Forty state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. Five states have scheduled special sessions. AKC GR is tracking more than 1,000 federal, state and local bills. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit our 2011 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 state bills we are currently tracking.
Florida – House Bill 359/Senate Bill 676 would require that local governments add a $15 surcharge to every citation for an animal control offense or animal cruelty offense. Fees would be used for the training of animal control officers and to fund voluntary spay/neuter services. HB 359 has been referred to the House Subcommittees on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Community and Military Affairs and the House Committee on State Affairs. SB 676 has been referred to the Senate Committees on Community Affairs, Judiciary and Budget.
Georgia – House Bill 148 would create broad definitions for “dangerous” and “vicious” dogs with requirements for extensive enclosure engineering standards, mandatory sterilization, liability insurance and other provisions. This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. AKC GR and the Georgia Canine Coalition are monitoring this bill.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 1522 SD2 HD 1 seeks to impose ownership limits of 50 intact dogs of any age and requires licensing for anyone who sells 25 or more puppies per year or owns 20 intact female dogs or 30 intact dogs of either sex over the age of 6 months. This bill would also establish arbitrary care and extensive engineering requirements for licensees’ facilities and allow inspections of any areas in which dogs are kept, handled or transported with no exemptions for private residences. This bill has passed the Senate and an amended version has passed the House. It has been returned to the Senate to be voted into law. Read AKC’s Legislative Alerts for SB 1522.
Illinois – House Bill 1080 would remove the state ban on breed-specific legislation. This would allow the state to classify specific breeds as “vicious” and allow municipalities to pass breed-specific laws. This bill has been scheduled for several hearings in the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee, but so far they have all been postponed. It is possible the sponsor may offer a substitute bill, but no language has been formally introduced. Read AKC’s Legislative Alert for this bill as introduced.
Maryland – Senate Bill 839 creates a licensing program for all who own or have custody of 15 or more intact females over the age of six months and sells dogs “from six or more litters in a year.” The bill would also allow counties to establish additional kennel license fees to cover administration costs associated with the licensing program and allow them to enact more stringent kennel licensing laws. SB 839 bill passed the Legislature and is pending on the Governor’s desk.
Mississippi – Senate Bill 2821, a felony animal cruelty bill limited to cats and dogs, passed the House and Senate and has been submitted to the Governor. Although every concern expressed by AKC GR, the state federation and Mississippi dog owners was not addressed, a problematic sterilization provision was deleted prior to passage. This provision would have required welfare organizations to sterilize impounded dogs prior to release, with no exemptions for an owned dog that accidentally escaped its enclosure.
Missouri – Senate Bill 95 / Senate Bill 113 – Several pieces of legislation have been introduced to modify or repeal Proposition B, which passed on the ballot in November 2010. A combination of Senate Bills 113 and 95 makes numerous positive changes to the new law, including removing the 50-dog ownership limit and the restrictions on breeding ages (the bill now states that female dogs may not be bred more than what is recommended by a veterinarian). This has passed the Senate and is now pending on the House floor. Read the AKC’s letter to the House Agriculture Policy Committee.
Montana – Senate Bill 421, which would have allowed Montana courts to order the forfeiture of animals seized based on alleged acts of animal cruelty unless the defendant paid 30 days costs of care, was defeated in the House. AKC GR sent letters of concern to state representatives and Montana club members and dog owners called and met with legislators to provide education in opposition to this bill.
Nebraska – Legislative Bill 427 seeks to further regulate “commercial dog breeders,” which is defined in current law as anyone "engaged in the business of breeding dogs" and owns or harbors four or more intact dogs or cats, sells at least 31 dogs and cats per year, owns dogs/cats that produce four or more litters per year, or who knowingly sells or leases dogs/cats for later retail sale or brokered trade. Due to this low threshold in current law, LB 427 would require anyone who owns four intact dogs of any age to comply with strict engineering standards and breeder restrictions, including building an exercise area that is 10 times the size of the primary enclosure. The Agriculture Committee conducted a public hearing of the bill in February, but no action was taken. Read the AKC’s Legislative Alert on LB 427.
Nevada – Assembly Bill 324 would prohibit local governments from enacting breed-specific legislation. The measure defines the criteria for declaring dogs dangerous, offers protections to dogs that are provoked, and provides appropriate penalties for owners who do not obey the law. AKC GR sent a letter of support to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which heard the bill but has taken no action.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 3559 / Senate Bill 1506 – These bills would prohibit insurance companies from denying homeowner coverage based on their ownership of a specific breed of dog. The bills do permit a company, however, to include a clause excluding liability coverage for a dog or specific breed. It also allows insurance companies 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. S.1506 was referred to Senate Commerce.
