Forty-three state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in session. As of mid-March, AKC GR is tracking more than 950 state 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 email@example.com.
Here are some highlights of the state bills we are currently tracking.
California – Assembly Bill 258 will exempt a dog from rabies vaccination requirements if a veterinarian certifies that it will endanger the dog’s life. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
Colorado – Senate Bill 11-009 sought to make significant changes to the impoundment laws and the ability of owners to get their animals back if they are seized during a cruelty investigation. This included changing the hearing from civil to criminal court and requiring that the person charged with cruelty continually pay for the costs of caring for dogs seized.If the owner did not pay at any point, they lose the right to challenge the costs and ownership rights in the trial. The bill also stated that the court must consider a warrant alone as sufficient cause for impoundment. SB 11-009 passed the Senate, but was pulled by a sponsor in the House Agriculture Committee. AKC GR sent a letter of concern, alerted local clubs, and worked with the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs to defeat the measure. Read more about this victory.
Connecticut – House Bill 5368 would extend pet shop license requirements to any individual or groups who import cats or dogs into the state for the purpose of offering them for sale or adoption. Requirements would include standards with respect to sanitation, disease, humane treatment of the animals and protection of public safety.
Florida – House Bill 359 (companion bill Senate Bill 676) will require that local governments add a $15 surcharge to every citation for an animal control offense or animal cruelty offense. Fees will 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 – House Bill 1621 / Senate Bill 1522 seek to impose ownership limits of 50 dogs over the age of 6 months 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. These bills would also establish extensive engineering requirements for licensees’ dog facilities and allow inspections of any areas in which dogs are kept, handled or transported with no exemptions for personal residences. HB1621 has been approved by one House committee and referred to a second. SB1522 has passed the Senate and has been referred to three House committees. Read AKC’s Legislative Alerts for HB1621and SB1522.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 expected that this bill will be significantly amended. Read AKC’s Legislative Alert for this bill.
Maryland – House Bill 940/Senate Bill 839 would create a licensing program for all who own or have custody of “10 or more unspayed dogs over the age of six months” and intend to breed any of the dogs and sell any offspring. 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. HB 940 has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 839 passed the Senate Education, Health & Environment Committee on March 21.
Mississippi – Senate Bill 2821 – As amended by the House, this bill establishes the offense of felony animal cruelty against cats and dogs. AKC’s concerns with the bill include vague definitions of animal cruelty, potential impact on the existing problematic seizure bond statute, and a mandate that animal welfare organizations that hold impounded dogs must sterilize them prior to release. There is no exemption from sterilization for an owned dog that accidentally escapes its enclosure or for dogs owned by a person found not guilty of civil or criminal charges. The bill will now go to a joint conference committee.
Missouri – House Joint Resolution 17 – This resolution would place a measure on the November 2012 ballot to protect animal owners from undue economic burdens and regulations. It further requires that any laws governing, among other issues, the welfare of any animal must be based on “generally accepted scientific principles” and enacted by either the General Assembly or a state department or agency. The AKC supports this resolution, which has been assigned to the House Rural Development Committee. Read the AKC’s Legislative Alert.
Missouri – Senate Bill 95/ Senate Bill 113 (Committee substitute amendment) – 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 several 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 bill has passed the Senate and is scheduled for hearing in the House Agriculture Policy Committee on March 29.
Missouri – House Bill 131 – This bill seeks to modify Proposition B by, among other changes, removing the term “puppy mill,” dog ownership limits, and numeric restrictions on litters. The bill allows for action to be taken against those who have past violations of breeder regulations that have not been addressed or corrected, and creates the crime of neglect for repeated violations. HB 131 also removes exemptions for hobby breeders, shelters and retail pet stores. The bill passed the Agriculture Policy Committee and is now pending on the House Floor.
Montana – House Bill 390 and House Bill 515, which sought to regulate and limit dog breeders, were tabled in committee.
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 on February 8, but no action was taken. Read the AKC’s Legislative Alert on LB 427.
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 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 nine or more dogs per year that were raised somewhere other than their premises, owns at least six 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. It has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
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 – Senate Bill 2/House Bill 426, 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 for conforming 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. SB2 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary II. HB426 has not yet been assigned.
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. In 2010, this language was added into another bill and passed the House of Representatives. The session adjourned before it could be heard in the Senate. The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee has held several hearings on this bill. Read the AKC Legislative Alert and learn how you can help support this legislation.
Oklahoma – Senate Bill 773 seeks to make numerous amendments to the commercial pet breeders laws. Among other provisions, the committee amendment would exempt all those who breed hunting, sporting and working dogs and require that any rules established by the Commercial Pet Breeders Board be first approved by the state Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry. The requirements for annual inspections are removed and replaced with inspections on receipt of a written complaint. These complaints may be made against breeders, animal shelters, or rescues that have contracts with local municipalities. The amendment has been approved by the House Agriculture & Rural Development Committee and now goes to the Appropriations Committee.
Pennsylvania – House Resolution 89 recognizes the impact breeders have on the Commonwealth’s economy and the significant resources they invest in their kennels and their dogs. It also seeks a government study on the economic impact of the 2008 dog laws and subsequent regulations. The bill is pending action on the House floor. Read the AKC’s informational alert on this non-binding resolution.
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.
Texas – House Bill 1451 will 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. Among other requirements, the newly-defined “commercial breeders” will 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 held a hearing on March 15 but did not vote on the bill. Read AKC’s alert on HB 1451.
Texas – House Bill 323 (companion bill 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. This bill will 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 will require the owner of any unneutered male dog over 20 lbs 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 will 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 will define “working dogs” as those that are used in law enforcement, agricultural activities, hunting, service or therapy and will exempt these animals from compliance with mandatory spay/neuter provisions, limits on the number, weight or breed of animals a person may own, specified housing requirements or requirements for additional insurance.
Texas – House Bill 3044 will allow county commissioners to prohibit the sale of dogs and cats on a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public highway or road, or in a parking lot.
Texas – Senate Bill 1500 will allow owners of a pet to sue for noneconomic damages in certain cases. Damages would be at least $500, but not more than $5000.
Texas – Senate Bill 1517 will require any dog adopted out or returned to an owner by a releasing agency be sterilized unless specified conditions are met. The bill will require that owners of dogs and cats that are not sterilized obtain a $50 intact animal permit for each intact animal.
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 litters per year or the sale of two or more animals over six months of age within a year. Anyone who owns 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 1727 will replace “service dog” with the federal definition of service animal. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Washington – House Bill 1755 will 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 been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Washington – Senate Bill 5649, which will institute statewide restrictions on tethering, was initially identical to HB 1755, but a substitute version has added exemptions for dogs under veterinary care, an arctic breed used for sled dog activities, 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.