News from the State Capitols
Forty-four state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session. Including bills carried over from the 2011 session, AKC GR currently is tracking more than 1,200 state bills. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2012 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated each weekday, provides the latest bill text, status, and Legislative Alerts posted by the AKC. For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights of the state bills AKC GR is currently tracking:
California – Senate Bill 969 would require pet groomers, defined as "an individual, licensed as a pet groomer, who bathes, brushes, clips, or styles a pet for compensation," to be licensed and regulated by the California Veterinary Medical Board. The measure has not yet been assigned to committee.
Florida – House Bill 597 and Senate Bill 818 would require animal control agencies and shelters that euthanize animals to maintain a registry of animal rescue groups that are willing to accept the animals and to contact eligible groups prior to euthanizing animals. These bills would also require animal control agencies and shelters to make available to the public, on a regular basis, intake, release and euthanasia data. HB 597 is awaiting a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. The Senate Community Affairs Committee approved a substitute SB 818, which is pending review to determine if a change in committee reference is needed.
Florida – Current Florida state law prohibits local governments from enacting breed-specific legislation. However, when it was adopted, the current law provided an exemption for communities that enacted breed bans prior to 1990. House Bill 997 (companion bill SB 1322), which AKC supports, would remove that exemption and end breed-based discrimination for all dogs in Florida. HB 997 passed three House committees and has been placed on the House calendar. SB 1322 passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee and the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability, and has been referred to the Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations.
Hawaii – House Bill 2161, known as the “Puppy Purchaser Protection Act,” would require “sellers,” defined as anyone who sells ten or more dogs per calendar year through a kennel, pet shop or directly to the public to provide a health certificate from a veterinarian. The bill provides for replacement or reimbursement up to three times the purchase price of the dog in the event that the dog was sold with a health condition that rendered it unfit for sale at the time of purchase. The bill passed the House Committee on Economic Revitalization and Business and was deferred by the House Committees on Consumer Protection and Commerce and Judiciary.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2200 would establish unreasonable care requirements for certain breeders, prohibit the ownership of more than 50 intact dogs, and could possibly require the sterilization of all puppies sold in Hawaii. Further, this bill will define a “puppy mill” as any person or corporation who maintains custody or ownership of more than ten reproductively intact female dogs for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog’s offspring as pets. The measure was assigned to the Senate Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection and Judiciary and Labor. It was scheduled for a hearing by the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, but was removed from the agenda.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2490 would require sellers of cats and dogs to provide a written guarantee that the animal does not have any deformities or diseases and that if they do, affords the consumer specific rights. The measure would require the seller to provide a certificate of veterinary inspection certifying the animal is healthy at the time of sale. The bill was scheduled for hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection but was deferred.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2492 as introduced would require owners of ten or more intact dogs to meet specified care standards, limit their ability to make decisions about breeding their animals and prohibit ownership of more than thirty intact dogs. The measure passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor with amendments; however, those amendments are not yet published.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2494 would require owners of ten or more intact dogs to pay a $500 biennial license fee, allow unannounced inspections of their private homes, limit their ability to make decisions about breeding their animals and prohibit ownership of more than 30 intact dogs. The bill further provides that those operating without a license or licensees in violation of any of the care or recordkeeping requirements may be charged fines of up to $1000 for each offense. AKC issued a legislative alert and a letter of concern to committee members. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor on Wednesday, February 29th.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2504, as introduced, would have prohibited selling or giving away an unsterilized cat or dog in the state. AKC GR provided written testimony, letters of opposition and issued a Legislative Alert. SB2504 received overwhelming opposition at a public hearing held by the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and Economic Development and Technology Committee (CPN/EDT). The joint committee passed amendments that delete the sterilization provision. The amended bill would establish requirements for pet retailers and prohibit the sale or exchange of dogs and cats in a public place, except by humane societies, animal control, and rescue organizations. The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee passed the measure with additional amendments; however, these amendments are not yet published.
