AKC Taking Command - a publication of the AKC Government Relations Department
February 2014
News from the State Capitols

Forty state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session and bills have been prefiled in four states.  More than 1,200 state bills that could impact dogs and dog ownership have been filed or carried over from 2013. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2014 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 us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

Here are some highlights of the state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking:

ArizonaHouse Bill 2242 would define a “commercial dog breeder” as one who sells at least 20 dogs in a calendar year. It would require all who meet this definition to comply with the same requirements as pet stores.  This would include having females examined by a veterinarian prior to breeding and complying with the state’s consumer protection laws and basic standards of care. These standards include providing potable water and adequate nutrition, adequate space appropriate for the dog’s age, weight and breed, and a resting board or another object to allow the dogs to rest off a wire floor. No commercial breeder may sell a dog younger than eight weeks of age. AKC GR is monitoring this legislation, which has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Government and Environment Committee.

ArizonaHouse Bill 2530 modifies the state dog licensing laws, which currently apply to dogs that are at least three months of age. As amended by the House Agriculture and Water Committee, the County Board of Supervisors will be permitted to waive any penalties for up to 180 days in order to encourage licensing and vaccinations. Pet dealers, shelters and rescues that sell or offer dogs for adoption must provide the name and address of the person who obtained the dog within 90 days of the purchase and the county is only permitted to use this information for licensing purposes. The bill has passed the House Agriculture and Water Committee and is pending on the House floor.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1809 will make a technical, nonsubstantive change to the Polanco Lockeyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act, California’s consumer protection statute for dog breeders. We expect this legislation to be amended once it is in committee and will closely monitor it to ascertain how it will impact responsible dog breeders.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1965 would authorize retail food establishments to permit dogs in outdoor eating areas. It will also allow local governments to prohibit the practice.

Connecticut – Pursuant to HB 5027 , which passed in 2013, the State of Connecticut appointed a task force to investigate the sale of dogs and cats in Connecticut. It has held several hearings and meetings on the issue. Upon completion of the public hearings, it is expected that the task force will draft legislation for consideration in 2014 that would restrict pet sales. AKC GR is closely monitoring this process.

ConnecticutHB 6690 would allow courts to order that a separate, independent advocate be assigned to represent the interests of animals in any proceeding in which the welfare or custody of an animal is at issue. The measure passed the House and several Senate committees before being re-committed to the Senate Judiciary committee in 2013. AKC GR has learned that it is likely that this measure will be brought forward again in 2014. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and a letter that expressed concern with the unintended and potentially far-reaching consequences this proposal could have on the legal status of animals in the state. AKC GR and the Connecticut federation continue to work in opposition to this bill.

Hawaii – House Bill 2534, which would have required owners of 10 or more dogs age one year or older with intact sexual organs to register with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, was tabled by the House Committee on Agriculture.  Fanciers and kennel club representatives in Hawaii worked to oppose the measure and AKC GR sent a letter of strong opposition to committee members. 

HawaiiSenate Bill 414 SD2, which carried forward from the 2013 legislative session, seeks to require licensing of persons who own or have custody of ten or more intact dogs over the age of 12 months and sell more than 3 litters or more than 25 dogs per year. The bill would prohibit ownership or custody of more than 30 intact dogs over 1 year of age and prohibit breeding any dog older than age 8. It would allow counties to contract with any “dog protective agency” for seizure of dogs belonging to breeders not in compliance with any rule and dogs belonging to unlicensed breeders. Those operating without a license would be subject to a penalty of $1,000 per day, and any failure to comply with standards and recordkeeping requirements would be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts and sent letters of opposition.  SB 414 passed the Senate in 2013. It remains assigned to the House Economic Development and Business Committee in 2014.

