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Around the Nation:
Legislation That Affects You
September 2005

CALIFORNIA – Sen. Speier’s SB861, to allow local governments to enact mandatory spay/neuter for specific breeds, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate and will now head to Governor Schwarzenegger. Dog owners are encouraged to 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.

- The City of Los Angeles has approved an ordinance that prohibits the tethering of dogs when they are unattended. The ordinance also requires that dogs have access to food, water and shelter. The city has stated that warnings will be given to violators before penalties are assessed.

- The City of Clearlake has rejected a proposed mandatory spay/neuter ordinance, requesting that it be revised and brought back to the council at a later date. The proposal did include exemptions for assistance dogs, working and hunting dogs, as well as dogs that were registered with AKC or another recognized registry.

- In the wake of a tragic dog attack, Fresno County is considering changes to its animal control ordinance, including requiring mandatory spay/neuter of animals unless owners pay a breeding fee, and requiring owners to keep their dogs on a leash unless they are behind a fence. AKC has sent a letter to county officials opposing proposed breeding restrictions and urges other local dog owners to do the same.

- The City of Rohnert Park has approved an ordinance that would allow the owner of a dog that has attacked a person to be charged with a misdemeanor, even for a first offense. The ordinance will also allow a person who fails to keep a potentially dangerous animal secured, to be charged with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a $1,000 maximum fine or up to six months in jail.

COLORADO – Commerce City has approved the first reading of an ordinance that would ban “pit bulls” within the city limits. However, the council has requested some modifications to the original proposal which were not available at the time of publication. Those include how the council will define “pit bull.” The ordinance will come back for a second reading some time in September. AKC has sent a letter of opposition to city officials, along with model dangerous dog legislation.

- The City of Aurora is expected to consider a proposal to ban “pit bulls,” and possibly American Bulldogs, Dogo Argentinos, Canary Dogs, Ca De Bous, Tosa Inus and Cane Corso breeds, within the city limits sometime in October. 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. 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 City of Trumbull has tabled a proposed dangerous dog ordinance in favor of researching the feasibility of a leash law, which the town does not currently have. The city may revisit the issue in September.

FLORIDA – The Sarasota County Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was asked by the Sarasota County Commissioners last year to study the feasibility of enacting breeder licensing/permit/inspection ordinances. The committee voted unanimously to recommend “No” to such ordinances and will be submitting a position paper to the Sheriff and Board of Commissioners next month.

- Palm Beach County has voted to restructure its Animal Care and Control Advisory Board due to the fact that they have been unable to achieve a quorum in several months. The new board will consist of five members representative of agencies or groups involved in animal welfare, including the Sheriff’s office, the Health Department, the Veterinary Society, the Agriculture Department, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. The committee will also include two at-large members of the general public. Further, the restructured Animal Care and Control Advisory Committee will meet quarterly rather than monthly.

Also in Palm Beach County, a public hearing will be held on September 27th to discuss revisions to the local dangerous dog law. Under current laws, 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, and fanciers are encouraged to attend the meeting to ensure that due process is preserved for owners whose dogs are declared dangerous.

- Orange County has passed an ordinance that prohibits tethering of dogs between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The fines can range from $75 to $250 depending on the circumstances. Local fanciers did oppose the bill, advocating instead for better enforcement of existing laws.

- The City of Dania Beach has also approved an ordinance restricting the tethering of dogs. The ordinance would allow a dog to be chained outdoors for only an hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. if supervised by someone at least 15 years old. Tying or chaining a dog outside for training on a treadmill is prohibited completely. Dogs left outside are required to have access to food, water and shelter with ventilation. Violators are subject to fines up to $500 or a maximum of 60 days in jail.

- Hollywood has adopted an ordinance that prohibits leaving dogs tied up between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at all other times requires that the chain be at least six feet long and away from anything it could get tangled in. The city also requires that dogs kept out side have adequate access to food, water and shelter.

GEORGIA – The Georgia Canine Coalition reports that Rep. Williams, the author of this year’s H78, has decided not to pursue breed-specific legislation. H78 would have banned "pit bulls," defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any dogs displaying characteristics of those breeds. Rep. Williams is still considering ways to strengthen the state’s dangerous dog law. Congratulations to all the fanciers who worked to defeat this issue.

ILLINOIS - HB315 has been 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.

INDIANA – The Town Council of Mooresville is considering modifying its dog control ordinance in the wake of a dog attack. No specific proposal has been presented, but the council did hear testimony calling for tighter restrictions as well as pleas from other residents encouraging the council not to adopt a breed-specific proposal.

KANSAS – The City of Hesston has enacted a vicious dog ordinance that prevents residents from acquiring Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers. Residents who already own these breeds must keep them indoors or in a pen, and must keep them muzzled and on a leash when off their owner’s property. A violation of the new ordinance could result in fines from $100 to $1,000 or up to 30 days in jail. AKC opposed the measure and sent materials and samples of reasonable dangerous dog legislation to local fanciers.

KENTUCKY – The City of Taylor Mill is considering restricting or banning “pit bulls.” The commission discussed the subject at its August 10th meeting but has not reached a decision. The city has not yet discussed what the definition of “pit bull” will be in the ordinance. AKC sent a letter of opposition to the members of the City Commission and encourages others to do the same. It is now set to be heard at the Commission meeting on September 14th.

