News from the State Capitols
Forty-four state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. In 2010, the AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) tracked over 1,100 bills at the federal and state levels. As of mid-January, AKC GR is already tracking approximately 500 new and prefiled bills.
For the latest information on the 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 email@example.com.
Here are some highlights of the bills we are currently tracking:
Kentucky – House Bill 56 would require forfeiture of ownership of animals upon conviction in cruelty and torture cases and prohibit ownership or possession of animals of the same species for two years. A similar bill was introduced in 2009, but did not advance. HB 56 is referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Mississippi – AKC GR is monitoring numerous bills addressing animal cruelty in Mississippi. Additional information will be provided should any of these bills advance. Bill text for HB373, HB381, HB467, HB505, SB2069, SB2074, SB2102, SB2103, and SB2127 can be reviewed by visiting the 2011 Legislation Tracking Page and clicking on the state of Mississippi.
Missouri – Several pieces of legislation have been introduced to modify or repeal Proposition B, which passed on the ballot in November 2010:
House Bill 94/Senate Bill 4 – These bills seek to completely repeal the proposition.
House Bill 99 – This bill seeks to add a “grandfather clause” and exempt all facilities, dealers, breeders, pet shops, shelters, and kennels licensed before November 2, 2011. All those licensed after this date must comply with the regulations.
House Bill 131 – This bill seeks to modify Proposition B. It replaces the term “puppy mill” with “dog breeders” and removes the 50-dog ownership limit and other provisions.
Senate Bill 95 – This bill renames the law the “Puppy Cruelty Prevention Act” and expands the measure to cover anyone who owns 10 female dogs over the age of 6 months, regardless of whether the dogs are intact. It also removes the exemptions for shelters and those not breeding/selling dogs.
Senate Bill 113 – This bill seeks to make a number of changes to Proposition B, including removing the 50-dog ownership limit and changing the exercise and housing requirements to match those recommended by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The bill would also change the required rest between breeding cycles from 18 months to 12 months, and allow time to correct violations prior to being charged. The Department of Agriculture would also have the ability to determine whether or not the violation is serious enough to warrant prosecution or inspections. SB 113 also removes the current exemptions for retail pet stores, animal shelters, dog trainers, and hobby/show breeders who own 10 or fewer intact females and sell their offspring.
Nebraska – Legislative Bill 427 seeks to further regulate “commercial dog breeders” in Nebraska. Current law defines these breeders as anyone who sells at least 31 dogs per year, owns or harbors four or more dogs intended for breeding, whose dogs produce four or more litters per year or who knowingly sells or leases dogs for later retail sale or brokered trade. In order to receive an “outstanding designation” from the state, the breeder cannot breed a female more than once every 18 months and must comply with complicated engineering standards for primary enclosures. The bill contains numerous other new care and conditions standards as well. AKC GR is closely monitoring this legislation, which is expected to be scheduled for a hearing very soon. Click here to read the Legislative Alert and view a sample letter.
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 homeowners 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 is referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.
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.
New York – AKC GR is tracking a number of prefiled bills in New York. To date, none of these bills has been scheduled for a hearing:
Assembly Bill 78 – Currently New York law defines “pet dealer” as anyone who sells or offers to sell nine or more dogs each year. This bill seeks to change the definition to a person who meets any of the following criteria: Anyone who sells or offers for sale 9 or more dogs per year that were raised somewhere other than their premises, owns at least 4 intact female dogs or cats at least 6 months of age and sells or offers to sell any offspring, or anyone who sells at least 10 dogs in a calendar year. The bill also removes the current exemption for anyone who sells fewer that 25 dogs a year directly to the consumer. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
Assembly Bill 742/Senate Bill 1280 – Provides an individual tax credit against the tax imposed for the cost of adopting up to three household pets per year from a local SPCA, animal shelter, humane society, rescue, etc. A.742 has been assigned to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee. S.1280 is assigned to the Senate Investigations & Government Operations Committee.
Senate Bill 946 – This bill clarifies larceny statutes by stating that pets are included in the definition of property. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Codes Committee.
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-priced license for owners of intact 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.
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 – House Bill 14 seeks to remove the term “pit bull” from the state’s definition of “vicious dog”. The term “pit bull” has never been defined in statute. In 2010, this measure was combined with another bill and passed the House of Representatives, but the session adjourned prior to Senate consideration. House Bill 14 has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee.
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.
Oregon – AKC GR is monitoring a number of bills in Oregon:
House Bill 2471 – This bill seeks to prohibit people who have been convicted of animal abuse, animal neglect or animal assault from being employed by a kennel or grooming parlor. The bill also changes “owner” to “keeper” in certain sections of law.
House Bill 2712 – This bill would establish minimum fines for certain violations. Specifically, citations for an at-large dog, an unlicensed dog, a dog that is deemed a nuisance or knowingly keeping a dog which has harmed livestock will be categorized as a Class B violation with a minimum fine of $260.
House Bill 2724 – This bill 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. HB 2724 will allow law enforcement officers to remove the animal and to cite the owner for a Class B traffic violation.
South Carolina – AKC GR is monitoring a number of bills in South Carolina:
House Bill 3209 – This legislation provides that an order for protection from domestic abuse may also prohibit harm or harassment of pets owned by the petitioner. H.3209 is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Senate Bill 200 – This bill would establish that a defendant in a civil or criminal case may be ordered to deposit funds for 30 days' care of impounded animals or forfeit rights of ownership, with no return of expended funds if determined not guilty. S.223 is referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Senate Bill 223 – This bill defines cruel confinement and restraint, makes it unlawful to confine or restrain animals in a cruel manner, and preempts all local laws governing the confinement and restraint of animals. S.223 is referred to Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Senate Bill 226 – This bill provides for registration with the county sheriff and community notification of persons convicted of felony animal abuse. S.223 is referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Texas – House Bill 323 /Senate Bill 279 will prohibit the removal of a pet, companion or assistance animal from the possession of a person named in a protective order. It also seeks to 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.
Virginia – House Bill 2195 would make devocalization a felony offense unless it is necessary to treat an illness, injury, or a congenital abnormality that is causing the animal pain or harm. Veterinarians who perform the surgery must keep records on it for four years.
West Virginia – House Bill 2015 seeks to require a license for all “commercial dog breeders,” defined as anyone who owns at least 20 intact dogs over one year of age and is engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale. Those who have a registered greyhound kennel with the West Virginia Racing Commission are exempt. Female dogs may only be bred if they are between 18 months and 8 years of age, and there is a 50-dog ownership limit. Inspections would occur twice annually, and inspectors must give five days’ notice prior to the inspection. Similar bills in 2009 and 2010 did not advance. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Judiciary Committees.
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.
Wyoming – Senate File 66 creates the Wyoming Pet Animal Program, an advisory board to develop a “pet animal welfare program,” “promote the protection and overall health of pet animals,” and “provide…protection and management services,” among other tasks. A “pet animal” is defined as any privately owned vertebrate or invertebrate except livestock. It also allows counties to establish a license fee of $200-$500 for all pet stores, kennels, groomers, breeders, shelters, and rescues. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.