News from the State Capitols
The U.S. Congress and 34 state legislatures are currently in session. Sixteen states have adjourned their regular sessions. Through the quarter ending March 31, the AKC Government Relations (GR) Department addressed approximately 750 state and local-level issues, a volume far exceeding that of any other first quarter in the department’s history. To date, the Government Relations Department has tracked almost 800 state bills. Over 100 onerous breeder regulation/oversight bills have been introduced.
For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or email@example.com.
Here are some of the highlights:
Senate Bill 250 – SB 250 will require sterilization if a dog is at-large, if the dog is not licensed, or if the dog violates local animal control ordinances, even on a first offense. The bill also adds the term "custodian" to state law. AKC continues to oppose these restrictions and the use of the term "custodian" as we believe this term is equivalent to "guardian." The Government Relations department has posted an updated alert, including new sample letters for clubs and individuals and sent a letter to the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill passed the Senate Local Government Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee has placed the bill on its "Suspense File." The Suspense File allows committee members to evaluate at the same time all bills that will require an expenditure of state or local government funds. A special hearing for items on the Suspense File will be held prior to the May 29th fiscal deadline.
Connecticut – The Connecticut State Senate passed some last-minute amendments to Senate Bill 499 that seek to impose several changes to the state’s consumer protection laws. As amended, the bill would require kennel licensees to have each puppy examined by a veterinarian prior to sale, and then every 15 days until the puppy is sold. It would also direct all sellers of dogs to file a certificate with the state Department of Agriculture within two days of sale or be subject to a $100 fine or 30 days imprisonment. The bill also seeks to limit kennel licensees from purchasing a dog or cat for resale from a breeder or other person outside of Connecticut who is not in possession of a current license issued by the USDA and any applicable state agency.The AKC has issued a Legislative Alert and is working closely with the Connecticut federation to defeat this legislation in the House of Representatives. Click here to learn more about the bill.
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 amendedto 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 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 (a bill that originally included warrantless searches, fingerprinting, and licensing of anyone owning more than three intact females) 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.HB 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 thatit will not proceed in its current form, and that any amendment will be sent back to committee for consideration.
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 obtaining “Canine Good Citizen®” (CGC) certificates. The AKC believes strongly in the promotion of responsible dog ownership. This bill has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. Read the article regarding CGC in this issue of Taking Command for more information on the CGC resolutions being passed around the country.
New York – Several bills have been introduced in New York that are of concern to all fanciers and breeders:
Assembly Bill 7218 – This bill seeks to outlaw tail docking and exhibiting/showing a dog with a docked tail. The bill also gives New York animal rights organizations the right to a private action for enforcement and to obtain redress for a violation. GR has begun extensive opposition and outreach efforts on the bill, including legislative alerts, letters of opposition, and working with a broad spectrum of constituents. Click here to read more about A. 7218.
Senate Bill 4515 – This bill would require the registration and regulation of animal “breeders”, which is defined as any person who breeds three or more animals for sale per year for profit. Breeders would be subject to annual licensing, strict engineering requirements, and inspections twice each year at the breeder’s expense. It also limits “pet dealers” in New York to obtaining dogs only from NY licensed breeders. Click here to read more about Senate Bill 4515.
Senate Bill 4690 – This legislation would limit ownership to 50 unsterilized dogs and allow any police officer or officer of the ASPCA or any other humane organization to seize dogs kept in violation of this ownership limit if certain due process requirements are met. The bill also expands the definition of “Pet Dealer” to include any person who engages in the sale or offering of sale more than nine animals per year. Click here to read more about SB 4690.
North Carolina – AKC is monitoring several bills in North Carolina:
Senate Bill 460 – This bill defines “commercial breeder” as "any person who, during any 12-month period, owns or maintains 15 or more intact female dogs of breeding age for the primary purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals. Breeding facilities could be subject to random inspections, including potential warrantless searches of licensees’ homes. The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. AKC is working closely with the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs to defeat this legislation. Click here to read more about Senate Bill 460.
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 several legislative alerts, notified local clubs, conducted a Lobby Day training event, and is working closely with the North Carolina federation to defeat this bill. Click here to read more about House Bill 733.
Ohio – Several bills of interest have been introduced in Ohio:
House Bill 79 – The AKC supports this bill, which removes the term “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. Breed-specific language in state law has also enabled local Ohio municipalities to enact strict ordinances regarding ownership of "pit bulls". The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Click here for more information on the bill and legislative contact information.
Senate Bill 95/House Bill 124 – These bills were recently introduced, and feature 42 pages of breeder oversight and restriction provisions. They include provisions for search and seizures, limiting ear cropping and tail docking, limiting bitches to one litter per year, providing the Ohio Humane Society with greater powers, and creating a kennel control authority board. GR is in the process of analyzing these bills, and will work with key Ohio fanciers and the Ohio federation to address these bills.
Oklahoma – As originally written, HB 1332 would have provided, among other things, for warrantless search and seizure and required that out-of-state breeders be licensed in Oklahoma to transport animals in Oklahoma. An amendment has removed some of the problematic language, but some concerns remain. AKC GR, local AKC staff and the Oklahoma federation have actively opposed the measure; issued alerts, letters and informational resources; contacted lawmakers, and provided feedback to assist the state with breeder issues. The bill has passed the House, and will now be sent to a conference committee for amendments prior to reconsideration by the full Senate. Click here for the most recent information on HB 1332.
Oregon – The AKC is monitoring several bills in Oregon:
House Bill 2470 – House Bill 2470 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 outlaws anyone from possessing more than 25 intact dogs 4 months of age or older. HB 2470 passed the House and is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Consumer Protection and Public Affairs Committee. AKC has issued a Legislative Alert on this bill and is working with our Oregon federation and local dog clubs in opposition to this bill. Click here for more information on House Bill 2470.
House Bill 2986 – This bill prohibits breeding dogs that share a common parent or grandparent. It makes the 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. This bill has not yet received a hearing. Click here to read House Bill 2986.
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. HB 39 unanimously passed the House and is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC is working with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs to address concerns with this bill.
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. This bill passed the House County Affairs Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full House of Representatives. The Texas Responsible Pet Owners Association has taken an active role in working to defeat 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. This bill received a hearing in the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, but no vote was taken. Click here to read more about the bill.
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. These bills have not yet received a hearing. Click here for more information on this bill and legislative contact information.
Washington – On April 30, Governor Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5651, which limits ownership to 50 intact dogs over 6 months old, limits breeding ages, and incorporates questionable legislative findings. The AKC posted legislative alerts, sent letters to key committees, provided talking points, and alerted Washington clubs and breeders. The AKC thanks the key Washington fanciers who worked to oppose this legislation. Click here to read the bill.
Wisconsin – Assembly Bill 250 would require a license for anyone who sells over 25 dogs a year in the state, including non-residents. Licenses would also be required for animal shelters and animal control facilities. The bill also allows for warrantless searches and inspections. The AKC is monitoring this bill in conjunction with the Dog Federation of Wisconsin. Click here to read the bill.