Iowa – Senate File 2073 creates guidelines for what a commercial breeder licensee must do when a license is expired or revoked. Under current law, a “commercial breeder” is defined as anyone who owns four or more intact dogs and sells, exchanges, or leases dogs (or even offers to do so) in return for consideration. If “commercial breeders” are unable or unwilling to obtain a new license, then the owner is given 45 days to either sterilize their dogs and cats or “dispose” of them until they are under the commercial breeder threshold. The bill clearly states that this may be done by selling the dogs (if the breeder is able to obtain a temporary authorization), transferring the title, or “humane destruction”. SF 2073 has passed the Senate Agriculture Committee and is pending on the Senate floor. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the Iowa Senate.
Iowa – Senate Study Bill 3159 makes two significant changes to the requirements for “commercial breeders” (see the definition of “commercial breeder” in the summary of Iowa SF 2073). Licensees would be required to obtain a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit to be used if an animal is seized as a result of a cruelty violation. The bill also removes the ability for someone seeking a license to have a public hearing if their application is denied. SSB 3159 is pending in the Senate Commerce Committee. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the Senate Commerce Committee.
Maryland – House Bill 912 would change the word “owner” to “guardian” in reference to dogs in state code, thereby potentially changing the interpretation of who must obtain state and county kennel licenses and individual dog licenses and who would be held responsible under nuisance and dangerous dog laws. The AKC has alerted Maryland clubs and breeders, as well as parent clubs, about this measure and sent a letter of opposition to the committee. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 1. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the committee.
Missouri – House Bill 1404 would declare December as “Pet Breeders Appreciation Month,” and recognize the contributions that responsible breeders make not just to the economy but also to the health and well-being of purebred dogs. AKC has sent a letter of support and notified Missouri clubs and breeders about this bill. The bill has passed the House Agriculture Policy Committee and is pending consideration by the House of Representatives. Read more about this legislation.
Missouri – House Bill 1513 would prohibit state laws from conferring “upon any animal a right, privilege or legal status that is equivalent or that exceeds a right, privilege or legal status” that the state confers upon humans. AKC has sent a letter of support and notified Missouri clubs and breeders about this bill. HB 1513 has passed the House General Laws Committee and is pending action by the House of Representatives. Read more about this legislation.
Nebraska – Legislative Bill 427 would further regulate “commercial dog breeders,” defined in current law as anyone "engaged in the business of breeding dogs" and who 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 regulations designed for large commercial kennels. The AKC is requesting that the definition of commercial breeder be amended to add the word “and,” so a person would have to meet all the qualifications in order to be a commercial breeder, rather than just one. The bill is pending a final vote by the full Legislature. Read more about LB 427.
West Virginia – Senate Bill 406, sponsored by the Senate President, seeks to regulate “commercial dog breeders,” which in this bill is defined as anyone who “maintains” eleven or more intact dogs over one year of age and breeds dogs exclusively as household pets. As amended by the Senate, the bill does exempt anyone who keeps or breeds dogs "for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials…" The AKC believes, however, that these exemptions are vague and may not truly protect hobbyists. SB 406 has passed the Senate and is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the committee and House of Delegates.
New Hampshire – As introduced, Senate Bill 370 would have placed numerous restrictions and regulations on those who own at least 10 female dogs. The bill would also have limited ownership to 50 intact dogs, mandated that all tail docking be done by a veterinarian and with anesthesia, and allowed any local humane society, animal control officer, or SPCA to investigate complaints. The AKC issued a Legislative Alert, letter of concern to the committee, and worked closely with its New Hampshire federation to educate the committee on the many concerns with this bill. The Senate Executive Departments Committee unanimously voted to delete the bill in its entirety and replace it with language to clarify that local law enforcement has the ability to investigate complaints and prosecute violations of the domestic animal abuse laws.
