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AKC 2009 Legislative Successes

The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' legislative successes through December 31, 2009. Many other victories not included in this list were won by other AKC federations, clubs, and responsible dog owners who worked tirelessly at their state legislatures and in their communities to promote positive canine legislation. To view all legislative alerts posted for your state, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the AKC 2009 Legislation Tracking page.

Alabama-SB 554 would have required all dogs 6 months or older to be spayed/neutered, with few exceptions. The AKC Government Relations Department issued a Legislative Alert on the bill and worked with the Alabama Canine Coalition in opposition. The Alabama Legislature adjourned without ever holding a hearing on this bill.

Arizona - House Bill 2550 sought to ban ownership of dangerous wildlife. This extensive list included all members of the scientific classification Canis familiaris, which includes all domestic dogs. The AKC wrote a letter to the sponsor of the bill expressing opposition to a ban on dog ownership. The Arizona Legislature adjourned without conducting a hearing on this bill.

Arkansas- The Pocahontas City Council considered breed-specific legislation. The AKC Government Relations Department sent information for local dog owners to present to the council members. The city council decided to not pursue breed-specific policies.

California- Responsible dog owners and breeders in California have seen numerous victories in 2009:

Senate Bill 250- As introduced, Senate Bill 250 required sterilization if a dog is at large, not licensed, and violates a local animal control ordinance - even on a first offense. While the first offense language has been removed, it still prohibits anyone who has ever had their intact license revoked from ever owning an intact dog again. AKC assisted the efforts of numerous fanciers and dog clubs, including posting Legislative Alerts, sending many letters to key committees and legislators, and contacting California clubs and AKC officials about the bill. The bill failed in the California State Assembly and will be reconsidered in 2010.

Assembly Bill 241- Assembly Bill 241 would have prevented any person or entity from owning more that 50 intact dogs or cats. The American Kennel Club Government Relations department opposed this bill throughout the legislative process, by sending letters to the author and committee members, posting Legislative Alerts, and alerting our California breeders to the impacts of AB 241. AB 241 was vetoed by the Governor.

Los Angeles, CA –The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Board unanimously rejected a proposal that would have redefined dog kennels and would have led to the end of dog breeding at kennel facilities. The AKC congratulates all the kennel operators, concerned breeders and responsible dog owners who worked hard to educate the commissioners about these issues.

Kern County, CA – After a series of public meetings, the Kern County Animal Control Department decided not to move forward with proposed revisions to the county’s animal control regulations. Proposed changes included a requirement that animals be sterilized if they are impounded three times, increased license fees for intact dogs, definitions and inspections for commercial and noncommercial animal facilities (as well as rescues and animal sanctuaries), higher fees for establishments maintaining intact animals, and changes to the animal care requirements. The AKC Government Relations Department worked with our local clubs and federations to alert residents about the public meetings.

Colorado House Bill 1172 would have limited the number of unsterilized dogs over 6 months of age that a breeder could keep on premises (excluding dogs being temporarily boarded) to 25. It also would have mandated annual certification by a licensed veterinarian before a dog could be bred, and would have authorized the commissioner of agriculture to promulgate rules for certification and to inspect premises or records at any time. On February 4, the Colorado House Agriculture Committee voted 7-5 to table the bill indefinitely.

Delaware - House Bill 95 sought to limit animal ownership and impose strict regulations on breeders. The AKC provided legislative analysis and a flier for legislators expressing reasons to oppose the bill as introduced. House Bill 95 never received a hearing.

Florida–Florida dog owners have had numerous victories in 2009:

House Bill 189/Senate Bill 922- These bills would have eliminated the current prohibition on local breed-specific regulation. The AKC contacted Florida breeders and club members and worked with the Florida federation to stop this legislation. Florida’s legislative session ended prior to action being taken. These issues have now been introduced in multiple sessions with no success.

House Bill 451- This bill sought to require spaying and neutering of all dogs over 6 months of age with very few exceptions. The AKC worked with the Florida federation to issue alerts and sample letters, contact thousands of Florida dog owners and breeders, and communicate anti-MSN arguments to legislators. Thanks to the overwhelming number of contacts, the sponsor removed the MSN language from the bill.

