News from the State Capitols
Many states kicked off their 2009 legislative sessions in January, and the Government Relations team is already hard at work tracking over 600 state bills and working with local federations and dog clubs to protect the rights of owners and breeders. Also, many local municipalities are considering ordinances that affect responsible dog owners.
For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some of the highlights:
California – A bill has been introduced in the California Senate to require the spaying or neutering of all dogs and cats unless the owner has an “unaltered dog license”. Under Senate Bill 250, any owner will be forced to spay or neuter their dog if they are concurrently cited with two infractions, including violations of leash laws and “failure to take proper care of noisy animals”. If a dog is impounded, then it must be spayed or neutered and the owner will be forced to pay a lien within 14 days. AKC is working with local dog clubs and fanciers and has posted a legislative alert on this issue to urge Californians to contact the Senate and express their opposition to this bill. Click here to read more about SB 250.
Florida – House Bill 189 seeks to eliminate the current prohibition on local breed-specific regulation. This bill has been introduced in previous sessions with no success and AKC is hopeful the bill will not move forward this year.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 79, which seeks to prohibit the ownership, possession, or sale of “pit bulls”, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations. A “pit bull” is defined as any dog that is an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of those breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of those breeds. Hawaii fanciers and dog owners have held rallies and contacted the Hawaii Legislature to express their opposition. AKC supported their efforts through legislative alerts providing talking points and information on how to contact state legislators. Due to the overwhelming volume of contacts, it is hopeful the Senate will not allow this bill to proceed.
Illinois – Two bills have been introduced in Illinois that would greatly impact the rights of responsible fanciers and breeders:
Senate Bill 139 – This bill, which sought to ban cropping and docking in Illinois, has been amended to remove all substantive language from the bill. It now simply exists as a placeholder or "shell", should the sponsor choose to revisit the issue later in session. AKC is working closely with Illinois dog clubs and responsible breeders. We will continue to monitor this legislation and will update our website if new language is added to the bill.
House Bill 198/Senate Bill 53 – Although Senate Bill 53 (the breeder regulation bill in the Senate) passed the Senate Licensed Activities Committee, the author has agreed to adopt an amendment on the Senate floor that will remove all language from the bill, rendering it a "shell" bill just like SB 139. House 198 (the House version of the breeder regulation bill) passed out of the House Business and Occupational Licenses Committee with an agreement from the sponsor that it will not proceed in its current form, and that any amendment will be sent back to committee for consideration. AKC is working closely with Illinois dog clubs and responsible breeders on these bills. We will continue to monitor this legislation and will update our website if new language is added to the bill.
Indiana – The Indiana House of Representatives approved a last-minute committee amendment to House Bill 1468, which originally dealt with animal cruelty and sex offenders. As amended, the measure would strictly regulate breeders in Indiana and limit dog ownership. Local dog breeders and clubs are working with AKC to educate legislators on the ineffectiveness of limit laws and onerous regulations when addressing the issue of irresponsible breeders. The AKC has sent a letter of opposition to the entire Indiana House of Representatives, posted legislative alerts, and worked with local clubs and breeders to draft letters to the editor and provide talking points for communicating with legislators. Click here to learn more about this bill.
Maine – A bill has been pre-filed in Maine that amends the definition of “breeding kennel” to include any location where dogs or cats capable of breeding are kept and one or more dogs or cats are sold. LD 1053 also increases the fee for licensing a dog that has not yet been spayed or neutered and states that a breeding kennel may not keep more than 10 female dogs or cats capable of breeding.
Massachusetts – Senate Bill 774 would prohibit any person from owning, possessing, controlling, or otherwise having charge of more than 25 intact dogs over six months of age. Female dogs may only be allowed to whelp one litter per year and only dogs between the ages of 18 months and 8 years may be used for breeding. The bill also prohibits ear cropping, tail docking, debarking, and surgical births except under anesthesia and by a licensed veterinarian. AKC is working with its state federation to defeat this bill.
Missouri – The AKC is monitoring two bills in Missouri:
House Bill 1004 – A bill has been introduced in the Missouri house to limit ownership to 50 dogs. AKC is supporting the Missouri federation’s efforts to defeat this bill.