New York – Assembly Bill 259/Senate Bill 3806 would amend the laws regarding the care of animals that have been seized and are being cared for during animal cruelty hearings. Among other provisions, it would allow the burden of proof for violations to fall to the organization that impounded the animals if they request it, rather than the District Attorney. AKC GR has sent a letter of concern to the committee asking that some amendments be made, including allowing for reimbursement if the charges against the owner are ultimately dismissed. The letter also requested that the burden of proof lie solely with the District Attorney, rather than with the impounding organization, as AKC GR believes such organizations should not be petitioning the court for funds based on their own perceptions of whether or not a law has been broken. A. 259 has passed the Assembly, and both this bill and the companion bill (S. 3806) are pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
New York – Senate Bill 946 revises the definition of “property” in the state’s penal code to include pets. It also expands the penalty of grand larceny in the fourth degree to include pet theft. AKC sent a letter of support for this measure, which is pending in the Senate Codes Committee.
Ohio – House Bill 14 removes the term "pit bull" from the state's definition of "vicious dog" and creates new designations of “nuisance” and “dangerous” based on a dog’s behavior. The AKC supported the efforts of its Ohio federation and numerous responsible dog owners by issuing Legislative Alerts, sending letters to the General Assembly and Governor, and communicating with the sponsor on amendments to ensure an effective law. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and State Senate and was signed by Governor Kasich on February 21. Read more about this significant victory for Ohio dog owners.
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. A number of changes requested by AKC GR have been incorporated into the bill, including removal of problematic standards and ensuring high volume breeder representation the advisory board. The AKC remains concerned that the new definition of “kennel” could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog. While those who fall under this definition will not be affected by Senate Bill 130, the AKC still requests that this amendment be stricken and the definition of kennel remain as it is in current law, which clarifies that a kennel license is required for those who are “professionally engaged in the business of breeding dogs…”. SB 130 has passed the Senate and is pending in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. Read more about this legislation.
Oklahoma – House Bill 2921 seeks to create the Commercial Pet Breeders Act of 2012 and would make significant changes to the state's oversight of dog breeders. Changes include dissolving the controversial Commercial Pet Breeder Board and moving oversight and rulemaking powers to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. Other changes include amending the definition of “adult animal” from 6 months of age to 12 months of age and more clearly defining an “intact female animal” as a female at the second estrus cycle or one and one-half years of age (whichever comes first) and is capable of sexual reproduction. Numerous aspects of the current law, such as the definition of “commercial breeder” (“11 or more intact female animals for the use of breeding for dealing with animals for direct or indirect sale”), licensing, inspection, and annual reporting, all remain the same. The AKC believes that HB 2921 is an important step toward fair oversight of dog breeders in Oklahoma. The bill has passed the Agriculture, Wildlife and Environment Committee and is pending on the House floor. Read more about HB 2921 and how to contact the Oklahoma Legislature.
Rhode Island – Senate Bill 2193 sought to virtually eliminate the veterinary procedure commonly known as debarking from being performed in the state. The AKC strongly opposed SB 2193, and worked with Rhode Island constituents and other allied organizations in opposition to the bill. The bill was considered by the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, February 15, 2012, which held the bill for further study. AKC GR does not expect the bill to be reconsidered this session.
Texas – The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has until March 31, 2012 to draft new dog breeder regulations that will accompany the implementation of HB 1451, the breeder regulation bill that passed during the 2011 legislative session. A Licensed Breeders Advisory Committee has been formed. There are two breeder representatives on the committee, but because the statute requires that they be "licensed breeders," they will not be able to vote. The first public draft of the proposed regulations has been published and is open for public comment. AKC GR will continue to provide updates and information about the draft regulations as they become available. Affected breeders will have until September 1, 2012, to come into compliance with the regulations and obtain a license. Read more about the proposed rules and how to submit comments.
Virginia – House Bill 158 sought to add debarking to the state’s definition of animal cruelty and charge anyone who performs the practice with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee recommended to postpone this legislation until 2013, meaning that it will not be considered this year. AKC GR sent a letter of opposition to the subcommittee, issued a Legislative Alert, and worked with the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs & Breeders to educate the sponsor and subcommittee on this issue. Read more about this victory.