IndianaSenate Bill 295 would require rescues not managed by cities or counties to comply with the same requirements as commercial dog breeders and acquire a $75 annual license. Cities and counties may enact applicable zoning and business laws on state-licensed commercial breeders and rescues as long as the laws do not prevent them from legally operating. If a breeder or rescue feels they have been adversely affected by a local law that violates the bill, then they may file an action in court for declarative and injunctive relief, as well as actual and attributable damages. The bill also states that any local laws regarding commercial breeders and rescues made on, before, or after July 1, 2014 that are stricter than state law are void. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

IowaSenate File 2254 would create many new restrictions and requirements for “commercial breeders”, which are currently defined as someone who has four or more intact dogs and receives any kind of consideration for breeding. Provisions of concern include significantly increasing license fees to pay for a new “animal rescue remediation fund” to pay for the “rescue” of animals from commercial kennels. All who meet the definition of commercial breeder would be required to open up their kennels for unannounced inspections and by 2016 the primary enclosures would have to be three times that required by USDA. In addition, breeders would be prohibited from being involved in certain rescue activities. The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is now pending on the Senate Floor. Read more about this bill and how you can help fight it.

KansasHouse Bill 2682 and Senate Bill 392 expand the state’s Pet Animal Act. Rescue networks would be required to keep records of all foster homes and to designate a manager to oversee intake of animals and maintain records on their premises. Both bills require a $10 fee per foster home, and a $125 annual license fee. The bills would also expand the definition of “animal breeder premises” to include any premises where all or part of six or more litters or 30 or more dogs or cats are sold, offered, or maintained for sale. Current law only applies to those who meet this definition and sell primarily at wholesale for resale to another. New provisions for “animal breeders” include mandating inspections, which are currently at the discretion of the state Department of Agriculture. The frequency of the inspections will be based on performance, and the perceived risk of the kennel or rescue being inspected. Both bills are pending in their respective Agriculture Committees.  A hearing was conducted on SB 392 on February 25.

Kentucky House Bill 409 would establish “minimum care standards” which, among other problematic provisions, would require pet owners to provide dogs and cats with “continuous access” to an exercise area. This requirement would criminalize many responsible pet owners, particularly apartment dwellers and others who may lack such facilities. Failure to provide such standards of care would be a crime of felony torture, and a conviction would include forfeiture and a prohibition against owning dogs and cats for three years. HB 409 would also allow officers to seize a dog or cat without due process or procurement of a warrant. A person whose animal was seized would be required to either relinquish ownership prior to adjudication or post a surety or cash bond for care of the animals. If found not guilty or if the charges were dropped, the owner would be reimbursed only the funds not used. HB 409 has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Maryland HB 73 and SB 247 create the rebuttable presumption that a dog owner should have known that their dog had dangerous propensities. HB 80 would hold dog owners liable for damages if the dog harms someone while running at large. A public hearing was held in the House Judiciary Committee on January 23. SB 247 received a favorable report from the committee on February 25. Read more about HB 73 and HB 80 and how to contact the committee.

Maryland House Bill 422 would prohibit counties and municipalities from declaring a dog “potentially dangerous” or a nuisance solely based on the dog’s breed. Local governments would also be prohibited from banning ownership of specific breeds. In addition, a homeowner or tenant may not be evicted or denied occupancy based on the breed of dog the resident owns. This does not prohibit landlords from banning dogs entirely, just banning specific breeds. AKC GR and its Maryland federation both support this measure, which was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on February 20. Read more about this legislation.

Maryland House Bills 665 and 667 and Senate Bills 659 and 660 would create unnecessary restrictions on several safe and accepted animal husbandry practices.  HB 665/SB 659 would allow only veterinarians to perform ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal or surgical births. The bill requires that the veterinarian use anesthesia for all these procedures. AKC is concerned about the bill because tail docking and dewclaw removal are typically performed when a puppy is very young, before its nerves are sufficiently developed to feel pain. Anesthesia would endanger or kill a very young puppy, and waiting until a dog is older would cause unnecessary pain and suffering. HB 667/SB 660 would prohibit debarking unless it is medically necessary to treat an injury or illness. AKC GR has alerted Maryland clubs and breeders and parent club officers and is sending a letter of concern to the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider the bills on February 20.  The Senate versions of the bill were heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 26.