House Concurrent Resolution 4 – The AKC supports Missouri House Concurrent Resolution 4, which encourages dog training programs and kennel clubs to provide training and education for community pet owners that result in dogs being “Canine Good Citizens.” The AKC believes strongly in the promotion of responsible dog ownership. We encourage dog owners to provide proper care, training, and socialization to ensure that their pets remain happy members of the family and respectable members of the community. AKC and its affiliated clubs offer a wide range of educational programs and materials designed to teach dog owners how to meet these goals and enjoy their dogs for many years to come. This bill has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
Nebraska – The Nebraska Legislature has introduced two bills to limit the number of dogs a licensed breeder may own. As originally drafted, Legislative Bill 241 would have amended the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act by limiting ownership by a licensee to 250 animals. LB 677 would heavily regulate commercial breeders, and limit ownership by a licensee to 75 animals. LB 677 has been indefinitely suspended for this session.
Nevada – Senate Bill 241 would require all breeders, regardless of the number of dogs owned, to pay a $500 annual fee for the ability to breed and sell puppies. The bill also imposes numerous other regulations and subjects anyone who breeds and sells dogs to random inspections. AKC is working closely with Nevada dog clubs to defeat this legislation. Click here to read more about Senate Bill 241.
New York – New York Assembly Bill 5507, sponsored by Assemblyman Greg Ball, seeks to classify more residents as “pet dealers”; seeks to impose ambiguous rules on all animal facilities, including homes of responsible breeders and shelters; and to define and regulate certain entities as commercial kennels. Among the provisions is a change in current law to classify “pet dealers” as anyone who sells more than five dogs a year and redefining “animal facility” to mean any area built, installed, or designed to serve as a breeding or maintaining area for animals. This expansive definition applies to virtually any location, including private residences and shelters; and would impose excessive costs and requirements on dog owners. The AKC is working closely with New York dog clubs to defeat this measure and has posted a Legislative Alert with contact information for the sponsor and committee hearing the bill.
North Carolina – AKC is monitoring several bills in North Carolina:
House Bill 460/Senate Bill 460 – Companion bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that define “commercial breeder” as "any person who, during any 12-month period, maintains 15 or more adult female dogs for the primary purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals. Commercial breeding facilities could be subject to random inspections, including potential warrantless searches of licensees’ homes. Commercial breeders may only breed dogs between 18 months and eight years of age. AKC is working closely with the North Carolina federation to defeat this legislation. Click here to read more about these bills.
House Bill 733 – This bill seeks to strictly regulate dog breeding in the Tarheel State by imposing ownership and breeding limits. The bill defines “commercial breeder” as any person who maintains 15 or more adult female dogs during any 12-month period for the purpose of selling their offspring and limits ownership to 20 female dogs over four months of age at any time. The bill also bans the breeding of female dogs less than 18 months or over eight years of age. The AKC has posted a legislative alert, notified local clubs, and is working closely with the North Carolina federation to defeat this bill. Click here to read more about House Bill 733.
Ohio – The AKC strongly supports House Bill 79, which removes “pit bull” from Ohio’s statutory definition of dangerous dogs. Ohio is currently the only state to have enacted statewide breed-specific legislation. The current law states that if a dog "belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull", then it is automatically considered vicious and dangerous and the owner is required to submit reports to the board of health and county dog warden whenever there is a transfer of ownership. Having BSL in state law has also enabled local Ohio municipalities to enact strict ordinances regarding ownership of "pit bulls". Click here for more information on the bill and legislative contact information.
Oklahoma – The AKC is extremely concerned about provisions in House Bill 1332, which adds several new changes to animal control law that will not improve the welfare of animals and punish fanciers, breeders, and responsible owners who participate in dog sports and/or breed in Oklahoma. The AKC is working closely with our state federation to defeat this measure and encourage sound, effective legislation that will truly address the issue of irresponsible breeders. This bill has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. Click here for more information on the bill.
Oregon – The AKC is monitoring several bills in Oregon:
House Bill 2479 – House Bill 2479 severely limits the rights of breeders. Among other provisions, House Bill 2470 imposes significant and cumbersome operational requirements on all who own 10 or more intact dogs of any age and requires breeders to comply with an unreasonable two-year consumer protection term. The bill also limits anyone from possessing more than 25 intact dogs at least 4 months of age. This bill has received a committee hearing. AKC has issued a Legislative Alert on this bill and is working with local dog clubs in opposition to this bill. Click here for more information on House Bill 2470.