Senate Bill 2002- This bill would have limited the number of intact dogs a person may possess, imposed strict operational requirements upon anyone who possesses 10 or more dogs, imposed breeding restrictions, and allowed inspections by any law enforcement official on his own motion of any premises where dogs are kept. The AKC posted legislative alerts, notified Florida clubs and breeders, and worked closely with the Florida federation to defeat this bill. Despite procedural moves attempted by supporters, the bill only passed one committee and the session ended without further action being taken.

Hawaii–Hawaiian dog breeders and fanciers had two victories in 2009:

Senate Bill 79 – This bill sought to prohibit the ownership, possession, or sale of “pit bulls.” “Pit bull” was defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the physical traits of one or more of those breeds. Hawaii fanciers and dog owners held rallies and contacted the Hawaii Legislature to express their opposition. The AKC supported their efforts with legislative alerts, talking points, background information and information on contacting state legislators. The bill did not receive a hearing.

House Concurrent Resolution 221/ House Resolution 190- These resolutions directed the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to develop “breeding and pet care standards” without any public input or comment. They also included several offensive legislative findings, including the implication that those who breed a dog to a specific size or appearance may subject the dogs to “uncomfortable and tragic lives because their bodily and brain functions are inhibited.” The AKC sent a letter of opposition to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, notified Hawaii clubs and breeders about the resolutions and encouraged them to contact their legislators. The session ended before these bills received final approval.

Illinois- Illinois dog breeders and fanciers have seen two victories so far in 2009:

House Bill 198/ Senate Bill 53- These bills sought to establish strict restrictions on responsible Illinois breeders and limit ownership to 20 intact dogs over one year of age. The bills also required annual, unannounced inspections of private property and fingerprinting and background checks for all breeders who owned at least three “breeding” females. AKC posted numerous Legislative Alerts and worked closely with local fanciers and dog breeders to address concerns with these bills. These bills were tabled and a task force was established to further study dog breeding and sales in Illinois.

Senate Bill 139- This bill sought to ban ear cropping and tail docking in Illinois. The bill was amended to remove all language from the bill and remained a placeholder or "shell" if the sponsor decided to revisit the issue later in session. The AKC posted Legislative Alerts and sample letters, notified numerous fanciers, breeders, and AKC officials about the bills and sent letters to key legislators. The AKC also provided talking points and information for those meeting with legislators. The Illinois session adjourned with no further discussion on this bill.

Indiana–Indiana dog fanciers and owners have seen two victories so far in 2009:

House Bill 1468- As amended by the Indiana House of Representatives, House Bill 1468 contained numerical limits on dog ownership, strict breeding ages, warrantless inspections, and numerous other provisions restricting dog owners’ rights. The AKC provided numerous legislative alerts, sample letters, background information, legislative recommendations and talking points to constituents in Indiana. As a result, Indiana fanciers and breeders succeeded in removing the restrictive portions of the bill. HB 1468 has been signed by the Governor.

Indianapolis-A proposed Indianapolis City Council ordinance would have required sterilization of all “pit bulls”. The AKC sent a notification to fanciers and dog clubs in Marion County alerting them to the proposal and urging them to contact the City Council. The City Council has indefinitely postponed the ordinance.

Iowa- The City of West Liberty considered a proposal that would establish a breed-specific ordinance. The AKC sent a letter of opposition to the committee. The proposal was defeated.

Kansas- The Hays City Council discussed banning “pit bulls” after a small dog was killed by one. No formal draft was proposed, but the AKC sent a letter of concern. The AKC received a letter from a Hays City Councilmember stating that they would not be pursuing the proposal.

Louisiana – Louisiana breeders and fanciers have had 2 victories so far in 2009:

New Orleans- A mandatory spay/neuter proposal introduced by New Orleans Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell has been withdrawn.  This proposal would have required all dogs six months of age or over to be sterilized with few exceptions, as well as impose breeding limits and allow the Louisiana SPCA to be responsible for enforcement.  The AKC assisted the efforts of numerous local dog owners, fanciers, and breeders by writing letters, providing alerts and talking points, and hosting a conference call for concerned New Orleans clubs and dog owners.

