News from the State Capitols
Ten state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. Several states have also begun prefiling legislation for the 2011 session. To date, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) has tracked over 1,100 bills in 2010 at the federal and state levels. For the latest information on the state and federal bills being tracked by the Government Relations (GR) Department, visit our 2010 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated daily, provides the latest bill text, status, and Legislative Alerts posted by the AKC.
For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights of the bills we are currently tracking:
Kentucky – Prefiled 2011 Bill Recommendation 270 would require forfeiture of ownership of animals involved in cruelty and torture cases and prohibit ownership or possession of animals of the same species for two years. An identical bill was introduced in 2009, but did not advance. The AKC is monitoring the bill and will notify local dog owners should the bill gain traction.
Michigan – Three bills regarding dog breeding have been introduced in Michigan. AKC GR continues to monitor these pieces of legislation and will provide more information should any of the bills gain traction.
House Bill 6561 – This legislation would require a license for all “large-scale commercial kennels”, defined as those who produce 10 or more litters in a calendar year. The county treasurer may charge a “reasonable fee” for the cost of the license, but the amount of this fee is not included in the bill. Those licensed in this bill would be required to comply with all the provisions of House Bill 6562 (see below). The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
House Bill 6562 – This bill, entitled the “Puppy Protection Act”, details the standards that must be held by all “large-scale commercial kennels” (This is defined in HB 6561 as kennels that produce 10 or more litters per year). Among other provisions, the bill limits ownership to 50 intact dogs over four months of age at any time and requires all enclosures to be kept between 50 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the age or breed of the dog. A large-scale commercial kennel may not produce more than 10 litters per year unless it is in compliance with all the care and conditions policies outlined in this bill. HB6562 has also been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Senate Bill 1503 – This bill seeks to regulate “commercial breeders”, defined as those who possess or maintain 25 or more unaltered dogs or cats over four months of age in whole or in part for the purpose of sale. It is unclear if this would include co-ownerships. Breeders are subject to inspection and cannot sell a dog until it has received all vaccinations including rabies. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Bioeconomy.
Missouri – Prefiled Senate Bill 4 seeks to repeal Proposition B or “The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” which was narrowly approved by Missouri voters in the most recent election. Proposition B limits to 50 the number of intact females a kennel may own. It also includes a number of other care and conditions requirements for commercial breeders, similar to those that are already part of existing Missouri commercial breeder law. Prior to the election, AKC GR worked with its Missouri federation in opposition to Prop B and released a number of legislative alerts, flyers, op-ed articles in local newspapers, and other educational materials on this matter. Read the AKC’s official statement on Proposition B. AKC GR is monitoring Senate Bill 4.
New Jersey – AKC GR is monitoring a number of bills in New Jersey:
Assembly Bill 3559/Senate Bill 1506 – These bills would prohibit insurance companies from denying homeowner coverage based on a specific breed of dog. The bills do permit the company, however, to include a clause excluding liability coverage for a dog or specific breed and also allows the insurance company to develop guidelines or a rating system to establish rates and premiums for coverage of certain breeds. A. 3559 has been assigned to the Assembly Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, and S.1506 was referred to Senate Commerce.
Senate Bill 2517/ Assembly Bill 678 – These bills would mandate the sterilization of all dogs and cats prior to being released from the local shelter, even if the dog is reclaimed by the owner. Exceptions are made for dogs that have finished their championship with the AKC or another recognized registry, or dogs that have a “breed ring show record” dating no more than a year prior to the dog entering the shelter or pound. S. 2517 has been assigned to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. A. 678 has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Neither is currently scheduled for hearings.
North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has accepted public input for a study of “companion animal welfare”. The study will focus on the welfare of dogs and cats, the oversight of public and private animal shelters, the state’s spay/neuter program, the scope of commercial breeding operations, and the protection of consumers who purchase companion animals. Upon completion, the findings of the report will be provided to the state legislature. AKC GR issued an informational alert to encourage responsible breeders and owners to provide comment. AKC GR attended the public hearings, met with officials from the department, and provided policy recommendations to the department to ensure that the rights of responsible owners and breeders are protected.
Ohio – The Ohio General Assembly has returned from its fall recess, but will likely not consider any substantive legislation before this session ends. The American Kennel Club continues to track three bills of interest in Ohio:
House Bill 55 – This bill, which revises penalties and clarifies Ohio’s animal cruelty provisions, was amended on the House floor to remove breed-specific language (specifically, the term “pit bull”) from the state’s vicious dog definition. The amendment was added after House Bill 79, which sought to remove the breed-specific language, was stalled in a House committee. Read more about House Bill 79 and Ohio’s vicious dog law. The bill now goes to the State Senate.
House Bill 570 – This legislation seeks to provide an alternative to Senate Bill 95 (see below). It defines a commercial breeder as anyone who maintains at least five dogs used for breeding; promotes, advertises, operates, supervises, or manages the business of breeding dogs; or sells, leases, trades, barters or auctions dogs. The bill also limits ownership to 50 dogs; bans debarking, ear cropping, and tail docking; and allows for inspections and seizure of animals regardless of whether the kennel owner is present. The bill was introduced on August 23, and has not yet been assigned to committee. AKC GR is closely monitoring this legislation and has posted a legislative update online.
Senate Bill 95 – This bill, which seeks to regulate “high volume” dog breeding in Ohio, was passed by the Senate State & Local Government & Veterans Affairs Committee. It defines “high volume dog breeder” as one who produces at least 9 litters and sells at least 60 puppies and/or adult dogs per year. Numerous amendments have been added to address many of the AKC’s concerns, including ensuring breeder representation on the new Kennel Control Authority Board and eliminating the limits on breeding ages. Other problematic provisions remain, however, including a definition of “kennel” that could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog and problematic standards for “high volume breeders". Read the latest Legislative Alert for more information on SB 95.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma has created the Oklahoma State Board of Commercial Pet Breeders to regulate commercial animal breeding in the state. This is in response to Senate Bill 1712, which passed the legislature earlier this year. The board has published draft regulations for comment, which define a “commercial pet breeder” as any person who possesses or has possessed eleven or more adult intact females in the past twelve months. Problematic provisions include high application and inspection fees, vague definitions, and strict kennel and handling requirements. AKC GR has prepared comments and recommendations on the regulations for the Oklahoma State Board.
Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has approved regulations and licensing requirements for dog breeders who sell at least 25 dogs from more than 3 litters per year. The final draft addressed many of the AKC’s concerns, but still contains problematic provisions such as exacting, onerous standards for enclosures, and requiring that breeders keep records of any “home custody providers” (meaning anyone who ever keeps a dog owned by a licensee in their home for any length of time). This could impact co-ownerships, boarding facilities, doggie day care businesses, etc. The regulations must now be formally approved by the Wisconsin Legislature when the session reconvenes in 2011.