Golden Gate Kennel Club Scrapbook


Back again at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California where so much has changed but enough remains the same to want to hold on to a little of what had been so much bigger for so many years. The animal rights picketers are gone.  The “No Pets” sign seems even bigger. But inside, the tables to sign up for a drawing are gone and replaced with security guards checking bags and enforcing prohibited items, some of which we would bring with us. Now, we are merely part of a public gate at an arena event where there is no comfort for the fancier community despite the familiar setting and the presence of American Kennel Club events.

Once inside, much does seem the same — the AKC table and the obedience ring at the nearest end of the arena if you arrive in time to see the few entries and around to east end of the concourse, the club office with Mrs. Bobbitt at the counter.

For Dalmatians at the Cow Palace, this was the end of a long era on the bench and the main arena. Under judge Mrs. Keke Kahn, Best of Breed from Veteran Bitches was GCHB DRIFTWOOD WINK AND A SMILE CDX GN BN RM RAE2 SWN SHDN owned by Kathryn Blink & Paula Johnson.

Walking the benches, there were some clever displays and familiar faces even if fewer of them.

And there were lots of vendors, although none in the lower buildings anymore and fewer that we know.

Two new vendors really stood out. California Home and Garden with its fabulous hand forged metal work including the giant rooster at $1200+ and Mishka Luxury Dog Treats that looked like a high end bakery for humans:

And a few breed club and rescue tables on the outer walls of the North and South Halls:

San Francisco Sheriff had a booth, too.

SF Sheriff

There were some crowded spots:

But lots of empty spaces, too; dogs supposed to use indoor “exercise” areas.

Properly presented service dogs did attend.

That’s a wrap for 2019. The main parking lot was full on Saturday afternoon with overflow from mid-morning in the upper lot.

What about 2020?





























Friday afternoon, December 20, 2019 was this year’s visit to the historic San Francisco SPCA’s holiday adoption windows at the downtown Macy’s at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell streets. The underground rail construction on Stockton Street has been finished with one way southbound traffic instead of the festive, turf-covered park-like closed street of recent years, and the former Macy’s men’s store across the street is under reconstruction. The adoption windows had only kittens and rabbits, no dogs or pizazz unless lots of red jacketed cash-box holders count. They were very active moving the collected cash donations to inside security at the usual operation area near the first floor elevators.

The big corner window recycled last year’s materials with the department store theme.

The adoption windows started on the Stockton Street side with the bunny windows and around the corner to O’Farrell Street for the cat windows.

Macy's 2019 kitty windowMacy's 2019 black kitty window O'FarrellMacy's 2019 kitty window O'Farrell stMacy's 2019 kitty window 1

The inside desk and holding room near the first floor elevators as usual.

The adoption count.

Macy's 2019 125 loving homes 4 mp

The fun place this year was over on Grant Avenue where the City had closed a block for this year’s green spot of food trucks and open space, best viewed from the east side to include the “wildlife” in lights in Cartier’s window or from the west side for a close up of the car from the Academy of Art University’s Auto Museum.

Macy's 2019 Grant Avenue - Cartier windowMacy's 2019 Grant St car 2 mp

The only dogs in Macy’s were small ones wearing lovely coats and on leash accompanying well-heeled looking tourists. For now, we just report the absence or low profile of dogs from the the holiday adoption outreach scene this year, 2019, the final year of the decade. Time will tell whether this will be a trend or expectation.










Prior years:  2018  2017   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008















Holiday Adoptions: Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA at Hillsdale Mall!

Twenty nine years ago this month, December 1990, we were locked in what felt like a battle for a way of life with Peninsula Humane Society the leading antagonist. That particular legislative fight over mandatory sterilization and breeding regulation ended in a diminished stalemate here but persists around the country, often with the exact same proposals. One of our responses then was to study and advocate changes in shelter and adoption statistics and policies. We first met derision and rejection. That faded over time as PHS claimed success after success, not from coercive laws but reforming their own practices. Rather than warn the public not to get new pets over the holidays, this year, they are using the reality of the season’s quiet downtime being ideal for many people to find a new pet. The now glitzy, high end Hillsdale Mall is the site!

PHS Hillsdale adopt a pet 2019

They have a great pop-up location across from the Mall’s signature statue of a black cat!

Hillsdale Black Cat

PHS had a tempting stage-like window as well as a seasonally decorated one.

At the time of our visit, they had only 4 black kittens, litter mates, available for adoption but attracting lots of attention. Besides, there was merchandise and information.

PHS Hillsdale 2019 indoor sign - merch

Visitors were anxious to see the “adoptable” dog that we never saw.

