News from the State Capitols
Thirty-seven state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session. Including bills carried over from the 2011 session, AKC GR currently is tracking almost 1100 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 will 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 – Current Florida state law prohibits local governments from enacting breed-specific legislation. However, when the law was adopted it 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.
Nebraska – More changes have been proposed to an amended version of Legislative Bill 427, a bill that seeks to 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 the same strict engineering requirements and other standards as large, commercial facilities. The bill is pending in the Legislative Agriculture Committee.
New Hampshire – Senate Bill 370 seeks to impose ownership limits and other restrictions on responsible dog breeders and owners. If enacted, the bill would: limit any person from owning more than 50 intact dogs over the age of six months; require any person having more than 10 female dogs covered by the statute to provide specific care and conditions requirements (including limits on the frequency of breeding a female); mandate that tail docking be done by a licensed veterinarian and with anesthesia; and authorize any duly-appointed agent of a humane society, SPCA incorporated in New Hampshire, or animal control officer to investigate possible violations of this measure. The bill was considered by the Senate Executive Departments and Administrative Committee on Thursday, January 19, but no official decision has yet been made. AKC GR and the AKC’s New Hampshire federation are both opposing the bill. AKC GR has issued a legislative alert, notified the committee and sponsors of our opposition to the bill, and supplied AKC’s state federation Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS) with legislative intelligence.
New Mexico – A New Mexico senator had sought to introduce legislation for 2012 that would have declared all “pit bulls” dangerous, unless they were American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American pit bull terriers registered with the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club. Since the New Mexico Legislature has a short 30-day session in 2012, special permission was required by the Governor for the bill to be introduced. The AKC sent a letter of opposition to the sponsor and the Governor, and worked with local clubs to oppose such legislation. The Governor agreed to not allow this legislation to be introduced in the 2012 session.
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, and not with the impounding organization, as AKC GR believes they 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 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 bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in June, and unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 10. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the Ohio Senate.
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. While numerous amendments were made in 2010 to a previous version of this bill, many concerns remain including a definition of “kennel” that could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog and burdensome standards for “high volume breeders.” These standards include concerns such as basing enclosure requirements on a dog’s weight, rather than height or length and arbitrary temperature mandates for kennels that do not account for the needs and tolerances of various breeds. Numerous hearings have been conducted by the Senate Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Committee, but no vote has yet been taken. AKC GR has submitted numerous letters of concern and a request for amendments, and continues to work with its Ohio federation to address concerns with this bill. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the committee.
Oklahoma – The Oklahoma State Commercial Pet Breeders Board accepted written comments through January 17th on proposed changes to the administrative rules pertaining to those deemed commercial breeders in the state (anyone who owns 11 or more intact female dogs or cats over the age of 6 months "for the use of breeding..."). A public hearing on the proposed changes was held on January 17th. AKC GR issued an informational post, sent comments on the proposed changes, and worked with key Oklahoma residents to respond to the proposal. Read AKC’s letter of concern.
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 would add debarking to the state’s definition of animal cruelty and charge anyone who performs the practice with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill was heard in the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee on January 23. AKC GR has sent a letter of opposition to the subcommittee and issued a Legislative Alert. Read more about this legislation.
West Virginia – House Bill 2015 would 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. A similar bill passed the House in 2011, but was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee. House Bill 2015 has been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.