Vermilion Parish – The Vermilion Parish Police Jury considered an ordinance to restrict the ownership of “pit bulls”. AKC staff wrote letters of opposition to council members and the Legal Counsel for the Policy Jury. In addition, AKC assisted local breeders and dog owners by providing them with talking points and information to provide to the Police Jury. The Parish decided to not move forward with the ordinance.

Maryland-The Maryland General Assembly introduced concurrent House and Senate bills to strictly regulate dog breeders through ownership limits, strict enclosure and exercise requirements, and many other provisions. Anyone owning 10 or more intact dogs over 4 months of age would be required to comply with the rigid engineering and exercise requirements, without regard to the fiscal impact this would have on responsible owners. The AKC worked closely with the Maryland Dog Federation and responsible dog breeders and fanciers to oppose House Bill 495 and Senate Bill 318. The AKC contacted hundreds of Maryland fanciers, dog club officials, and others about the bill and urged them to contact the Legislature and attend the committee hearing. We also provided sample letters, talking points, and additional materials. The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee gave an unfavorable recommendation to Senate Bill 318 and the bill is dead for this session. As a result, the House did not allow HB 495 to advance.

Massachusetts- Citizens of Mashpee, Massachusetts were successful in defeating a ban on “pit bulls”. This proposal sought to ban the ownership, possession, housing, harboring, or transportation of “pit bulls” within the town. “Pit bull” was defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any mixed breed displaying the majority of characteristics of at least one of those breeds. Current owners would be limited to one “pit bull” per household, forced to spay or neuter their dogs and obtain a $1-$2 million insurance policy. The proposal also allowed for seizure and euthanasia of “pit bulls”. The AKC assisted the efforts of the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners, as well as numerous concerned dog owners, by providing a letter to be read and distributed at the Mashpee Town Meeting. The town voted against the proposal.

Minnesota–Minnesota breeders and fanciers had numerous victories in 2009:

House File 253- This bill sought to place numerous restrictions on responsible breeders and allowed private contributions for the development and administration of the licensing program, thereby allowing them to have direct influence on licensing in Minnesota. The AKC wrote letters to the committees, notified breeders and fanciers in Minnesota, and posted numerous legislative alerts. The bill passed one committee but did not move forward.

Senate File 7/ Senate File 201- The Minnesota Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee considered two bills that would restrict the rights of breeders. SF 7 sought to require and provide for the licensing and regulation of dog and cat breeders by the Board of Animal Health through a number of new restrictions and penalties. This was the third year this type of breeders bill was introduced in Minnesota. SF 201 also sought to regulate breeders, but is significantly different from SF 7. AKC sent out Legislative Alerts on these bills and worked with local clubs and breeders to oppose these bills. The committee tabled the bills.

Missouri- House Concurrent Resolution 4 encourages dog training programs and kennel clubs to provide training and education for community pet owners that result in dogs obtaining “Canine Good Citizen®” (CGC) certificates. To date, the AKC Canine Good Citizen program has succeeded in having 43 states adopt resolutions recognizing this program. This resolution passed the Missouri Legislature.

Montana – Dog owners in Montana had two victories this year:

House Bill 191- This bill sought to prohibit the ownership, harboring, or keeping of dogs described as "pit bulls,” including Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and any dog that has the physical characteristics of these breeds. The Government Relations department posted 4 legislative alerts and provided sample letters to constituents. The bill failed in the Local Government Committee by an overwhelming vote of 17-1 in opposition.

Senate Bill 221- This bill sought to amend the definition of “animal hoarding” to include a number of dogs a person owns. The AKC opposed this bill, as it implied that the number of animals someone owns directly correlates to the care the animals receive. The AKC posted a legislative alert asking Montana residents to contact the committee and oppose the bill. The bill died in committee.

Nebraska– Legislative Bill 677 would have heavily regulated breeders and capped dog ownership at 75 dogs. GR worked closely with Nebraska constituents, posted an online alert, contacted breeders, and provided legislator contact information and talking points. The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee has postponed consideration of the bill indefinitely.

Nevada–Senate Bill 241 would have required all breeders, regardless of the number of dogs owned, to pay a $500 annual fee for the ability to breed and sell puppies and imposed numerous other excessive regulations. The AKC worked closely with Nevada dog clubs to defeat this legislation by providing information and talking points, as well as posting legislative alerts and contacting Nevada clubs and fanciers about the bill. The bill died in committee.

