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Around the Nation:
Legislation That Affects You
October 2005

CALIFORNIA – Sen. Speier’s SB861, to allow local governments to enact mandatory spay/neuter for specific breeds, is pending before Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor has until October 9th to decide whether to sign or veto the measure. California dog owners who have not already done so should immediately contact the Governor’s office and request a veto. For more information and to find out how you can help, please read our Legislative Alert.

- SB 914, a bill to prohibit the sale of puppies under eight weeks old without written approval of a veterinarian, has passed both houses and is before Governor Schwarzenegger.

- Fresno County has adopted new leash and nuisance laws and will be considering requiring mandatory spay/neuter of animals unless owners pay a breeding fee. AKC has sent a letter to county officials opposing proposed breeding restrictions and urges other local dog owners to do the same. Local fanciers are working with the County Board of Supervisors to address this issue.

- The City of Oakland continues to consider enacting an animal limit law that would limit residents to three dogs. The City Council had been scheduled to vote on the issue in September, but because of a clerical error the vote will now be taken at the October 4th meeting. AKC sent a letter explaining our opposition to limit laws and copies of our “Animal Limit Laws: Better Alternatives” brochures to members of the City Council.

- The City of Simi Valley has modified their current ban on dog and cat breeding. The new ordinance will allow breeders to have two litters a year provided their property is at least 20,000 square feet. Puppies must leave the property by the time they are four months old. Local breeders and city staff members helped draft the new ordinance.

COLORADO – Commerce City has approved an ordinance that would ban new “pit bulls” within the city limits. The ordinance defines “pit bulls” as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or any dog displaying a majority of the physical traits of these breeds. Owners who currently live in Commerce City are required to have the dog microchipped and spayed or neutered. They must also keep their dogs in specifically regulated enclosures, muzzle them in public and carry $100,000 worth of liability insurance. Prior to the measure’s passage, AKC sent a letter of opposition to city officials, along with model dangerous dog legislation that would have been a more reasonable alternative.

- The City of Aurora is continuing to refine a proposal to ban “pit bulls,” and possibly American Bulldogs, Dogo Argentinos, Canary Dogs, Ca De Bous, Tosa Inus and Cane Corso breeds. The ordinance is still being drafted and the definition of “pit bulls” was not available at the time of publication. The ordinance would grandfather in “pit bulls” already living in Aurora, but would require owners to pay a $600 license fee, obtain a $100,000 liability insurance policy, and spay or neuter their dogs. AKC has sent a letter explaining our opposition to breed-specific legislation to city officials, along with model legislation we feel to be reasonable.

CONNECTICUT – The Representative Town Council in Greenwich has approved a new dog park which is expected to open sometime in October. Congratulations to all the dog owners and fanciers who worked to establish this park. AKC has previously written a letter in support of establishing this off-leash park.

FLORIDA - Palm Beach County has adopted changes to their local dangerous dog law. Under current law, the Animal Care and Control Division makes an initial finding about a dog’s behavior which can then be appealed to the Animal Care and Control Hearing Board. The new proposal will require that appeals be made to a “special master.” The qualifications for an individual to be appointed as a special master are not spelled out in the legislation, although the commissioners have said that a county attorney will assume the role when necessary.

- The Village of Tequesta is considering an ordinance to ban “pit bulls.” The move comes after a neighborhood group assembled a petition after a “pit bull” injured another dog. AKC has sent a letter to members of the Village Council opposing breed-specific legislation and reminding them that such an ordinance would contravene Florida’s state dangerous dog law which prohibits breed-specific legislation. For more information about how to get involved, please contact moderatorfloridapetlaw@hotmail.com.