MASSACHUSETTS –H1346, which would have defined a commercial breeder as anyone who breeds more than 1 litter per year, has been sent to “study,” which effectively kills the bill. Nancy Fisk, Vice President of the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed), recently shared the following report about the defeat of HB1346. Congratulations to all who helped make this victory possible!

On June 20th Massachusetts dog owners and breeders rallied in opposition to House Bill 1346 and sent a strong message to the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. This Bill would make anyone who bred and sold puppies from more than one litter per year a commercial breeder.

The Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners, and the AKC Legislative Department sent out the call for action. More than thirty concerned fanciers who testified in opposition to the bill answered that call. The passion and dedication shown by this group could not help but make an incredible impression on the Committee Members because, though the hearing started at 1:00 PM, our bill was not heard until after 5:00 PM and nearly everyone was still in attendance. The many people who testified did an excellent job of expressing how responsible breeders conduct themselves, and represented the fancy in the best possible light.

MassFed is extremely pleased with the support shown by the many dog clubs and individual fanciers in attendance. With continued support such as this we will have a powerful voice in the Massachusetts legislative process. On August 1st the Joint Committee voted not to send this bill out of Committee but instead to send it "to study". This effectively killed the bill because now it will not come before the legislature for a vote. As the Chairman of the Joint Committee put it when speaking to the dog enthusiasts waiting to testify, "We get it", and it seems they did.

NEW MEXICO – The City of Albuquerque is working on a complete rewrite of the city’s animal code. The 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 2 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 at BedRckbouv@aol.com.

- Bernalillo Park has recently opened a special area where dog owners may exercise their animals off-leash. The new section contains trees and benches where owners can observe their dogs as they play.

NEW YORK - S109 was signed by Governor Pataki. The bill repeals the Dangerous Dog Advisory Board.

- A7644 received final approval from the Assembly and has been sent to Governor Pataki. The bill would make low-income residents eligible for participation in low-cost spay/neuter programs.

- A4433 has been sent to Governor Pataki. The bill increases the fines for dog attacks that cause serious physical injury. Specifically, the penalty for allowing a dog to bite could reach $1500. If the dog was previously declared potentially dangerous, the penalty can be up to $3000.

- The Village Board of Horseheads is considering a proposal that would limit residents to two dogs and two cats. The proposal is currently in draft form and has not yet been finalized. AKC has sent a statement of opposition to the board members and encourages residents to do the same. A date for a vote before the Village Board has not yet been set.

- The City of Plattsburgh has implemented a leash law requiring residents to have their dogs on a leash of not more than 10 feet when off their owner’s property. Due to a recent dog attack, the Council has said it is possible that they will consider further restrictions.

- Common City Council officials are considering legislation that would require owners of “pit bulls” and Rottweilers to maintain $100,000 worth of liability insurance. AKC alerted local fanciers and sent a letter to local officials reminding them that New York State has a law that prohibits local governments from enacting breed-specific laws.

OKLAHOMA – In August, Attorney General Drew Edmondson issued a legal opinion stating that local governments are indeed prohibited from enacting breed-specific laws in Oklahoma. The opinion was requested by Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, who announced earlier this summer that he intends to introduce legislation to reverse that opinion and allow municipalities to regulate "pit bulls." AKC previously sent a statement to Rep. Wesselhoft opposing this proposal and is working with purebred dog owners in the state to strengthen enforcement of the Sooners' existing dangerous dog law.

- The Village City Council has adopted a new vicious dog ordinance. The new ordinance requires that a judge declare animals dangerous or potentially dangerous and allows owners to appeal. Owners of dogs that are deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous will be required to maintain $100,000 worth of liability insurance, microchip their dogs, leash and muzzle their dogs when they are not in a kennel, and they must have their dog spayed or neutered. Violators may have their animals seized or be fined up to $750.

OREGON - Senator Deckert’s S844 has been sent to Governor Kulongoski. The bill creates a strong dangerous dog law that punishes irresponsible owners while preserving due process. The bill 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.

- S549 remained in the Budget Committee upon adjournment rendering the bill dead.
The bill would have established the Pet Sterilization Fund by imposing a tax on dogs in counties which have more than 100,000 residents, and would have allowed counties with fewer residents to donate money to the fund voluntarily.

TENNESSEE – The Planning Commission in the City of Woodbury is considering a proposal that would require “pit bulls” be registered and that owners obtain a $100,000 liability policy. “Pit bulls” (as yet undefined) would be required to be kept in a locked kennel and muzzled when off the owner’s property. AKC has sent materials and a letter of opposition to members of the Planning Commission.

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, 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. For more information on how you can help, please read AKC’s Legislative Alert.

- The City of Port Neches has tabled a proposal to ban “pit bulls” because of a state law that prohibits local governments from enacting a breed-specific law.

WASHINGTON D.C. – D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham has introduced a proposal to allow dog owners to exercise their dogs off-leash at D.C. owned parks. The ordinance would allow the District to designate certain areas in their parks as off-leash dog parks, something which is prohibited under current law.

UNITED STATES - 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 following Congress's August recess. 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.