New Hampshire – New Hampshire fanciers and breeders had two successes this session:

House Bill 220- This bill would have created a new civil forfeiture action against animal owners. GR worked with key New Hampshire constituents to oppose the measure and provided alerts, letters, and talking points/background information to New Hampshire fanciers, dog clubs, and officials to aid those efforts. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has declared the bill “inexpedient to legislate,” effectively killing the bill for the remainder of the session.

House Bill 337- This bill would have prevented any dog owner from selling more than one dog or cat per year without a 60-day temporary license, and would have prohibited any breeder from obtaining more than two licenses in a year. GR issued a legislative alert, contacted affected fanciers, and provided background materials to help local breeders fight this bill. This measure was killed in committee.

New Mexico- The New Mexico House of Representatives introduced House Bill 667, which sought to label all “pit bulls”, Rottweilers, and any dogs with similar physical characteristics as dangerous dogs. This would have required owners of these breeds to comply with strict laws including mandatory spay/neuter. AKC published a legislative alert on this issue. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of contacts received from dog owners and fanciers, the sponsor agreed to remove the breed-specific language from the bill and instead focus on general dangerous dog legislation.

North Carolina- North Carolina fanciers and breeders celebrated two legislative victories:

Senate Bill 460- As originally written, Senate Bill 460 would have allowed for warrantless search and seizure and established numerous unenforceable requirements on North Carolina “commercial breeders”. While amendments were adopted, the bill still contained many problematic provisions. AKC worked with the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs and other like-minded organizations by sending out thousands of e-mail alerts, conducting legislative training sessions, and providing extensive legislative analysis, among other efforts. SB 460 passed the Senate, but the sponsor pulled it from consideration in the House Finance Committee, rendering the bill dead for the year.

House Bill 733- This bill placed numerous restrictions on responsible North Carolina breeders and limited the number of animals a person could own. The AKC posted numerous legislative alerts, sent letters to the committee, and notified fanciers at North Carolina dog shows. The bill was held in the House Agriculture Committee and never received a vote.

Oklahoma-As originally written, HB 1332 would have allowed for warrantless search and seizure and required that out-of-state breeders be licensed in Oklahoma to transport animals in Oklahoma for any purpose. AKC worked very closely with its Oklahoma Federation, sent numerous alerts to Oklahoma breeders and fanciers, and several letters to key legislators and committees. An amendment removed some of the problematic language, but some concerns remained. The bill passed the House and gained preliminary approval in the Senate. The bill was sent to conference committee, but senators on the committee refused to pass the bill, and HB 1332 did not move forward.

Oregon - House Bill 2852 required all “pit bull” owners to maintain $1 million in liability insurance. The AKC posted a Legislative Alert and sent a letter to the committee asking them to oppose this bill. This bill never received a hearing.

Tennessee- Tennessee breeders and fanciers confronted two major issues in 2009:

House Bill 386/Senate Bill 258- As originally written, House Bill 386 and its companion Senate Bill 258 placed numerous restrictions on responsible breeders, allowed for warrantless search and seizure, and placed a cap on animal ownership. The AKC posted numerous legislative alerts, sent letters to the Tennessee Legislature, and worked closely with the Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs and key fanciers and breeders to address concerns with these bills. The bill was significantly amendedto remove the most egregious provisions of the bill and was signed by the Governor.

Dandridge, TN - The Dandridge Board of Aldermen has rejected a proposed breed-specific ordinance and is working to draft an effective dangerous dog law. The AKC has sent a letter thanking the aldermen for not enacting BSL and has provided sample dangerous dog legislation.

Jackson, TN – The Jackson City Council rejected an animal control proposal that included mandatory spay/neuter and other ownership restrictions by a vote of 5-4 on November 3.  The AKC supported the work of local fanciers and breeders by sending a letter opposing the changes and notifying local clubs and breeders of the proposed laws.  The AKC congratulates the local concerned dog owners who attending the hearing and fought against the proposal.