INDIANA – The Indianapolis City-County Council is considering a proposal to deem Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terrier, “pit bull” terriers and any mix of these dogs to be dangerous dogs. Owners would be required to license these dogs and would be limited to owning two “dangerous dogs.” Dangerous dogs are required to be kept in a fenced yard, and the fence must not allow a person to stick their fingers or hand through the fence. The proposal was tabled by the Rules and Public Policy Committee at a meeting in late September, but residents are encouraged to contact their council member in opposition as the proposal will likely be reconsidered at a later date. AKC has sent a letter of opposition and provided materials to local fanciers. To find out how to help oppose this proposal please contact the Hoosier Rottweiler Club.

KENTUCKY – The City of Taylor Mill is still considering adopting new dangerous dog legislation, including possibly restricting or banning “pit bulls.” The commission discussed the subject at its last two meetings, but has not reached a decision. The city has not yet discussed what the definition of “pit bull” would be if they adopted a breed-specific ordinance. AKC sent a letter of opposition to the members of the City Commission and encourages others to do the same.

MARYLAND – Prince George’s County is considering a repeal of its breed-specific ordinance, which bans “pit bulls” - defined as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and any dog exhibiting the physical characteristics of these breeds. The proposal to replace the breed ban with a more reasonable dangerous dog ordinance passed out of the Health, Education and Human Services and is likely to be heard by the full council in October. Concerned fanciers are encouraged to attend an organizational meeting October 12 at 7pm at Riverdale Park Town Hall - 5008 Queensbury Road, Riverdale Park, MD 20737. Please contact the Maryland Federation of Dog Owners for more information.

MASSACHUSETTS – Rep. Fallon has introduced HD 4738, a bill to add “pit bull” to the definition of “mammal” in the state’s fish and game laws. Fanciers are urged to contact the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners for more information.

- HB3650 by Rep. Khan will prohibit shelters from importing dogs from foreign countries and set up strict tracking procedures for shelters which import dogs from shelters in other states. The Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners supports this bill as a way to protect domestic pets from emerging diseases. The bill has been recommended for the Executive Session.

MICHIGAN – Commerce Township is considering a ban on “pit bulls.” The legislation has not yet been drafted, but AKC has sent a letter informing the Township Council of our opposition to breed-specific legislation, and urging them to enforce a generic dangerous dog law. To find out how to help defeat this proposal, contact the Michigan Association for Purebred Dogs.

- The City of Battle Creek has voted to adopt a non-breed-specific dangerous dog ordinance. The initial version would have required that those who own American Stafforshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers or any mix of these breeds to muzzle their dogs when off their property, and would also have required that only an individual over the age of 18 be allowed to walk the dog. AKC sent a statement to city officials opposing breed-specific ordinances, which combined with local dog owners efforts, convinced the council to adopt a fair dangerous dog ordinance. Congratulations to all who helped contribute to this success!

NEW MEXICO – Councilwoman Sally Mayer of Albuquerque is working on a complete rewrite of the city’s animal code, having again postponed a hearing of her HEART ordinance. The current proposal includes a prohibition on chaining or tethering, provisions for intact companion animal permits, and strict requirements for what constitutes proper care of animals. The ordinance also establishes a definition for and regulation of commercial breeder facilities. Commercial breeder facilities are defined as any facilities in any zone other than a residential zone that are used for breeding and care of newborn animals. The measure also establishes limit of 6 companion animals- 4 of the same species - which can be waived if a person obtains a special permit. A person may not maintain more than two intact companion animals of the same species, even with a permit. AKC has been working closely with local fanciers to oppose the measure, but more help is needed. Albuquerque residents should contact their councilmembers today if they have not done so already, and urge them to vote “no” on this measure. For more information, contact the Rio Grande Kennel Club.

NEW YORK - The Village Board of Horseheads is considering a proposal that would deem residents who own more than two dogs, more than two cats, or more than two of each, to be kennels. Those who qualify as a kennel will be required to obtain a free permit, but residents must first get permission from all their neighbors within 200 feet. If a neighbor refuses, the Village Board can review the reason for the refusal and can override the neighbor. The proposal will allow a judge to order fines of $25 to $100 for the first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third offense. AKC has sent a statement of opposition to the board members and encourages residents to do the same.