PHS Hillsdale 2019 adoptable dog crate

The black kittens were the center of attention.

PHS Hillsdale 2019 black kittens

The Animal Council hopes this will become an annual and successful holiday event. It’s open Fridays through Sundays, 11-7 through Sunday, December 29. Hillsdale Mall is in the city of San Mateo, between I-101 and I-280 south of  I-92 on El Camino Real.

PHS Hillsdale 2019 Hillsdale dec window

























THE COW PALACE 2018: TAC’S Golden Gate Kennel Club Scrapbook


Sixty years later…

Still at the aging Cow Palace (Daly City, California) with its own years’ of history and memories, a recent outbreak of a virulent canine influenza, reportedly brought to the United States  by “Korean meat dogs” imported for rescue lent a nervous air.

The benches feel like nothing has changed…except there are many fewer, but the sight of the decorations, the dogs and old friends brings anticipation for another year, coming up soon.

Next, check out the vendors — not that many nor exciting and all were in the main building, but it’s important to seek out each one and then double back in case any were missed, although went home empty-handed this year.

Not too many, but some information tables, all in the main building now.

Saturday morning, people and a few interesting dogs walking around but no crowds.

Down at the end of the main building are the Show office with Mrs. Jeanne Bobbitt at the counter, the Information Table and over by the loading entrance, a few odd tables and chairs should anyone want to sit down for a visit, some business or break.

Yes, it’s a dog show so check out some judging. The expanse of bright blue carpet in the main arena obscures the few exhibitors in or around the rings or stands and almost no knowledgeable spectators. Many breeds were benched in the lower buildings, but there was little judging to see there.

The American Kennel Club booth was front and center in the main building as it has been in recent years — one final check before leaving for 2018.

akc booth

Back in 2019? Probably.






















A cloudy, pre-rain Friday afternoon, December 14, 2018 was this year’s visit to the historic San Francisco SPCA’s holiday adoption windows at the downtown Macy’s where holiday marketing meets adoption outreach on the prime retail corner of Stockton and O’Farrell streets. The big corner window had an entirely new design this year, the adoption windows’ occupants were quiet and the adoption count stood at 149.

2018 adoption count

This year’s corner window theme was a dollhouse view of a whimsical fantasy snowy scene with a 3-sided look into an imaginary Macy’s with animal customers and staff, more animals outside in the snow and a small view of the Golden Gate Bridge over the rooftops that appear to include homes (nowhere near Macys, but it’s all imagination or a mid-winter’s night dream…) And we say “animals” because most appear to be wild species other than a skating cat. Perhaps a Christmas story to tell.


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The adoption windows were plain with mostly resting cats and one window of 2 very young puppies that appeared to be litter mates of undetermined background.


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Outside, there were SFSPCA staff with cash donation boxes a plenty.

2018 volunteer street

This year, the adoption center was back to a low key presence on the first floor with a small transaction table and the backroom with additional animals and staff.


There was no additional presence inside the store as in 2017, and a trip to the holiday department on the 6th floor this year was not impressive despite a purchase of 2 of the 3 dog ornaments in stock – all ornaments were 65% off and but seemed to lack the appeal of the 2017 selection. There were some very strange bird ornaments with long feathers – not suitable for homes with cats — as well as rather large wildlife, just right for someone.


This was the fourth year of underground transit construction with Stockton Street becoming turfed with a holiday street fair atmosphere with end on end food trucks, a SFPD presence and then Union Square with its large tree and seasonal ice rink to mark the occasion.


And for some real bling, right next door to Macys is the beautiful Louis Vuitton window, and across the street on the first floor of Neiman Marcus is the historic rotunda preserved from the former department store on the site, the City of Paris, where there has always been a giant tree to visit year after year.


Prior years:  2017   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008

***** THE END *****

APHIS Final Rule, June 2018, De Minimis Activity: Revised Licensing Exemption Comparisons, Subpart A – Licensing §2.1(3)(iii) and (vii)

Supplementing our June 15, 2018 post that detailed recent revisions to three key definitions in the Animal Welfare Regulations, this post provides a comparison of changes to two key exemptions to reflect the new agency analysis of the amendment to Animal Welfare Act in the 2014 Farm Bill. Linked here is a comparison table with two columns. On the left side is the prior version with strike-through formatting of deleted language; on the right side is the revised version with underscored new language.