House Bill 2852 – This bill would require owners of "pit bulls" to maintain $1 million in insurance to cover "any economic or noneconomic damages" that result from physical injury or any damage a "pit bull" causes to personal or real property. "Pit Bull" is defined as a dog identified or registered as an American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, or American Staffordshire terrier with a dog breed club or league, dog fanciers association, breed registry, or other similar organization. It is also defined as any dog that has the appearance and physical characteristics that substantially conform to the breed standards of the United Kennel Club for American pit bull terriers or the American Kennel Club for Staffordshire bull terriers or American Staffordshire terriers. Click here for more information on this bill.
House Bill 2986 – This bill prohibits inbreeding of dogs by breeder. It makes first violation subject to maximum fine of $360 and a second or subsequent violation subject to maximum fine of $720. The bill also requires breeder to keep records showing parentage and grandparentage of dogs and puppies.
Pennsylvania – House Bill 39 seeks to update the statute regarding ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal, debarking, and surgical birth by requiring a veterinarian to perform all such procedures.
Texas – The AKC is working closely with the Texas federation to defeat several bills in the state:
House Bill 458 – This bill seeks to allow Commissioners Courts of any county with a population of one million or more—which includes Harris County (Houston), Dallas County (Dallas), Tarrant County (Ft. Worth), Bexar County (San Antonio), and Travis County (Austin)—to limit the number of dogs an individual may keep at a residence located in a residential subdivision in an unincorporated area of the county. The Texas Responsible Pet Owners Association has taken an active role in defeating this legislation, and the AKC Government Relations team is assisting their leadership.
House Bill 3180/Senate Bill 1910 – These bills establish strict licensing and regulation requirements for commercial dog and cat breeders. The bills also limit ownership to 50 intact animals.
House Bill 4277/Senate Bill 1845 – These bills impose a mandatory spay/neuter requirement for dog owners in Texas. The bill requires every person who owns a dog or cat at least six months of age to sterilize the animal with very few exceptions. Owners wishing to own an intact dog may purchase a $300 permit for each animal. Click here for more information on this bill and legislative contact information.
In addition, a state legislator requested the Texas Attorney General provide clarification on the state’s current dangerous dog laws. The AKC responded to the Attorney General’s request for input from interested parties and submitted a legal brief supporting the current interpretation of the law, which prohibits breed-specific legislation on the local level.
Washington – Senate Bill 5651 provides numerous regulations on dog owners and breeders. It limits breeding to dogs between the ages of 18 months and eight years and prohibits ear cropping and tail docking unless it is done under anesthesia by a licensed veterinarian. The bill would also limit dog ownership to 50 intact animals over six months of age. The AKC is working closely with local dog clubs and fanciers to defeat this legislation. Click here for more information.
Washington, D.C. – An ordinance banning “pit bulls” has been introduced for the tenth year in a row in the District of Columbia City Council. PR18-52, called the “Pit Bull Public Protection Act of 2009”, seeks to prohibit the importation, possession, displaying, selling, trading, bartering, exchanging, adoption, or giving of “pit bulls” in D.C. Present owners of “pit bulls” will be required to comply with certain standards and requirements and to take certain protective measures when the pit bull is on public space. There proposal also provides penalties for injury or death caused by pit bulls.
This ordinance has not moved forward in the past nine sessions, and AKC hopes the tenth year will be no different. We are prepared to react, however, should the measure gain traction.
West Virginia – Senate Bill 447 as introduced defined a commercial dog breeder as any person who maintains 20 or more intact dogs for the purpose of selling their offspring. The bill required commercial breeders to obtain a valid business license and limited ownership to 40 dogs. Thanks to the numerous contacts by local responsible dog owners, the ownership limits were removed from the bill.
Wisconsin – Senate Bill 110 requires commercial dog breeders who sell at least 100 dogs per year to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture. The bill authorizes the Department to inspect a location prior to issuing a license.
For the latest news, please see our Legislative Alerts page.