AKC 2010 Legislative Successes
The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through December 31, 2010. Many other victories not included in this list have been won by other AKC federations, clubs, and responsible dog owners and breeders around the country who work tirelessly to promote positive canine legislation in their state and community.
To view all Legislative Alerts posted for your state in 2010, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the AKC 2010 Legislation Tracking page. To see a list of legislative successes from 2009, click here.
United States Congress – Several victories for dog owners and breeders were seen on Capitol Hill in 2010:
S.3424/ H.R.5434 – This legislation, known as the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, would have required all breeders who breed and sell more than 50 puppies in a 12-month period to be regulated under USDA dog dealer regulations. Requirements would have included obtaining an annual USDA license, maintaining minimum federal standards of care, and regular inspections at least biennially. It also would have required that breeding dogs receive daily access to exercise that is sufficient to maintain normal muscle tone and mass, the ability to achieve a running stride, and is not a forced activity. Congressmen Dan Boren (D-Okla.) and Paul C. Broun, M.D., (R-Ga.) drafted a "dear colleague" letter outlining concerns with this legislation. The AKC also expressed a number of concerns with the measure, and sent updates and information to AKC clubs and breeders. AKC also sent a letter of concern to all members of Congress. No hearings were scheduled for either bill.
H.R. 5422 – This bill sought to provide grants to states that ban debarking "for purposes of convenience". The grants, which may be up to $1 million, had to be used to fund "activities that prevent or promote the prevention of cruelty to animals". This bill was been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, but no hearings were scheduled.
House Concurrent Resolution 160/Senate Resolution 393 – In late February, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 393 unanimously by a voice vote. This measure honored the AKC on its 125th anniversary and recognizes the AKC’s many years of good works and contributions to responsible dog ownership and breeding. SR 393’s companion bill, House Concurrent Resolution 160, was sponsored by 55 Representatives and unanimously approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 419-0 on December 16, 2009. Read more about this congressional resolution.
Alabama – Senate Bill 18 sought to establish a statewide mandatory spay/neuter law. AKC Government Relations (GR) worked closely with the Alabama federation on strategy to defeat the bill. The bill never received a hearing. A similar bill introduced in 2009 did not receive a hearing.
Arizona – House Bill 2375 sought to ban the ownership, sale, and transportation of “dangerous wildlife”. As introduced, HB 2375 would have defined all carnivores as "dangerous wildlife" with no exceptions, thereby banning Arizonans from owning and selling dogs in the state. The bill was amended to clarify that domestic animals were exempted. GR continued to work with the sponsor and other stakeholders to address remaining concerns. HB 2375 passed the House Natural Resources & Rural Affairs Committee but is not expected to advance further this session.
Arkansas – Arkansas fanciers and breeders have had two local victories in 2010:
Crawford County, AR – The Crawford County Quorum Court rejected breed-specific legislation, and instead drafted a general dangerous dog ordinance. AKC GR has sent the court a letter thanking them for their actions and providing samples of dangerous dog ordinances that have been successful in other jurisdictions.
Springdale, AR – The Springdale City Council tabled proposed changes their animal control laws, including ownership limits, breeder license fees, and excessive penalties for intact animals. AKC GR sent numerous materials to a local kennel club to assist their efforts in fighting the proposal. GR also notified clubs and AKC officials in Washington County, AR, of the public hearing and encouraged them to attend.
California – California dog owners had two major victories in 2010:
Senate Bill 250 – SB 250 sought to mandate sterilization of animals on a second animal control violation in a lifetime and could have prevented the owner from ever owning an intact animal again. GR sent numerous letters to key legislators and alerts to California constituents, posted many Legislative Alerts, and worked closely with numerous local clubs to defeat this legislation. The bill failed in the General Assembly by a vote of 28-40.
Auburn, CA - The City of Auburn rejected a series of unreasonable animal control proposals, including a mandatory spay/neuter for “pit bulls” (defined as American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers) and a 2-dog ownership limit for all dog owners. GR sent numerous letters and resources to the city council and several updates and talking points to local AKC judges, officials, and clubs.
Florida – Dog owners and breeders in Florida had several victories in 2010:
House Bill 543/Senate Bill 1276 – These bills sought to eliminate the state’s existing prohibition of local breed-specific dangerous dog laws. S.1276 passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee with an amendment on March 4, but died in the Senate Agriculture Committee. HB 543 never received a hearing. AKC GR produced legislative alerts and worked closely with the Florida federation to defeat this proposal.