De minimis Exemption Revisions Language Comparisons  (PDF)

NEW 7/21/18      De Minimis Activity Revised Definition Comparisons   (PDF)

While the specific terms, “dogs” and “cats” in exemption (iii) and “dog or cat fanciers” in (vii) have been removed, licensing considerations remain the same as in effect since late 2013 for dog and cat breeders but are only covered under exemption (iii) as now called “hobby dealers” by APHIS while exemption (vii) describes “hobby exhibitors.” For more information on APHIS’s new terminology, see their new publication, “Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act Guidelines for Dealers, Exhibitors, Transporters, and Researchers” (URL modified by APHIS, 8/10/18) published on May 25, 2018 in anticipation of publication of the new Final Rule.

Remember that “retail pet stores” are expressly excluded from licensing under the statute, AWA, and are defined in the definitions in Part 1 of the Animal Welfare Regulations and not in the exemptions but simply stated in § 2.1(a)(3) “(i) Retail pet stores as defined in part 1 of this subchapter;” with the details incorporated by reference so that the current exemption authorized by the retail pet store exclusion covers the exclusive face-to-face sales issue, so that dog or cat breeders who do not qualify for the hobby dealer (iii) exemption may still qualify for exemption from dealer licensing by restricting all sales to face-to-face under exemption (i.)



APHIS Final Rule, June 2018, De Minimis Activity: Revised Definition Comparisons

As noted in the June 4 post, the new APHIS De Minimis Rule revised three definitions from the Animal Welfare Act’s regulations to reflect the new analysis of the amendment to AWA in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The chart below compares the revisions to definitions of Dealer, Exhibitor and Retail pet store, strike-through of deletions, underscore of additions. The APHIS analysis presumes that an activity determined to be “de minimis” presents a sufficiently low risk to covered animals that it can be safely exempted from licensing so that limited Agency resources focus on higher risk activities.

NEW 7/21/18  Final Rule June 2018 – revised definitions chart (PDF)

ANIMAL WELFARE REGULATIONS, PART 1 – DEFINITION OF TERMS, Authority: 7 U.S.C. 2131-2159; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.7 – § 1.1 – Definitions.

Comparison - Final Rule Dealer Jun 2018






Comparison - Final Rule Exhibitor - June 2018

Comparison - Final Rule Retail Pet Store - Jun 2018












APHIS NEW FINAL RULE: Thresholds for De Minimis Activity and Exemptions From Licensing Under the Animal Welfare Act, Effective June 4, 2018

On December 24, 2016, we published an analysis of the rulemaking notice for this Docket and have now updated that entry with some comments about the Final Rule.

The Final Rule details each revision to the original proposed changes as well as commenter’s concerns for which no change was made. While it is important to carefully study the Final Rule, these are the important things to know. There are now specific licensing exemptions for those with qualifying facts involving small exotic or wild mammals and/or domesticated farm-type animals.

In making these revisions, APHIS made minor changes to three (3) important definitions in the regulations, i.e. changes in language that are now in effect but may not be reflected in versions of the Code of Regulations for some time. These are “Dealer,” “Exhibitor” and “Retail pet store.” Should the need arise to quote or otherwise reference the Animal Welfare Act regulations, the revised definitions should be referenced and cited accordingly. For convenience, these revisions follow:

Part 1 Definition of Terms

Regulatory Text

The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

7 U.S.C. 2131-2159; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.7.

2. Section 1.1 is amended by revising the definitions of Dealer, Exhibitor, and Retail pet store to read as follows:
1.1 Definitions.
* * * * *

Dealer means any person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit, delivers for transportation, or transports, except as a carrier, buys, or sells, or negotiates the purchase or sale of: Any dog or other animal whether alive or dead (including unborn animals, organs, limbs, blood, serum, or other parts) for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, exhibition, or use as a pet; or any dog at the wholesale level for hunting, security, or breeding purposes. This term does not include: A retail pet store, as defined in this section; and any retail outlet where dogs are sold for hunting, breeding, or security purposes.

* * * * *

Exhibitor means any person (public or private) exhibiting any animals, which were purchased in commerce or the intended distribution of which affects commerce, or will affect commerce, to the public for compensation, as determined by the Secretary. This term includes carnivals, circuses, animal acts, zoos, and educational exhibits, exhibiting such animals whether operated for profit or not. This term excludes retail pet stores, horse and dog races, an owner of a common, domesticated household pet who derives less than a substantial portion of income from a nonprimary source (as determined by the Secretary) for exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at the residence of the pet owner, organizations sponsoring and all persons participating in State and country fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, field trials, coursing events, purebred dog and cat shows, and any other fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences, as may be determined by the Secretary.

