|Year in Review: Legislative Highlights from 2005
CALIFORNIA –AB418, a bill to ban ear cropping,
remains in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File, a notorious graveyard
for contentious bills. Hard-working fanciers mounted a massive opposition
effort to defeat this bill, with support from AKC. There is a chance
the bill could be released from the Suspense File next year, so fanciers
should continue to monitor this issue closely in 2006.
- SB 914 was signed into law. The legislation makes
it a misdemeanor to sell, give away or transfer any dog under 8 weeks
of age without the written approval of a veterinarian. Violations are
considered a misdemeanor crime of animal cruelty.
- Asm. Levine’s AB1428 failed passage in the
Assembly Business and Professions Committee, but has been granted reconsideration,
meaning that the bill may be heard again in 2006. The bill would establish
the Cloned and Genetically Modified Pet Consumer Protection Act and
prohibit the sale of cloned or genetically altered animals in California.
Violators would be fined $500,000.
- Despite months of strong opposition from countless responsible California
dog owners and a host of animal organizations including the American
Kennel Club, the Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs and The Animal Council,
Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB861 into law on Friday,
October 7th. The legislation takes effect January 1st, 2006 and will
allow local governments to enact mandatory spay/neuter of specific breeds.
Several municipalities have already indicated their intent to move forward
with mandatory spay/neuter requirements for certain breeds. Fanciers
are encouraged to monitor their local governments and notify the Canine
Legislation department if a proposal is introduced.
- Shortly after SB861 was signed, the San Francisco
Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a breed-specific ordinance
that will require "pit bull" owners in the city and county
to spay or neuter their dogs unless they obtain a $100 breeding permit.
The legislation defines "pit bulls" as American Pit Bull Terriers,
American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and any
dog displaying the physical traits of these breeds. Fines for failing
to comply range from $100 to $1000 and can, on the second offense, include
six months in county jail. The ordinance was passed despite strong opposition
from AKC, other animal interest groups, and responsible dog owners.
COLORADO - A district judge upheld Denver’s
home-rule authority to ban “pit bulls” from the city, and
the state Attorney General has announced he will not appeal the ruling.
After HB1279 became law in 2004, prohibiting breed-specific
ordinances, dog owners were hopeful that Denver’s ban would be
overturned. The City of Denver sued the state and won, claiming it had
the right to regulate animals within their boundaries. The city resumed
enforcement of the ban May 9th, and hundreds of dogs have been collected
and in some cases euthanized. Under the ordinance, a “pit bull”
is defined as an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire
Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog displaying the majority
of the physical traits of these breeds.
FLORIDA - Palm Beach County continues to consider
numerous changes to its existing animal control ordinance. First, the
definition of “hobby breeder” has been revised to limit
these breeders to 2 litters or less annually. Anyone who sells more
than 2 litters per year will be defined as a “pet dealer”
and required to comply with excessive regulations that significantly
expand the state pet dealer law. The proposal also allows for inspections
without a warrant, mandates microchipping and makes a host of other
changes. Helped is needed to oppose this measure as it is currently
written. For additional information about Palm Beach, please contact
Pat Wener or Florida
- A proposed rewrite of the Orange County animal control ordinance
affects many areas of dog ownership. First, it establishes a “pet
dealer,” defined as anyone who engages in the sale of more than
2 litters or twenty dogs per year. Although the definition is consistent
with state law, in Orange County this classification will require compliance
with added registration requirements and inspections. It will also require
that any time an animal is left alone there be an emergency contact
available. The county is also extensively rewriting their dangerous
dog ordinance. Area fanciers are concerned about the lack of an exemption
for dogs that have been provoked, as well as a vaguely defined process
for designating an animal dangerous. For additional information contact
the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs.
GEORGIA – The Georgia Canine Coalition, working
with AKC and local fanciers, convinced Rep. Williams to withdraw his
support of H78, a bill that would have prohibited ownership
of “pit bulls.” The bill defined “pit bulls”
as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or
any dog displaying a majority of traits of those breeds. For more information
on any of the above bills, contact the Georgia
ILLINOIS – Concerned dog owners in Illinois
faced several rounds of breed-specific legislation in 2005. In March,
Sen. Sandoval’s office told AKC and the Illinois Dog Clubs and
Breeders Association that the Senator had reconsidered his position
on SB1790 and would no longer support the bill, which
would have automatically deemed the following breeds dangerous dogs,
regardless of any prior aggressive behavior: “pit bull,”
Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman
Pinscher, Chow Chow, Great Dane, St. Bernard and Akita. The onerous
bill would have further required owners of these breeds to spay or neuter
their pets, obtain expensive insurance and affix a dangerous dog tag
to the dog’s collar. In the wake of recent dog attacks in Illinois,
however, Sen. Sandoval has stated his desire to take up SB1790
once again. Fanciers are encouraged to carefully monitor this bill and
watch AKC’s website for updates.
- Also in March, Rep. Mitchell’s HB1128, which
would have rescinded the current prohibition on local governments to
regulate animals by breed, was defeated 9-6 in the House Agriculture
Committee. AKC sent a letter of opposition to Rep. Mitchell and worked
with the Illinois Dog Clubs and Breeders Association to defeat this
version of the bill.
- HB315 was signed by Gov. Blagojevich. The new law
requires municipalities to impose dog and cat registration fees with
a minimum differential of $10 for intact animals. $10 of the differential
must be put toward animal population control. HB315
also imposes several new public safety fines--ranging from $25-$100--for
allowing a dog to run at large or bite. Portions of these fines must
also be donated to the state's pet population control programs. The
measure further strengthens Illinois's dangerous dog law, and also creates
a “Pet Population Control Fund” check off on state income
tax forms. The law does remove an existing litter registration requirement.