White County- The White County Commission has decided not to pursue a breed ban proposed by the local sheriff in the wake of recent dog attacks in the area. The Commission has decided to work with concerned citizens to find more effective ways to address owners and animals that create problems in the community. The AKC sent a letter to the County Commission opposing breed bans and recommending alternative options for addressing community concerns.

Texas- Texas breeders and fanciers had several legislative victories this year:

House Bill 2310- The Texas Senate attempted to amend House Bill 2310, a straightforward bill dealing with advisory boards, to include breeder regulations and ownership limits. The AKC sent out a legislative alert and notified Texas breeders, clubs, and AKC officials about the amendments and asked them to contact the Senate. The breeder language was removed in conference committee.

House Bill 2732- This bill sought to regulate barking dogs by declaring a dog a nuisance if the barking is bothersome to a “reasonable person”. The vague language and ambiguous qualifications in determining whether a dog is a public nuisance made the bill unreasonable to responsible dog owners. The AKC posted a Legislative Alert asking Texans to contact the committee and express their opposition. The bill passed the House, but was held in the Senate.

House Bill 3180- The Texas Legislature adjourned without passing House Bill 3180, a bill that limited dog ownership, allowed for unannounced inspections at any time of day, and provided vague and extensive consumer protection language that offered little recourse to the breeder. The AKC sent out numerous legislative alerts and sent updates to Texas breeders, clubs, and AKC officials.

House Bill 1982-A bill was introduced in the Texas House of Representatives that sought to amend the state’s dangerous dog law. Among other provisions, HB 1982 defined a “vicious dog” as one that was capable of inflicting serious injury due to its physical type. A dog deemed to be “vicious” would not be allowed in public parks and could not be owned or handled by anyone under 21 years of age. The bill imposed a leash law that only applied to dogs over 40 pounds. The AKC posted a legislative alert with information on the bill and committee contact information. AKC also provided talking points and information to local dog owners. The bill was held in committee.

House Bill 4277/Senate Bill 1845– These bills sought to mandate sterilization of all dogs and cats in Texas with few exceptions. The AKC issued a Legislative Alert with sample letters, notified Texas breeders, fanciers, and AKC officials, and worked closely with the state federation in opposition. The bills never received a hearing.

West Columbia- The City of West Columbia considered banning or restricting ownership of specific dog breeds. The AKC sent a letter to the city council opposing the proposal and notified local club and AKC officials. The council decided not to proceed with the proposal.

Utah-The City of Ogden held a public meeting to consider instituting bans or restrictions on owners of certain dog breeds. The AKC sent a letter to the Ogden City Council opposing breed bans and also sent packets of information that included suggestions for more effective dangerous dog ordinances. The AKC also notified club and AKC officials in Ogden of the proposal. The city has opted to pursue a dangerous dog law that is not breed-specific.

Vermont- Senate Bill 137 was a lengthy economic bill that contained numerous legislative findings and new regulations relating to animal sales and consumer protection that provided no protection or recourse for those selling animals and little accountability for irresponsible dog purchasers. The bill also required any owner or keeper of at least one domestic pet over four months old to apply for a kennel license if they intend to breed or sell the animal. The AKC assisted the efforts of the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs by submitting a letter to the committee considering the bill. These provisions were removed from the bill.

Virginia– SenateBill 1151 would have imposed a mandatory spay/neuter requirement on dogs picked up by animal control more than once. The Government Relations Department notified more than 600 delegates, club officers and judges about this legislation and worked with the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs to oppose. The bill was defeated in Committee, 8-6.

West Virginia – House Bill 2843 would have imposed strict regulations on owners of 20 or more intact dogs and would have limited breeders to 40 intact dogs. GR issued a legislative alert and letters urging Agriculture committee members to oppose the bill. Bill supporters were unable to meet procedural requirements and the bill is dead for the remainder of the session.

Wisconsin– A proposed ordinance before the Oshkosh City Council would have required the sterilization of all animals with exceptions only for show animals, those temporarily in the city, and those animals a veterinarian says can not be sterilized. The ordinance would also have restricted ownership of Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and any dog that has the physical characteristics of these breeds. The Government Relations department sent a letter opposing the ordinance and sent information to the Oshkosh Kennel Club to distribute to council members. The city rejected the measure.