* * * * *

Retail pet store means a place of business or residence at which the seller, buyer, and the animal available for sale are physically present so that every buyer may personally observe the animal prior to purchasing and/or taking custody of that animal after purchase, and where only the following animals are sold or offered for sale, at retail, for use as pets: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchillas, domesticated ferrets, domesticated farm-type animals, birds, and coldblooded species. Such definition excludes—

(1) Establishments or persons who deal in dogs used for hunting, security, or breeding purposes;

(2) Establishments or persons exhibiting, selling, or offering to exhibit or sell any wild or exotic or other nonpet species of warmblooded animals (except birds), such as skunks, raccoons, nonhuman primates, squirrels, ocelots, foxes, coyotes, etc.;

(3) Any establishment or person selling warmblooded animals (except birds, and laboratory rats and mice) for research or exhibition purposes;

(4) Any establishment wholesaling any animals (except birds, rats, and mice); and

(5) Any establishment exhibiting pet animals in a room that is separate from or adjacent to the retail pet store, or in an outside area, or anywhere off the retail pet store premises.

The Animal Welfare Act and Rescue: Protecting Dogs “In Commerce”

During the summer of 2005, Federal Senate Bill 1139 by then Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA,) co-sponsors Richard Durbin (D-IL,) and Arlen Spector (R-PA) shorthand, “PAWS” the Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005 to amend the Animal Welfare Act set usual allies against one another with its flawed provisions and eventually died of its own lack of merit. In the process of analysis, it was clear that the Animal Welfare Act includes nonprofit operators, although this had never been a focus of enforcement when most of this activity was small-scale and local. However, some of our associates urged us to publish information about this issue which we did in UPDATE: PAWS BILL RESCUE ISSUE, CA SB 861, July 10, 2005. We were lambasted as others tried, unconvincingly, to develop legal arguments that AWA did not apply to nonprofits.

This week, USDA-APHIS published a “Tech Note” — Questions and Answers: Activities with Dogs Requiring a USDA License/Registration — that refers to “adoption” scenarios requiring licensing. These were also discussed during the 2015 implementation of the Retail Pet Store Rule, so that the questions are not whether AWA covers rescue but under what facts and circumstances – just as breeders and others must analyze their own situations. Either adjust operations for exemption or license. The rationale for exemptions are based on lower risks to animals in commerce; without these, licensing protects animal with oversight.

For review, The Animal Council’s Update, July 10, 2005:

PAWS AND “RESCUE” ISSUES have inspired claims by proponents that AWA only covers “commerce” in a business sense and would exclude non-profit rescue organizations. Rather, the word “commerce” in federal law relates to the federal power to regulate commerce under the United States Constitution Commerce Clause Article I, §8, of the Constitution “[t]o make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” its authority to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States.” The term “commerce” was included in AWA in the 1970 amendments to provide jurisdiction within states as long as an activity had some impact on interstate commerce so that there would be no requirement that animals cross state lines. Historically the Commerce Clause has been broadly interpreted by the Supreme Court as to what has impact on interstate commerce, because this concept enables use of the federal government’s police power. The Supreme Court June 6, 2005 decision in the medical marijuana case, Gonzales, Attorney General, Et Al. V. Raich Et Al.  provides a current reference on the broad judicial interpretation of “commerce” for federal purposes. The Court noted that even “Congress’ power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic “class of activities” that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce is firmly established.” Such activities need not be conducted as a profit-making business.

COMMERCE INCLUDES RESCUE since animals transferred in rescue transactions are a significant portion of the total market for animals. Rescue animals are particularly involved with the alleged reasons for PAWS, i.e. use of the internet and imports as well as frequent interstate transport and sales of animals from undocumented sources and unregulated standards of care often involving large numbers of animals. There are no convincing policy reasons to exclude the rescue sector from inclusion in the PAWS dealer definition except as to those shelters operated under the PAWS pet store definition and thus excluded as dealers. The additional wording in the dealer definition, i.e. “dealer” means any person who, in commerce, for COMPENSATION OR PROFIT, would only exclude operators who received nothing of tangible value in exchange for placing animals. It is possible to structure rescue placements with no compensation, but many rescue organizations derive significant funding from these charges. Rescue transactions are legally treated as sales unless expressly excluded or treated differently for specific purposes by law, e.g. sales tax, warranties, etc. Note that the “consideration” required for a legally enforceable contract can be only a promise to do or not do something and not money or anything else of monetary value. The purposes of the AWA are to ensure the welfare of animals in commerce, which includes rescue animals, so excluding private rescue from proposed regulation of retail sellers defeats the statutory purpose to protect animals.