AKC Taking Command - a publication of the AKC Government Relations Department
February 2014
Local Issues

The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) assists dog owners with canine legislation issues in their local communities, but we can't help unless we are aware of the proposal! If you hear of an issue in your city or county, please contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org . We will be happy to provide you with the resources, tools, and support you need to help support and defend responsible dog ownership in your community.

Here are some examples of the local issues currently being addressed by AKC GR:

Albany, GA – The city commission approved on first reading an ordinance that would require registration of “pit bull” dogs, establish stringent enclosure requirements, and require owners to maintain $100,000 liability insurance or a $15,000 surety bond. The ordinance defines “pit bulls” as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of the breeds. The measure was tabled at the February 25 meeting.

Madison, WI – The City of Madison is seeking to require sterilization of “pit bulls” in an effort to address shelter overpopulation. The ordinance defines a “pit bull” as an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any mixed breed displaying similar physical characteristics. The Public Health Department of Madison and Dane County are permitted to inspect any dog to determine if it meets this definition. Exceptions include “show dogs”, provided the owner submits documentation with pedigree information and verification that the dog has participated in at least one AKC, UKC or ADBA conformation event in the past 365 days. This must continue for the life of the dog for the exemption to apply, and no female may produce more than one litter a year. Additionally, the owner must allow their “breeding facility” to be open for inspection. It is unclear what this would entail or what would be inspected, specifically if someone owns an intact dog but is not breeding. The proposal was approved by the Public Safety Review Committee and opposed on a 4-4 vote by the Board of Health. The proposal is expected to be considered by the Madison Common Council in the next few weeks.

Yakima, WA – The Yakima City Council voted to keep their breed-specific law in place, but is continuing to gather information and has indicated that the council will consider breed-neutral dangerous dog ordinances in the future. AKC GR has sent a letter to the council supporting a repeal of the breed-specific law and continues to work with local dog clubs and owners.

Breeding Restrictions

Pasadena, CA – The Pasadena City Council has chosen to defer proposed breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter proposal. AKC GR encourages local responsible dog owners to meet with their elected officials and educate them about the ineffectiveness of mandatory spay/neuter and breed-specific ordinances. AKC GR will provide further updates when this issue is back before the city council.

Lee County, FL – The Lee County Board of Commissioners enacted significant to the county animal control code including breeder licensing, warrantless inspections, mandatory spay/neuter and restrictions on keeping dogs outside (even in fenced yards). AKC GR and local fanciers strongly opposed this burdensome and ineffective measure. The commission did direct the animal control director to meet with interested stakeholders, including breeders to discuss possible modification prior to the May 1st effective date. A stakeholders meeting will be held on March 6th and details can be found here.

Houston, TX – The staff of BARC, the City of Houston's animal shelter and adoption facility, is drafting proposed updates to the city's animal ordinances. The original draft considered all breeding of dogs to be commercial and would have required all breeders to acquire commercial breeding permits. All non-commercial breeding of animals would have been outlawed. Because most land use in Houston is controlled by home owners' association covenants, which almost uniformly prohibit commercial activity on controlled lands, hobby breeding in Houston could have been effectively ended if the original draft had been adopted. BARC officials were provided with extensive explanations as to why the original proposal would be detrimental to responsible dog breeders. BARC ultimately responded by offering a new draft proposal that addressed most concerns of fanciers and enthusiasts. BARC is currently accepting further comment about the draft, and is expected to introduce the revised proposal in the Houston City Council. AKC GR is monitoring developments and will continue to work with Houston-area constituents to protect the rights of responsible breeders and enthusiasts in Houston.