OKLAHOMA – The City of Moore has instituted a new designation of “vicious or potentially vicious” to their dangerous dog law in the wake of a recent dog attack. The change will allow a municipal judge to find a dog potentially vicious if the city receives reports that a dog has chased someone or appeared ready to attack without provocation. Owners of potentially vicious dogs would be required to obtain $50,000 in liability insurance. Vicious dogs are those who have caused injury to a person or animal, or who have been used in dog fighting. Owners of vicious dogs are required to keep their dogs in specified enclosures, muzzle them when off the owner’s property and post signs alerting visitors to the presence of a vicious dog.

PENNSYLVANIA – Rep. Scavello is sponsoring H1911, a bill that would regulate tethering and dictate the types of runs and shelters dog owners could use. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs opposes the bill.

- H1946, by Rep. Sainato, will expand the puppy lemon law to cover discoveries of illness made within 90 days of purchase. Additionally, the bill will require the seller to refund the purchase price and pay for any incidental expenses the new owner has incurred if the breeder is found to have misrepresented the dog’s pedigree. H1946 was refered to the House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

TEXAS – The City of El Paso is again considering revisions to its animal control ordinance, including a $75 litter permit and a limit of one litter per year. Additionally, the proposal mandates microchipping and allows animal control officers to go door-to-door to enforce provisions of the ordinance. Fanciers are urged to immediately contact their city council members and ask them to request that these sections be removed from the proposal.

- Help is still urgently needed in Austin to fight a proposed mandatory spay/neuter ordinance. Exceptions would be allowed only if the animal is deemed medically unsuited to the procedure, if the animal is kept in Austin less than 30 days in one year, or if the owner purchases a $100 intact animal permit. The proposal also includes a $500 litter permit. The AKC has provided local fanciers with materials and sent a letter of opposition to city officials. Purebred dog owners are working hard, but many more voices are needed. In particular, fanciers are encouraged to urge their council members not to sponsor this ordinance.

Please contact the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance for more information on how you can help in El Paso or Austin.

WISCONSIN – Asm. Pettis is sponsoring A663, a bill to create an exception to the trespass statute for the retrieval of hunting dogs. Hunters would be required not to take their firearms and/or crossbows with them when retrieving their dogs. AKC supports this legislation.

- The City of Sheboygan is considering a fenced dog park as part of its new parks plan. Currently even dogs on-leash are prohibited in city parks.

WYOMING – The City of Cheyenne is considering a proposal to strengthen its dangerous dog law by allowing animal control officers to impound dogs that have bitten another animal or a person. The dog would then undergo behavioral testing. If the animal passes, it will be returned to its owner. If not, a judge will decide the animal’s fate. The council is working on amendments to give animal control officers latitude to decide which animals need to be impounded and to address situations where a dog is defending its property or owner, or when a dog is provoked.

UNITED STATES – Rep. Lantos has introduced HR 3858 to require that state and local emergency preparedness plans address the needs to those with household pets and the needs of those who depend on service animals. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. AKC expects additional bills to come forward to address this issue. We support this concept and will review upcoming legislation to determine official support.

- Rep. Berry’s HR 3677 to temporarily suspend the tax on dog accessories has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

- Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Senator Richard Durban (D-IL) are sponsoring the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS). This legislation (S1139) will bring under coverage of the federal Animal Welfare Act individuals who breed and sell large numbers of dogs, as well as those who import large numbers of dogs for resale. S1139 continues to move through the legislative process with more co-sponsors signing on daily. In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association recently declared its support for the bill. S1139 will be heard in a subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee this fall. (Congress’s focus on Katrina relief efforts and Supreme Court confirmation hearings have delayed the session.) At that time, AKC will work with Senator Santorum and subcommittee members to address concerns that have been raised and to make any necessary clarifications to the bill language. AKC is working to ensure that this legislation protects dogs but also our constituents as well.

AKC has established a PAWS Information Center on our website to provide fanciers with answers to frequently asked questions and access to all documents related to PAWS.