2008 Year in Review
2008 was a busy year for AKC’s Government Relations Department. A combination of sound policy, motivated and well-educated constituents, and lots of long hours resulted in many successes. Here’s a quick recap:
Arizona HB 2516 – This mandatory spay/neuter bill would have prohibited persons from owning or keeping a dog or cat that is more than six months old if the animal has not been spayed or neutered, unless the person has acquired an intact permit for the animal. This minority party bill was assigned to three separate legislative committees, but, due to the response orchestrated by AKCGR, was never considered.
California AB 1634 – This mandatory spay/neuter bill died at the close of the 2009 session after it failed on the Senate floor by a vote of 5-27. The final version of the bill would have required that an animal be spayed/neutered if it was cited three times for not having a license or for roaming at-large. Throughout this year-and-a-half-long battle the AKC posted multiple legislative alerts, sent several letters from AKC Chairman Ron Menaker and CEO and President Dennis Sprung, hosted two lobby days in Sacramento, and worked with clubs, fanciers and responsible breeders to assist them in communicating their opposition to their elected officials. The Government Relations Department thanks all the folks who worked so hard to defeat this legislation.
Georgia HB 301 – This anti-dog fighting bill was strongly supported by both the American Kennel Club and the Georgia Canine Coalition. Signed into law by Governor Sunny Perdue in a ceremony on May 6, the new law makes it a felony to own a dog for fighting, to bet on a dog fight, or to allow a dog fight on one's premise. It also makes it a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony on subsequent offenses to be a spectator at a dog fight.
Massachusetts HB 5092 – The AKC and responsible dog owners in Massachusetts succeeded in ensuring Massachusetts House Bill 5092 did not pass out of committee. This most-terrible conglomeration of many anti-dog, anti-responsible breeder, and anti-responsible owner proposals replaced a reasonable non-discriminatory dangerous dog bill that was both supported by AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs. Among the many problematic provisions to HB 5092, the most egregious included: imposing mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs over 12 months of age (or in the alternative, owners will have been required to qualify for and annually purchase an intact animal permit at a cost of up to $500 per dog); limiting female dogs to one litter per year, with few exceptions; requiring the reporting of all sales of puppies to local jurisdictions; eliminating the practice of humane tethering, without allowances for hunting or sled dogs; allowing towns and cities to impose breed-specific ordinances; instituting state-mandated vaccination schedules, instead of allowing vaccination schedules to be provided by, and in consultation with, a veterinarian; and establishing unreasonable nuisance laws that could result in the forced sterilization, banishment, or euthanization of dogs. In addition to working hand-in-hand with the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners, AKCGR issued several Legislative Alerts, provided sample letters to Massachusetts constituents, wrote letters of opposition to committee members, and e-mailed over 50,000 Massachusetts dog breeders and owners notifying them of both the bill’s introduction and subsequent developments.
Michigan HB 6395 – This breeder regulation bill was proposed to strictly regulate virtually all responsible dog breeders. It would have: defined anyone who sold or offered for sale more than two dogs per year, or more than one litter of dogs per year, as a "pet seller"; mandated that those who qualified as pet sellers to acquire an annual pet seller license from their county animal control shelter at a cost of $200/year; required an applicant for a pet seller license to submit his or her fingerprints with a license application for a criminal history and FBI background check; would have given discretion to county animal control shelters to deny applications for pet seller licenses, regardless of outcome of background investigation; and called for pet sellers to comply with administrative rules regarding housing that would have been financially detrimental to responsible breeders who operated out of their homes. AKCGR worked with Michigan fanciers in opposition to this bill, and along with the Michigan Association for Pure-Bred Dogs, successfully convinced the bill’s sponsor, Representative Caul, to not move the bill forward.
Minnesota SB 2292 – This breeder regulation bill would have established breeder licensing and required inspection of all “kennels.” It also sought to establish standards of care that were unproven, many of which would have become significant burdens on responsible breeders if they became law. AKCGR worked with many dedicated responsible breeders and owners in Minnesota in opposition to this bill, which was removed from the Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committee’s agenda and not again considered during the 2008 session.
Tennessee SB 2738 – The bill sought to make owning a “pit bull dog” a crime in Tennessee, and defined “pit bull dog” as any “American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American bulldog, or American Staffordshire Terrier, or any mixed breed dog that contains fifty percent of its lineage from those breeds.” The bill also would have forced any person found guilty of owning a "pit bull dog" to surrender custody and forfeit ownership of the dog to a humane society. Due to the overwhelming response in opposition to the bill coordinated by the Government Relations Department, Sen. Kilby, the bill’s sponsor, quickly decided not to move the bill forward.
Virginia HB 1570 – Another mandatory spay/neuter bill, it sought to mandate the spaying or neutering of companion animals. AKCGR and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders were successful in having the bill tabled in legislative committee.