Senate Bill 122– This bill sought to require those defined as “pet dealers” (selling 20 or more dogs per year) to provide a written disclosure to dog buyers that impugns the genetic health of purebred dogs. It also attempted to unreasonably raise penalties for violations of Florida’s consumer protection law up to $10,000. The bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC GR posted Legislative Alerts and worked closely with the Florida federation in an effort to defeat this proposal.
Jacksonville, FL – the Jacksonville City Council amended a problematic animal control ordinance prior to passage. While some concerns still remain, modifications were made to mandatory sterilization requirements for impounded dogs, mandatory microchipping requirements, overly-broad dangerous dog provisions, and definitions and licensing requirements for hobby and occasional breeders.
Georgia - The Douglasville City Council rejected a proposed breed-specific ordinance that would have placed restrictions on the ownership of "pit bulls." The AKC GR department sent a letter explaining the ineffectiveness of breed-based restrictions and worked to support the work of the Georgia Canine Coalition in educating council members about this important issue.
Illinois – The Elgin City Council voted unanimously against a proposal which would have deemed “pit bulls,” defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and any dog exhibiting the characteristics of these breeds to be dangerous dogs. Owners would have been required to confine the animals in a specified manner, purchase $100,000 worth of liability insurance, and sterilize their dogs. GR contacted the city council in opposition to these changes and worked with local residents and clubs to help them communicate their opposition to the measure.
Indiana – Indiana dog fanciers and breeders have had several successes this year:
Senate Bill 5 – Senate Bill 5 sought to add baiting and animal fighting contests to the list of offenses qualifying as racketeering and to ban the breeding of dogs for these purposes. “Baiting” is defined as provoking or harassing an animal with another animal. The AKC sent a letter to the sponsor requesting an amendment that clarifies that recognized, sanctioned performance events; lawful hunting; and training for law enforcement purposes would be permitted. AKC also requested that breeding dogs for these lawful purposes be expressly permitted in the bill. The bill never received a hearing.
Anderson, IN – The Anderson City Council has rejected a proposal that would have mandated sterilization for all dogs over six months of age unless the owner purchased a $100/year breeder’s permit. The permit would have been required regardless of whether or not the dogs were being bred, and would limit breeders to one litter every 12 months. The AKC’s Indiana federation sent letters and testified at the hearing, along with local concerned residents. The AKC supported their efforts by sending a letter of opposition and notifying local AKC clubs, officials, and judges of the hearing. An advisory committee is being formed to develop a more positive solution to the city’s animal population concerns.
Elkhart, IN – The Elkhart City Council voted against adopting a breed-specific dangerous dog policy that would have banned the ownership of “pit bulls” in the city. GR drafted several letters of concern and worked with the AKC federation for Indiana and other local breeder organizations in opposition.
Jackson County, IN – The Jackson County Commission rejected several new breeder regulations, including requiring licenses and inspections for anyone breeding a dog. The AKC’s Indiana federation and local residents testified in opposition to the regulations at the meeting and the AKC provided a letter opposing the regulations and notified local residents of the meeting.
Iowa – The Cedar Rapids City Council rejected a number of changes to its animal control ordinance, including differential licensing for intact and sterilized dogs. A discounted multiple dog license was proposed, but only for owners of sterilized dogs. The proposal also included new, vague definitions for "potentially dangerous" and "dangerous" animals and could require sterilization for any dog that bites once, regardless of the severity of the injury. AKC GR notified AKC parent clubs and local kennel clubs and officials about the proposal and hearing, and sent a letter to the council expressing AKC’s concerns with the proposal.
Kansas – The Topeka City Council has repealed their breed-specific ordinance, which restricted the ownership of American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and any mixed-breed dog with the characteristics of these breeds. AKC GR sent a letter supporting the repeal and packets containing sample dangerous dog ordinances to the city attorney and city council members. AKC GR also asked local fanciers and breeders to contact the council in support of the proposed repeal.
Michigan – Michigan dog owners have seen several victories in 2010:
Dearborn Heights, MI – After considering breed-specific legislation, the Dearborn Heights City Council decided to pursue other alternatives in dealing with dangerous dogs in the city. AKC sent letters and issue briefs to the council in order to help them make this decision, and contacted local owners and advocates to attend the council meeting.