New York – Assembly Bill 3595 – This bill would prevent senior citizens from being denied occupancy or evicted from a multiple-unit dwelling because they own a pet. The bill also recognizes the benefits of pet ownership and allows landlords to create regulations such as leash laws in public places, removal of animal waste, and other health and safety rules. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Housing Committee. Read the AKC’s Legislative Alert and learn how you can help support this bill.
New York – Senate Bill 1310 – This bill directs the State Department of Health to oversee dog licensing for cities with populations of over 2 million people. Among other provisions, it requires a higher licensing fee for intact dogs than for altered dogs and mandatory sterilization for any dog that is impounded, even if the dog is reclaimed by its owner. This bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
New York – Senate Bill 1710 – This legislation prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums based on a specific dog breed. It does allow the insurer to deny coverage or increase premiums if the dog has been classified as “dangerous,” based on the current definition in statute. However, prior to denying coverage or increasing the premium, the owner of the dangerous dog must be permitted to successfully complete an obedience course, which would then waive the owner from this provision. AKC GR and its New York federation are supporting this bill, which has been assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee.
North Carolina – House Bill 426 / Senate Bill 2, called “Chamberlin’s Law,” expands the state’s cruelty laws and lowers the standard for the definition of cruelty from an act that is “intentional” to an act that is only “reckless.” While exceptions are made for physical alteration of livestock and poultry to conform to breed standards, no exception is made for dogs. Anyone who is found guilty could be prohibited from owning or having custody of dogs for an established period of time, and ordered to receive a psychiatric or psychological evaluation at his own expense. HB 426 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary B. SB 2 has been re-referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. Neither bill is scheduled for a hearing.
Ohio – House Bill 14 seeks to remove the term “pit bull” from the state’s definition of “vicious dog.” The term “pit bull” is not defined in current law, but owners of dogs considered to be of this breed must comply with numerous requirements. The Ohio Criminal Justice Committee has held several hearings on this bill. Read the AKC Legislative Alert and learn how you can help support this legislation.
Ohio – Senate Bill 130 seeks to regulate “high volume” dog breeding in Ohio, defined as those who produce at least 9 litters of puppies and sell 60 or more dogs in a calendar year. The bill is very similar to Senate Bill 95 from 2010, which, in its final version, included a number of changes requested by the AKC, but still contained several provisions of concern. These include a definition of “kennel” that could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog and problematic standards for “high volume breeders." The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Committee, but no hearing has been scheduled.
Oklahoma – Senate Bill 637 as amended by the House Administrative Rules & Government Oversight Committee makes numerous changes to the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. Among other provisions, the committee amendment would exempt all those licensed by the USDA. The amended bill also establishes a toll-free hotline for reporting animal abuse and prohibits the Board from hiring “humane society groups” to perform inspections. The AKC wrote a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the amendment, including the amendment’s failure to change the vague definition of “commercial breeder” and the allowance for the Board to adopt directives without legislative approval. SB 637 as amended passed the committee and is now pending in the House of Representatives. Read more about this bill.
Oregon – House Bill 2724 would create the crime of animal endangerment, defined as leaving a dog or cat in a car when the weather is a danger to the animal’s health, and would allow law enforcement officers to remove the animal and cite the owner for a Class B traffic violation. HB 2724 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Oregon – House Bill 3047 would clarify the definition of “farm use” to ensure that dog training is an acceptable use for land zoned exclusively for farm use. AKC GR sent a letter of support to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. A work session for the bill has tentatively been scheduled for April 14th.
Oregon – House Concurrent Resolution 12 recognizes the AKC Canine Good Citizenship program, encourages owners to train their dogs and urges kennel clubs to provide training programs in their communities. The measure is in the House Rules Committee.
Pennsylvania – Senate Bill 27 makes positive changes to consumer protection laws. Among other provisions, the bill clarifies that a dog may not be declared “unfit for purchase” if the dog has intestinal or external parasites (unless the dog is seriously ill or dies), the dog has an illness or injury likely contracted after the sale, or the dog has a health problem that was disclosed in writing prior to the sale. The disclosure must be signed by both the seller and the purchaser and be documented in the health certificate. The AKC sent a letter of support to the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee, where the bill is currently pending.
Rhode Island – Senate Bill 266 would ban debarking, unless a veterinarian files written certification with animal control stating that the procedure is necessary to treat a disease, injury, or an abnormality that is causing pain. Anyone found guilty of violating this ban would be fined up to $1,000 and prevented from owning any animals or living with anyone who owns an animal for an amount of time deemed appropriate by the court. The Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee held this bill for further study.
