|2007's Major Moments in State and Local Legislation
CA AB 1634 –Californians faced a major challenge this year in fighting AB 1634. This legislation would have required the mandatory spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats over the age of six months, with limited and expensive exceptions. The department identified and contacted over 100,000 dog owners and AKC breeders in California to get them involved in the fight. For the first time, the AKC also hired a local lobbyist to assist us and also conducted our first state-level lobby days. The response from fanciers and concerned dog owners was tremendous. More letters were received about this bill than any other before the Legislature this year and we overflowed the committee hearing rooms at every opportunity.
Although the bill passed the State Assembly, it was stopped in the Senate Local Government Committee. The bill is eligible to be heard again in 2008 and the Canine Legislation department will be closely monitoring this situation and working with concerned dog owners to defeat this bill should it return.
IN HB 1607 – This bill sought to establish regulation of “pet dealers” by the State Board of Animal Health. Anyone who sold any number of dogs for profit, or anyone who sold six or more dogs in one year, would have been considered a pet dealer and subject to the provisions of the proposed law. Additionally, it would have required mandatory veterinary examinations of dogs prior to sale, mandatory record keeping requirements to be kept for an undetermined period of time, and allowed investigations of purported violators of this bill and enforcement of its provisions. Due to the efforts of Indiana club officers, legislative liaisons, concerned citizens, and the Canine Legislation department, the sponsor declared that he would not move the legislation forward in the 2007 legislative session.
MN Dog and Cat Breeders Act – Senate File (SF) 121 would have required any breeder with six or more intact adult females (defined as any dog over 20 weeks of age) to comply with the provisions of SF 121. The bill provided for the licensure of breeders, including payment of an annual fee and facility inspection before licensure. SF 121 prescribed mandatory standards of kennel operations and care, shelter and shade requirements, and included bans on tethering and debarking. Because of the Canine Legislation department’s work and concerned Minnesota dog breeders in opposition to the bill, the sponsor agreed not to move forward.
NM HB 1106 – Known as the “Pet Owner Responsibility Act”, this bill, if adopted, would have required all dogs six months of age or older to be spayed or neutered. The Canine Legislation department’s outreach to fanciers and concerned dog owners helped convince the sponsor to pull the bill.
PA Dog Law Regulations – Governor Rendell proposed a massive overhaul of regulations related to enforcement of the Pennsylvania Dog Law. AKC, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, actively opposed the proposed regulation changes. The purported reason for the changes was to address the abuses in some high volume dog breeding operations, but the “one size fits all” approach forwarded in the regulation revisions would have mandated unreasonable stipulations for thousands of responsible breeders in Pennsylvania. AKC and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs worked closely with the United States Sportsmen’s Association to energize a massive statewide opposition to the proposed regulation changes. Our reasoned arguments that no changes are needed for the existing regulations were buttressed by the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Commission report that found the proposed regulations were unnecessary, unjustified and seriously flawed. While there has been little activity regarding these regulations in the latter half of 2007, the Canine Legislation department expects new proposals regarding attempts to address abuses in some Pennsylvania high volume dog breeding operations. The Canine Legislation department will continue our coordination with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs to insure that any proposal is reasonable and enforceable.
VA HB 1853 – This bill would have required the mandatory spaying or neutering of dogs and cats purchased from a “dealer”. While the bill provided certain exemptions, the definitions of the exempted parties were inadequate to protect the right to own and breed dogs responsibly without undue governmental influence. The Canine Legislation department reached out to a countless number of fanciers, enthusiasts, and concerned dog owners, whose voices were heard by the House committee members who tabled the bill.
Highlights of 2007 Local Legislation
Hillsborough County, FL – In response to a dog attack, the Hillsborough County animal control director assembled a list of legislative options, including mandatory spay/neuter, high intact animal fees, mandatory microchipping and high fines. After fanciers organized to oppose these provisions, they were rejected by the Animal Control Advisory Board. A task force has been formed to study how education can improve responsible pet ownership as well as reduce dog bites. The county is now pursuing outreach programs to educate the public about responsible dog ownership. AKC club members are working with local officials in the county and schools to distribute copies of AKC’s educational programs Safety Around Dogs and Best Friends.
Coeur d’Alene, ID –The Coeur d’Alene City Council considered breed-specific legislation after a local dog attack. The Canine Legislation department sent dangerous dog packets to members of the Coeur d'Alene Dog Fanciers Club who personally delivered them to the city council members. The department also sent a letter to the mayor and city council. The city decided against a breed-specific ordinance and the Coeur d’ Alene Dog Fanciers Club is working with the city to help streamline animal control and develop a dog training program for community members.
Wichita, KS – The City of Wichita considered and then rejected a breed-specific ordinance that would have deemed American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American pit bull terriers, to be dangerous dogs. AKC worked with local clubs and residents to educate the council about breed-specific legislation. The council proceeded to adopt a more rigorous dangerous dog law and will re-evaluate the success of the new ordinance in 2008.
Baton Rouge, LA – The City of Baton Rouge had been discussing a breed-specific ordinance to ban “pit bulls,” although which breeds would have been included was never revealed. The proposal was tabled in favor of a generic dangerous dog ordinance. The AKC Canine Legislation department worked with local fanciers to provide model legislation and also sent letters to the city council members.
Baltimore County, MD – The Baltimore County Council rejected a draft ordinance that would have placed severe restrictions on the ownership of “pit bulls,” including American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American pit bull terriers, or any dog deemed to be a mix of these breeds, after a massive outcry from the public. The Canine Legislation department assisted the Maryland Dog Federation in alerting local dog owners by contacting all club officers, judges, delegates and legislative liaisons in Baltimore County and writing a letter to the council opposing the restrictions.
Montclair, NJ - An ordinance outlawing most instances of tethering was introduced in the Township of Montclair. The Canine Legislation department worked with both the Montclair Township Council and local constituents to oppose the bill. Due to our overwhelming grassroots efforts, the proposal was pulled from the Council’s agenda.
Tacoma, WA – The City of Tacoma proposed changes to their animal control ordinance including requiring the owner of an intact dog or cat to purchase a breeder’s permit in addition to the required unaltered license even if they did not intend to breed the animal. Local dog breeders and responsible owners objected to the change and worked with staff to draft alternative changes that would assist the city in reducing dog bites. The city has adopted changes to their ordinance which include graduated fines and updated dangerous dog provisions which are not breed-specific.