Rochester Hills, MI – The Rochester Hills City Council considered four alternatives for dealing with dangerous dogs in the city, three of which were forms of breed-specific legislation. AKC sent letters and issue briefs to the council expressing our interest in keeping the city BSL-free. After deliberation and a public hearing, the city decided to pursue a non breed-specific course of action.
St. Clair County, MI – The St. Clair County Commission tabled a proposal that would have limited ownership to 10 dogs of any age, banned debarking, and implemented numerous breeding restrictions. The AKC sent a letter to county officials and worked with AKC’s Michigan federation and local fanciers and breeders to provide alternative solutions.
Sterling Heights, MI – The Sterling Heights City Council unanimously rejected a proposed ordinance to restrict ownership of "pit bulls." The council instead proceeded with a breed-neutral dangerous dog ordinance that addresses all dogs on the basis of their behavior. AKC GR sent a letter opposing breed-specific restrictions and notified local dog owners who worked to educate their legislators about this important issue.
Minnesota – Senate File 7 would have imposed onerous regulations on owners/breeders who possess six or more adult intact female dogs. AKC GR provided extensive assistance to help defeat the measure. On March 9, the Minnesota Senate Agricultural and Veterans Committee voted the bill down, effectively prohibiting further consideration of this measure. AKC GR posted Legislative Alerts and worked with local clubs to address this bill.
Missouri - The Kirksville City Council rejected a proposal that sought to ban all “pit bulls”, along with a long list of exotic animals including sharks, wolverines, and piranhas. AKC GR sent letters to the city council and alerted local breeders and dog owners of the proposal. The city council removed the ordinance from their agenda.
Montana – The City of Butte-Silver Bow rejected a citizen proposal to place restrictions on certain breeds. No official draft was ever written. GR sent a letter opposing BSL and packets of information to the commissioners with sample legislation for more effective dangerous dog laws.
Nebraska – The City of Omaha relaxed its animal control ordinance, removing muzzling requirements for “pit bull” puppies under six months of age, and significantly reducing the retrieval fees for owners of intact dogs. AKC GR sent a letter to the city council encouraging this measure as a first step towards eliminating breed-specific discrimination in the city.
New Hampshire – House Bill 1624 sought to impose many unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on responsible dog breeders and owners, including ownership limits, onerous care and conditions standards for certain breeders, and severe limitations on the practices of debarking and tail docking. The New Hampshire House Environmental and Agriculture Committee considered the bill on Thursday, January 21; and more recently voted the bill “inexpedient to legislate”. GR worked closely with its New Hampshire federation, the Dog Owners of the Granite State, to oppose several provisions of this bill and issued a number of alerts and sample letters for concerned residents.
New Jersey – Two victories in the fight against BSL have been won in New Jersey municipalities:
Garfield, NJ – The Garfield City Council voted against a proposal that would have placed numerous restrictions on “pit bull” owners. “Pit bull” was defined as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and any dog that has the characteristics and appearance of these breeds. Restrictions would have included muzzling the dog anytime it is not on the owner’s property, specific leash requirements, and prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from walking one of these breeds. Owners would also have been required to purchase $50,000 of liability insurance. The AKC contacted local lawmakers and notified local clubs and AKC officials of the hearing.
Lodi, NJ – The Borough of Lodi rejected discussions of restrictions on “pit bulls” and possibly other breeds. The AKC sent a letter to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Borough Council opposing breed-specific legislation and providing more positive alternatives.
Mahwah, NJ – The council unanimously rejected an ordinance that sought to ban dogs from all township parks. The council will now work with local clubs and dog owners to come up with a reasonable solution to the town’s concerns. The AKC supported the efforts of local citizens and AKC’s state federation for New Jersey by submitting a letter, which was publicly read into the council’s minutes.
