An important part of responsible dog ownership is making sure that you are aware of and in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations. Here are some highlights of measures on the federal and state levels that went into effect in 2013:
USDA/APHIS Regulations — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a revised regulation (also known as a final rule) regarding "Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions". The rule requires USDA licensing of certain breeders who maintain more than 4 "breeding females" and who sell animals as pets to buyers sight unseen. Visit AKC’s online Regulations Resource page for the latest information, including frequently asked questions and articles on options for breeders and fanciers. The new requirements went into effect on November 18, 2013.
|A Great Pyrenees is scanned for a microchip. Photo by Robert Young © AKC
North Carolina — AKC supported Senate Bill 626 , which makes several changes to the state’s animal code. Much of the bill amends the requirements for shelters. At AKC GR’s request, the bill was amended to make sure those shelters that have access to microchip scanners use them to help identify lost dogs when they come into the shelter. It is hoped this will help reunite lost dogs with their owners more quickly and minimize the dog’s time in the shelter.
Those traveling with dogs in North Carolina should also be aware that the bill also provides the ability for animal control officers, firefighters, rescue squad workers, and state-appointed animal cruelty investigators to enter motor vehicles if there is probable cause that the animal confined in the vehicle is in circumstances that are likely to endanger or cause injury, suffering, or death. A reasonable effort must first be made to locate the owner or person responsible for the animal. This bill took effect in July 2013.
Ohio — A law became effective in Ohio in March 2013 that requires licensing for all commercial dog breeders, defined as those who produce 9 litters of puppies AND sell 60 dogs/puppies in a calendar year (both requirements must be met for the law to apply). Licensing requirements include obtaining a surety bond or liability insurance, submitting to a background check, and filing an affidavit that confirms compliance with the standards of care. View the full list of requirements and license forms here.
The new law also requires rescues operating in the State of Ohio to register with the state. Rescues are not required to comply with any of the other requirements set out for commercial dog breeders, and there is no charge for the registration. View the rescue registration form here.
The registration requirements took effect on January 1, 2014. For more information on the commercial dog breeder laws and rescue registration, visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) website.
Pennsylvania — House Bill 82 addresses payment and care for animals seized when the owner is accused of cruelty. If the owner fails to pay the amount required by the court at any time during the proceedings, then ownership rights will be permanently forfeited. Positive amendments were added to limit the cost to $15 per animal per day, and to prevent the animals from being sterilized during an ongoing trial. If payments lapse, owners will be given 30 days to comply prior to losing ownership rights, and if they are ultimately found not guilty or charges are dismissed, the owners will be refunded. The law took effect in September 2013.
Vermont — House Bill 50, which deals with several aspects of animal ownership in the state, marked the culmination of a multi-year effort by the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs and other groups at making some much needed improvements to Vermont's animal laws. The AKC supported H 50 and the Vermont Federation's efforts. Changes to Vermont law include increasing the threshold for kennel licensure from those who keep two or more domestic pets to those who sell three or more litters in a year. Inspections of licensed kennels must now be scheduled in advance, and may only include the areas used for animal housing, care, bedding, whelping, and food storage. No photos or videos may be taken without written consent. The bill also updated the state’s consumer protection laws. Read more about the positive law changes in Vermont. The law took effect on July 1, 2013.
West Virginia — Senate Bill 437 requires “commercial breeders” (defined as those who own 11 intact dogs kept for the exclusive purpose of active breeding) to obtain an annual permit and business license and consent to unannounced inspections twice each year. Some exemptions are included for those who keep or breed dogs “for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials…” Some positive amendments were made to the bill prior to passage, including removing a limit on animal ownership and allowing breeders up to one year to correct deficiencies prior to being charged with a misdemeanor. Read more about this new law. The law went into effect on July 11, 2013.
These are a few highlights of the new laws that took effect in 2013, and do not include any local laws that may have changed in the past year. Please take a few moments this month to contact your local animal control to make sure your state or community did not make any changes to their laws in 2013 regarding dog ownership or breeding. These changes could include licensing, vaccinations, permits, or even zoning (what activities are permitted in a residential area).
Looking ahead — 2014 elections
A critical factor in the fight to protect responsible dog ownership and breeding is to elect dog-friendly lawmakers. Elections will be held across the country this year to elect congressional, state, and local lawmakers. Contact your state’s election office to obtain a voter registration form and to find out if your state has “open” or “closed” primaries (meaning if those registered as Independents can vote in the primaries). Also, be sure to inquire about the registration deadline for voting in your primary and general elections.
Stay tuned to future issues of Taking Command for more information on how to get involved in the elections and help elect candidates who will protect your rights as responsible dog owners and breeders.