News from the State Capitols
Fifteen state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session, and one state is in special session. AKC GR is currently is tracking more than 1,350 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 email@example.com.
Here are some highlights of the state bills AKC GR is currently tracking:
California – Senate Bill 969 has been amended to allow the voluntary certification of pet groomers, defined as "an individual, licensed as a pet groomer, who bathes, brushes, clips, or styles a pet for compensation." The measure is pending before the full Senate.
California – Senate Bill 1221 would prohibit using dogs in the pursuit of a bear or bobcat. AKC GR joined other sportsmen’s organizations in expressing concerns that enactment of SB 1221 would set a precedent for outlawing others forms of hunting with dogs. AKC GR has sent letters to members of the Senate and alerted California performance clubs. The bill passed the Senate and will be sent to the Assembly for assignment to a policy committee.
Georgia – House Bill 685, which was supported by the AKC’s state federation, the Georgia Canine Coalition, revises dangerous dog provisions and requires registration, safety and indemnity measures as a condition of owning a dog classified as “vicious” or “dangerous.” The bill has been signed by the governor and becomes effective on July 1, 2012.
Hawaii – House Bill 108 was introduced as a dog fighting bill and passed by the House in 2011. The bill was amended late in the 2012 session to include provisions from Senate Bill 2494 and Senate Bill 2504. As amended, HB108 would have required owners of ten or more unsterilized dogs over the age of four months to pay a $500 biennial license fee, allow unannounced inspections, and comply with requirements detrimental to the safekeeping of dogs. The bill also would have prohibited ownership of more than 30 intact dogs and placed arbitrary restrictions on breeders. Recordkeeping violations and minor offenses unrelated to humane care could have resulted fines of $1000 per offense and confiscation of the dogs. AKC GR sent legislative alerts and letters of concern, and Hawaii club members and dog owners worked diligently to inform lawmakers about the inherent problems with the bill. HB108 passed in the Senate; however, the House disagreed with Senate amendments. The bill did not receive a conference committee hearing prior to end of session.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2492 would have designated every owner and keeper of ten or more intact dogs over the age of four months as a “large scale breeding facility,” even if the person bred no litters and sold no puppies. The bill would have established enclosure requirements detrimental to the care and safety of dogs, restricted breeding decisions, and prohibited ownership or custody of more than thirty intact dogs. AKC GR sent legislative alerts and submitted written testimony to lawmakers. SB2492 passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, but was not heard by the House Finance Committee.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2494 would have required owners of ten or more intact dogs to pay a $500 biennial license fee, allow unannounced inspections of their facilities, limited their ability to make decisions about breeding their dog, and prohibited ownership of more than 30 intact dogs. The bill further provided that those operating without a license or licensees in violation of any of the care or recordkeeping requirements could be charged fines of up to $1000 for each offense. AKC issued a legislative alert and submitted written testimony to lawmakers. The measure passed the Senate and was deferred by a House joint committee.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 2504, as introduced, would have prohibited selling or giving away an unsterilized cat or dog in the state. AKC GR submitted written testimony, sent letters of opposition, and issued a legislative alert. SB2504 received overwhelming opposition at a public hearing. The joint committee responded by passing amendments that deleted the mandatory sterilization provision and the bill passed in the Senate. As further amended in House committees, SB2504 would have established requirements for pet retailers and prohibited the sale or exchange of dogs and cats in a public place, except by humane societies, animal control, and rescue organizations. The bill did not advance to the House floor.
Louisiana – House Bill 163 would further restrict the maximum number of dogs a person may own or keep to 75 dogs. (Current statute limits ownership to 75 dogs over one year of age.) The bill also seeks to impose baseline care and conditions requirements, including prohibiting the stacking of cages – even temporarily at dog events – and all use of wire flooring. AKC GR issued legislative alerts on the bill and made numerous contacts with stakeholders. HB 163 was to be considered by the House Agriculture committee in April, but the bill was deferred. AKC GR remains engaged on this issue and continues to monitor all canine legislation developments in Louisiana. Read more about this legislation.
Massachusetts – House Bill 2809 would unnecessarily and severely limit keeping dogs outdoors and introduce guardianship language into Massachusetts law regarding animal ownership. The Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, but has not yet taken any action on this bill. AKC GR issued a legislative alert on the bill and continues to work with the Massachusetts federation and other concerned fanciers and enthusiasts in opposition to the bill.
Missouri – House Bill 1404 would declare December “Pet Breeders Appreciation Month” and recognize the contributions that responsible breeders make not only 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 of Representatives and is pending in the Senate General Laws Committee. 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” that which 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 of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a public hearing on April 30, 2012, but no action was taken. Read more about this legislation.
Missouri – House Bill 1934 would exempt shelters from state licensing fees. Current law requires kennels, pet shops and shelters to obtain a license and pay an additional annual $25 fee for “Operation Bark Alert” (the reporting mechanism for unlicensed breeders). HB 1934 exempts shelters from the license and administration fees (not the license itself). It also allows a shelter license application to be denied or revoked if “it is determined…that the [shelter] unreasonably profits from the charges for adoption or sales of the animals.” It also lowers the cap on license fees for commercial breeders from $2,500 to $1,000. The bill has passed the House of Representatives. The Senate General Laws Committee held a public hearing on May 1, but no action was taken.