New York – Responsible dog owners in New York have seen several municipal victories in the fight against breed-specific legislation:
Assembly Bill 5507 – This bill, known as "Charlemagne’s Law", sought to amend the state’s existing definition of "pet dealer" to include those who sell or offer to sell more than five (reduced from nine) dogs or cats per year at wholesale or retail. It also would have reduced the current breeder-retailer exception from fewer than 25 dogs or cats per year to 10 dogs or cats per year and impose new restrictions on "pet dealers". The AKC sent a notification to New York residents and clubs, and posted an online Legislative Alert. A.5507 was been held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
Newstead, NY – The Newstead Town Council decided not to pursue an ordinance that would impose a three-dog ownership limit and require public muzzling for “pit bulls”. The AKC sent a letter expressing concerns with the proposal, and local media cited AKC’s letter as one of the reasons the council changed its course. The Council has set up a committee comprised of breeders and dog owners to develop a more effective proposal.
Rockville Centre, NY – Rockville Centre repealed a law that prohibited “pit bulls” and Rottweilers in the village. GR sent a letters to the mayor, city council and city attorney informing them of the New York state law that prohibits breed-specific legislation and provided materials including model dangerous dog laws to local fanciers for their meetings with local lawmakers. GR also sent alerts to local AKC clubs, officials, and judges informing them of the public hearing to repeal the law and encouraging them to attend.
Suffern, NY – The Village of Suffern rejected a proposal that would have declared all Rottweilers “vicious” and subject to certain breed-based restrictions. Owners of American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers are already subject to such restrictions. A dangerous dog advisory committee is being formed. GR sent out an alert to residents and affected parent clubs, sent a letter to the village board, and worked with the NY federation and local concerned residents to defeat this proposal.
North Carolina – North Carolina dog owners have seen two victories in 2010:
Senate Bill 460 – After a two-year legislative battle, Senate Bill 460 was finally defeated when it was pulled from consideration by the House Finance Committee. SB 460 sought to place unreasonable, costly, and confusing restrictions on dog breeding in North Carolina. GR supported the work of the AKC’s state federation and coalition partners, including distributing materials at public events, sending numerous communications to legislators and AKC clubs, breeders, and registrants, and posting Legislative Alerts with the latest information. Read more about this victory.
Rockingham County, NC – The Rockingham County Planning Board tabled a proposal that would have deemed any resident owning 6 or more dogs to be a private kennel and anyone owning 10 or more domestic animals (dogs, cats or other household pets) as a commercial kennel. The measure also placed expensive and burdensome regulations on responsible owners and breeders. AKC encouraged local clubs to oppose the measure and communicated its concerns to the planning board.
Ohio – Ohioans had several victories in 2010:
Senate Bill 95 - This bill sought to regulate "high volume" dog breeding in Ohio. Numerous amendments were added to address many of the AKC’s concerns, including ensuring breeder representation on the new Kennel Control Authority Board and eliminating the limits on breeding ages. Other problematic provisions remained, however, including a definition of "kennel" that could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog and problematic standards for "high volume breeders". The bill passed the Senate State & Local Government & Veterans Affairs Committee, but was held on the Senate floor. The AKC sent numerous letters to key committees and legislators, held a conference call with Ohio breeders, participated in a stakeholder meeting, and sent several alerts to local clubs and breeders.
House Bill 570 - This legislation sought to provide an alternative to Senate Bill 95. It defined a commercial breeder as anyone who maintains at least five dogs used for breeding; promotes, advertises, operates, supervises, or manages the business of breeding dogs; or sells, leases, trades, barters or auctions dogs. The bill also limits ownership to 50 dogs; bans debarking, ear cropping, and tail docking; and allows for inspections and seizure of animals regardless of whether the kennel owner is present. The bill was never assigned to committee. AKC GR posted a legislative update online to notify local clubs and breeders of the proposal.
Bellbrook, OH – The Bellbrook City Council agreed to raise the dog ownership limit from 2 dogs to 4 dogs and provide a grandfather clause for those currently over the dog limit. AKC GR sent a letter to the council supporting the amendment as a positive first step and urging them to repeal the limit law in its entirety.
Toledo, OH – The Toledo City Council unanimously repealed the city’s long-standing ban on "pit bulls" in October 2010. The law also allowed any dog considered to be a "pit bull" found at large to be seized and potentially euthanized. AKC GR sent letters and materials to the new Lucas County Dog Warden and the city’s new Dangerous Dog Advisory Committee in Spring 2010 urging repeal of the breed-specific law and providing assistance in developing more effective dangerous dog laws. GR also sent a letter of support to the mayor and council once the repeal was formally introduced and notified local dog owners and AKC parent clubs of the upcoming vote and encouraged them to contact the council as well.