To get involved in legislative issues in Illinois, please contact the
Illinois Dog Clubs and Breeders
MASSACHUSETTS – Massachusetts fanciers defeated
Rep. Paul Kujawski’s H1346, a bill that would
have defined a "commercial breeder" as anyone who bred and
sold more than one litter per year. Fanciers successfully defeated similar
bills by Rep. Kujawski in 2003 and 2004. AKC congratulates the Massachusetts
Federation of Dog Clubs and all fanciers who have consistently worked
to oppose these measures.
- The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture issued new emergency
regulations concerning the importation of animals into the state by
rescue groups and shelters. The new regulations include additional record
keeping requirements for rescue groups and shelters, as well as requirements
that imported animals be quarantined for 48 hours and provided a veterinary
exam after the quarantine period is over. Rescue groups and shelters
will also be required to register with the state.
For more information, contact the Massachusetts
Federation of Dog Clubs.
NEW MEXICO – Despite opposition from AKC and
concerned fanciers Senator Grubesic’s SB432 passed
both houses and was signed by Governor Richardson. Similar legislation,
HB400, died when the Legislature adjourned in March.
Although SB432 does not target certain breeds, its
vague definitions and the broad authority it grants animal control officers
leave dog owners vulnerable to prosecution.
- Sen. Beffort’s SB188, which would have put
harsh limitations on the ownership of “pit bulls” and declared
Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, American or “Old Country” Bull
Dogs, Boxers, Presa Canarios, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, German
Shepherds, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies and wolf-hybrids
to be dangerous dogs, died at the close of session.
NORTH CAROLINA – The Charlotte City Council
voted to strengthen the city’s dangerous dog law. The new law
provides that animal control officers may now spay or neuter dogs that
are deemed dangerous. It also allows for the doubling of animal-related
fines more than 30 days overdue. Pet owners may now only keep two dogs
or cats outside without obtaining a permit.
- AKC worked with the North Carolina Coonhunters Association as they
assisted Wilson County in revising its animal control ordinance. The
initial draft contained vague definitions and weak dangerous dog provisions.
Local dog owners worked with officials to write a more precise, enforceable
ordinance. AKC provided input, model legislation and materials.
OHIO - H189, a bill to repeal Ohio’s
current breed-specific law which lists “pit bulls” as inherently
vicious dogs, will carry-over to the 2006 session. The bill also expands
hearing rights for those whose dogs have been declared vicious or dangerous.
H189 does provide additional remedies for dangerous
dogs including mandatory muzzling anytime the dog is off the owner’s
property and a limit of one dangerous dog per household. The bill is
currently with the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
For more information on pending legislation in Ohio please contact
the Ohio Valley Dog Owners
or Canine Friends of Cleveland.
OKLAHOMA – With the defeat of both S247
and H1282, hard working fanciers convinced Sen. Reynolds
and Rep. Liebmann to abandon attempts to allow local governments to
enact breed-specific legislation. However, in the wake of recent dog
attacks, Rep. Wesselhoff has stated his intention to introduce a proposal
in 2006 that would allow passage of breed-specific ordinances. Concerned
dog owners are therefore encouraged to monitor the legislature closely
when session begins in February.
OREGON – Senator Deckert’s S844
was signed by Governor Kulongoski. The legislation creates a strong
dangerous dog law that punishes irresponsible owners while preserving
due process. It also contains an exemption for dogs that have been provoked
or assaulted, or that have defended their owner’s property from
trespassers. S844 originally contained breed-specific
provisions, but area fanciers participated in a task force to help make
the measure more reasonable after it received a great deal of opposition
from AKC and other animal organizations.
TEXAS – Rep. Edwards’s HB1096
failed to pass out of the legislature prior to adjournment and is dead.
However, fanciers should be aware that as a result of their hard work
the bill was amended to remove the clause which would have exempted
Houston from the state prohibition on breed-specific legislation. The
penalties provided for in the bill were also reduced. The bill still
required that all dogs be kept in a secure, locked enclosure, or on
a leash under the owner’s control at all times, regardless of
whether the dog was determined to be dangerous. An exemption was included
for those participating in organized canine sport or organized search
and rescue effort. Congratulations to all who helped on this issue!
- HB326 by Rep. Goodman and its companion SB172
by Senator Harris both died at the close of session. The bills would
have amended the state's cruelty law in several ways that fanciers believed
could negatively impact hunters.
For more information on the above bills, contact the Responsible
Pet Owners Alliance.
VIRGINIA – Due to the efforts of the Virginia
Federation of Dog Clubs, the AKC, and local dog owners, Del. Kilgore’s
H2927 was removed from the docket in February. The
bill would have required "releasing agencies" to sterilize
and microchip all animals prior to adoption. Releasing agencies were
defined animal shelters, rescue groups, dealers, pet stores, and "for-profit
breeders." Responsible hobby breeders who sold any animals to the
public - regardless of whether they truly made money or even recouped
veterinary expenses - would likely have been considered for-profit.
VERMONT – S66 was signed into
law by Governor Douglas. The law established a committee to study the
sale and exchange of animals in the state, with a view toward additional
regulation. Fanciers worked with Senator Campbell, author of S66,
to defeat the initial version of the bill, which would have defined
any person that sold or donated animals as a pet merchant. Members of
the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs have participated in the study committee
and are continuing to press for changes that will not unfairly punish
responsible hobby breeders. For more information contact the Vermont
Federation of Dog Clubs.
WASHINGTON - Rep. Campbell’s H1016,
which prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners
based on the breed of dog they own, failed to pass the Senate prior
to adjournment, however it can be voted on when the session resumes
in January. The American Kennel Club supports this bill and urges dog
owners to contact their state representative and ask them to vote “Yes”