New Jersey – Senate Bill 1840/Assembly Bill 2746 seek to impose numerous requirements on virtually all dog breeders in New Jersey, including licensing, inspections, and care standards, as well as onerous consumer protection provisions. SB 1840 was introduced on May 3, and was referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. AB 2746 was introduced on May 10 and referred to the Assembly Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. AKC GR, the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, and other allied groups are working together in opposition should these bills get any legislative traction.
New Hampshire – As introduced, Senate Bill 370 would have placed numerous restrictions and regulations on anyone who owns 10 or more female dogs. It also would have limited ownership to 50 intact dogs, mandated that all tail docking be done by a veterinarian, and allowed any local humane society, animal control officer, or SPCA to investigate complaints. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, sent a letter of concern to the committee, and worked closely with its New Hampshire federation to educate the committee on the many problems 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 domestic animal abuse laws. The bill has passed the Senate and is now under the consideration of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.
New York – Assembly Bill 259/Senate Bill 3806 would amend 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 the organization requests it, rather than the District Attorney. AKC GR 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 – Assembly Bill 3431 would ban the practice of debarking except for cases when it is deemed medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness, disease or injury or correct a congenital abnormality suffered by the animal that causes or may cause physical pain or harm. The bill would impose stiff penalties on violators, including a fine and/or imprisonment. Veterinarians in violation would be subject to license suspension or revocation. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts and letters of opposition to lawmakers. A. 3431 has passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee and is pending in the Codes Committee. Read more about this legislation.
New York – Assembly Bill 3507 would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to issue, renew, cancel or raise premiums for homeowners insurance based on the breed of dog owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if the dog has been declared dangerous based on current law, which also already expressly prohibits municipalities from passing laws that target specific breeds of dogs. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts, sent letters of support to lawmakers, and continues to work with its New York federation to help advance this measure. A. 3507 has passed the Assembly Insurance Committee and is pending in the Codes Committee. Read more about this legislation.
New York – Assembly Bill 3686/Senate Bill 946 would revise the definition of “property” in the state’s penal code to include pets. The measures also expand the penalty of grand larceny in the fourth degree to include pet theft. AKC GR has sent letters of support and issued legislative alerts encouraging New York residents to contact the Senate in support of the bill. SB 946 has passed the Senate Codes Committee and is pending on the Senate floor. A3686 is pending in the Assembly Codes Committee. Read more about this legislation.
New York – Assembly Bill 8146 would require a “backyard breeder permit” for anyone who breeds a female dog or other non-livestock animal for compensation. Licenses would be renewed annually and subject to an inspection of the breeder (or veterinarian’s) property. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture Committee. AKC GR has expressed strong concerns about this bill to the Assembly Agriculture Committee. The Agriculture Committee declined to advance this bill in a May 8 hearing.
New York – Assembly Bill 9655 would designate the German Shepherd Dog as the state dog of New York. The Assembly Governmental Operations Committee heard the bill on May 1, but did not advance it. The sponsor’s office has indicated that the bill may be reintroduced in 2013. AKC GR sent a legislative alert to New York clubs and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America notifying them of the bill and hearing.
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 removing problematic standards and ensuring that high volume breeders are represented on a proposed 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 continues to request 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. The House committee chairman has expressed an interest in further amending the bill. AKC GR and AKC’s Ohio federation continue to closely monitor SB 130. Read more about this legislation.
Oklahoma – House Bill 2921 and Senate Bill 1919 would make several positive changes to the state's dog breeder regulations. Changes include dissolving the controversial Commercial Pet Breeder Board and moving oversight to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Other changes include amending the definition of “adult animal” from 6 months of age to 12 months of age and the definition of “intact female animal” from a female 6 months of age to 9 months of age. The AKC believes that these measures are an important step toward fair oversight of dog breeders in Oklahoma. Both bills have passed and House Bill 2921 has been amended conference committee. The bills now await final approval.
Rhode Island – House Bill 7663 seeks to make it unlawful for a person to keep a dog outside for more than 14 hours during any 24-hour period. The AKC believes that the keeping of dogs in outdoor enclosures during appropriate weather conditions should not be subject to arbitrary time limitations. AKC GR is working with Rhode Island constituents and other allied organizations to address this concern.
Rhode Island – Senate Bill 2035 is similar to H 7663 (above), but would also make it a violation to “keep any dog confined in a pen, cage or other shelter for more than fourteen (14) hours during any twenty-four (24) hour period.” When read in combination with the definition of “shelter” in the bill, the prohibition could be read expansively to prohibit individuals from confining an animal in structures as large as their own homes. AKC GR and other allied organizations worked in opposition to the bill. The bill was considered by the full Senate in April, but was recommitted back to committee to address these concerns.
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 S.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, which held the bill for further study. AKC GR does not expect the bill to be reconsidered this session.
Texas – On March 27, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) adopted a new draft of the rules that will apply to licensed dog and cat breeders. The new draft puts most of the rules in line with USDA regulations. AKC GR has closely monitored developments in Texas, offered analysis and commentary on the proposal, and issued regular informational alerts on the draft regulations. AKC GR continues to work with AKC’s Texas federation and many concerned responsible breeders in Texas on this issue. Read more about these regulations.
Vermont – Senate Bill 142 would have established unreasonable new requirements for kennel permit holders and pet merchants. In late April, after months of stakeholder work, a memorandum of understanding was agreed to by legislative leaders and several animal interest groups, including the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs, to collaborate as a unified group. This group will create, by consensus, legislative proposals aimed at improving animal welfare and protecting responsible dog breeders. AKC GR continues to work closely with the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs to address areas of concern.