Rhode Island – Senate Bill 140 – This bill, in addition to other provisions, would make it a violation of the animal cruelty statute to keep any dog “outside, tethered, penned, caged or otherwise confined” for more than one hour without access to an outdoor housing facility, unless the person caring for the dog also remains outside. As currently written, this could mean that someone allowing their dog to play in a fenced-in backyard for an hour must have an outdoor facility available, unless they remain outside with the dog. The Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee held this bill for further study.
South Carolina – Senate Bill 200 would allow courts to order the forfeiture of animals that are seized based on allegedacts of animal cruelty unless the defendant pre-pays 30 days animal care costs. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Texas – House Bill 1451 would define anyone who owns 11 or more intact female animals (dogs or cats) and is engaged in the business of breeding animals as a commercial breeder. Among other requirements, the newly-defined “commercial breeders” would be regulated by the Commission of Licensing and Regulation, be required to undergo criminal background checks and allow an annual inspection of their property. The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures has approved an amended version of this bill. Read AKC’s alert on HB 1451.
Texas – House Bill 323 (companion bill Senate Bill 279) would prohibit the removal of a pet, companion or assistance animal from the possession of a person named in a protective order. This bill would also make it a crime to harm, threaten, or interfere with the care, custody, or control of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal owned by a person named in a protective order. HB 323 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence. SB 279 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.
Texas – House Bill 998 would require the owner of any unneutered male dog over 20 pounds that is ever off the premises of the owner off-lead to purchase $100,000 per occurrence in liability insurance to cover instances of property damages, bodily injury or death. The measure has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence. Read AKC’s alert on HB 998.
Texas – House Bill 2116 would define anyone who owns 11 or more intact female animals (dogs or cats) and is engaged in the breeding and sale of animals for a profit as a commercial breeder. Under this measure, regulations for proper feeding, watering, housing, care, veterinary care, grooming, treatment, transportation and disposition of dogs would be drafted and enforced by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The bill also restricts tethering and outdoor confinement of dogs. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on County Affairs.
Texas – House Bill 2833 would define “working dogs” as those that are used in law enforcement, agricultural activities, hunting, service or therapy and would exempt these animals from compliance with mandatory spay/neuter provisions, numerical limits, limits on the weight or breed of animals a person may own, specified housing requirements or requirements for additional insurance. The measure has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock.
Texas – Senate Bill 1500 would allow owners of a pet to sue for noneconomic damages in certain cases. Damages would be at least $500, but not more than $5000. SB 1500 has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.
Texas – Senate Bill 1517 would require any dog adopted out or returned to an owner by a releasing agency be sterilized unless specified conditions are met. The bill would require that owners of dogs and cats that are not sterilized obtain a $50 intact animal permit for each intact animal. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.
Utah – House Bill 124 places numerous requirements on “commercial breeders,” defined as anyone who owns six or more dogs “for breeding” and sells or provides the offspring of the dog to another person. Commercial breeders may not sell or solicit the sale of a dog unless the commercial breeder has a valid breeder license, business license, and land use approval from the Land Use Authority. The bill failed in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, but the sponsor is expected to bring the bill up again for consideration.
Vermont – House Bill 303 would change numerous licensing and tax requirements for those who sell dogs. It would also require inspections of all “pet merchants,” defined as someone who engages in the sale of one or more litter per year or the sale of two or more animals over six months of age within a year. Anyone who owes two or more intact “domestic pets” must obtain a $25 annual license, which must be prominently displayed on the owner’s premises. Read more about this legislation.
Washington – House Bill 1226 (companion Senate Bill 5151) would establish the companion animal safety, population control, and spay/neuter assistance program to provide for spaying and neutering of feral cats and companion animals owned by low-income individuals. The revenue will come from a $50 per ton fee on producers of pet food. HB 1226 has been assigned to the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. SB 5151 will be heard by the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections.
Washington – House Bill 1755 would institute statewide restrictions on tethering including prohibiting tethering between 10pm and 6am, tethering for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period or 10 consecutive hours. HB 1755 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Washington – Senate Bill 5649 was initially identical to HB 1755, but a substitute version has added exemptions for dogs under veterinary care, arctic breeds used for sled dog activities, and dogs participating temporarily in an exhibition, show, contest, or other event in which the skill, breeding, or stamina of the dog is judged or examined or being temporarily kept in specified circumstances. The bill has passed the Judiciary Committee and is eligible to be voted on by the House.