Oklahoma – The Oklahoma State Board of Commercial Pet Breeders sought to pass numerous onerous and stringent requirements on commercial dog breeding. This was in response to Senate Bill 1712, which passed the legislature earlier this year. AKC GR submitted numerous comments and recommendations to the board and notified local AKC clubs and breeders of the hearings and the opportunity to provide input. While some concerns still remain, a number of the AKC’s most significant concerns were addressed.
Rhode Island – Senate Bill 2022 sought to outlaw keeping any dog outside, tethered, penned, caged, fenced or otherwise confined for more than one hour without access to an "outdoor housing facility" unless the person in charge of the dog was also outside with it. The measure also used "guardianship" language, which could undermine owners’ legal rights to their animals, and authorizes local humane society personnel to act as enforcement officers without requiring standard legal and procedural training. The bill passed the Senate, but was held in the House Judiciary Committee. AKC GR sent letters to key committees, posted Legislative Alerts, and worked with local Legislative Liaisons to oppose issues of concern.
Texas – Texas dog owners in two communities have had victories this year:
Gladewater, TX – The Gladewater City Council decided to not proceed with an ownership limit law. AKC GR sent materials that explain the problems with limit laws and provide more positive and effective solutions. A local fancier distributed these materials to the council members.
Lubbock, TX – The Lubbock City Council rejected changes to the city’s animal control ordinance including mandatory spay/neuter or differential license fees, litter permits, mandatory microchipping, bans on pet sales and breeder permits. The council will instead consider moving the animal services board under the jurisdiction of the local police department to improve enforcement. AKC GR staff sent materials to local clubs and fanciers to help them communicate the problems with the proposals and more positive and effective solutions.
Virginia – The Madison County Board of Supervisors has rejected proposed changes that would have outlawed all dog breeding in residential areas and put significant restrictions and burdens on breeders in conservation and agricultural districts. AKC Government Relations worked with local owners and breeders to oppose the changes and contacted the Board of Supervisors to express specific concerns and recommend alternate options to address dog issues within the county.
Wisconsin – Responsible dog owners in Wisconsin have had two legislative victories in 2010:
Assembly Bill 793 - The Wisconsin Legislature adjourned prior to giving final approval to AB 793, which sought to amend statutes regarding the seizure and subsequent care of animals whose owners are suspected of mistreatment or dog fighting. Among other provisions, the bill would have allowed for those contracted to care for seized animals to petition the court to euthanize, sell, or otherwise remove the animal prior to the conclusion of the trial. Furthermore, an animal would have been considered "unclaimed" if the owner failed to pay an amount mandated by the court for care of the animals within 5 days. The owner would not be refunded the money paid, regardless of whether there was a guilty verdict. The AKC sent a letter of concern; provided legislative alerts; notified Wisconsin clubs and breeders; and worked with AKC’s Wisconsin federation to defeat this proposal.
Marshfield, WI – The Marshfield City Council rejected a proposal to adopt breed-specific legislation in the community after a child was attacked by a pit bull/Rottweiler mixed-breed dog. The AKC GR department sent sample legislation and information on more positive alternatives to a local fancier to distribute to the council. AKC GR also sent a letter of concern to the mayor and council.
Sheboygan, WI – The Sheboygan Common Council unanimously rejected an ordinance severely restricting ownership of "pit bulls," defined as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers or mixed-breed dogs with similar characteristics. The ordinance would have required owners to muzzle their dogs, and purchase liability insurance in the amount of $300,000.00, among other restrictions. The AKC GR department sent a letter expressing our concerns with this measure and notified AKC parent clubs and local AKC clubs and officials of the proposal and hearing. AKC GR has also sent sample legislation and materials to the new dangerous dog policy task force to help them as they draft a more effective dangerous dog policy.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has approved regulations and licensing requirements for dog breeders who sell at least 25 dogs from more than 3 litters per year. While some concerns still remain, many of the issues raised by the AKC and its state federation were addressed. The regulations must now be formally approved by the Wisconsin Legislature when the session reconvenes in 2011. AKC GR submitted several letters of recommendation to the department, notified local clubs and breeders of the hearings and opportunity for comment, and worked closely with AKC’s state federation to address concerns with these regulations.