MassachusettsHB 3762 , which was substituted for HB 1874/SB 401 on November 14, would require “an individual, or a partnership, association, corporation, or an officer or employee thereof that sells animals to the public” to be subject to extensive consumer protection laws. The bill would also prohibit the sale of puppies or kittens less than eight weeks of age, and specifically empower the Department of Agricultural Resources to make rules and regulations for commercial breeder kennels and personal kennels where persons keep at least six intact female dogs between one and eight years of age for the purpose of breeding such dogs and selling the offspring as household pets. The bill is currently under the cognizance of the House Ways and Means Committee.

MassachusettsSenate Bill 767 seeks to allow anyone to bring a legal action for the protection and humane treatment of animals, including those who do not have any legal interest or rights of possession in such animal. AKC GR is concerned that this broad language could allow radical animal rights activists to bring suit against any animal owner, regardless of the merits of the accusation. As a result, owners who are sued could be forced to bear extensive costs to defend themselves against unfounded accusations and could be subject to seizure of their animals, as currently permitted under Massachusetts law. AKC GR, MassFed, and other allied groups are opposing S. 767. Read more about this legislation.

MichiganHouse Bill 4168 makes updates to the licensing requirements in the state's "Dog Law of 1919". This includes removing the current provision requiring sheriffs to locate and kill all unlicensed dogs. Under current law, any sheriff that does not comply would be considered negligent in their duties. AKC GR and its state federation are supporting the repeal of this antiquated and egregious provision. The bill unanimously passed the House and the Senate Committee on Local Governments and Elections. It is pending on the Senate floor.

MichiganSenate Bill 560 would, among other provisions, limit the number of dogs that can be kept on a single premises and define a “large scale commercial breeder kennel” as one where more than 15 intact female dogs are kept for the purpose of breeding. The bill also includes new regulations and reporting requirements for animal control and animal protection shelters. The Senate Agriculture Committee heard testimony on this bill on October 31, 2013, but no vote has been taken. AKC GR sent a letter of concern to the committee, issued a legislative alert , and continues to work with the Michigan Association of Pure Bred Dogs to address concerns with this measure.

MissouriHouse Bill 1116 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. AKC GR supports this bill, which had a public hearing in the House General Laws Committee on February 11.

NebraskaLB 288, which was carried over from the 2013 legislative session, makes a positive change to the state’s definition of commercial breeder as requested by AKC GR.  Currently the law defines a commercial breeder as anyone who sells/offers to sell, exchanges, or transfers 31 dogs in a year; owns four or more dogs “intended for breeding” (which is presumed to be intact dogs); or whose dogs produce four litters in a year.  A person would only have to meet one of these criteria to be required to be licensed and comply with commercial breeder requirements. LB 288 would change this to require someone to meet all three of these criteria before being defined as a commercial breeder. The bill is pending in the Agriculture Committee. Learn more about how you can help support this bill.

Nebraska – LB 1002 would make two changes to the state’s commercial breeder laws. LB 1002 would require the Department of Agriculture to apply for a restraining order or injunction against any person violating or threatening to violate the law. State inspectors and law enforcement officers would also be required to impound dogs for alleged violations or an accusation. Currently, these provisions are optional and the Department of Agriculture and state inspectors may assess the situation to determine if further action is necessary. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Agriculture Committee on February 25. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the committee.

New YorkAssembly Bill 1204 / Senate Bill 2271 seek to ban the practice of canine "devocalization". The only exemptions are for instances when it is medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness or an abnormality causing pain or harm. Veterinarians who perform the procedure could have their license revoked. A.1204 passed the Assembly on January 23 and is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee. Read more about these bills and how to contact the Committee.

New YorkAssembly Bill 3952 prohibits insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel or raise premiums for homeowners’ insurance based solely on the breed of dog (or mixed-breed) 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. This bill was reintroduced for the 2014 session and is pending a vote by the full Assembly. Read more about this bill and how to contact the Assembly.

North CarolinaHouse Bill 930 would define “large commercial dog breeding facilities" as individuals who own 10 or more intact females over the age of six months. It also establishes care and conditions within criminal – rather than typical animal welfare – codes for this group. AKC GR has expressed strong concern with the definition of commercial dog breeder. Senate leadership has announced that due to some tactics used by some of the bill’s supporters, HB 930 will not be considered this year. AKC GR is conducting outreach with key officials to develop a long-term strategy for addressing these canine policy concerns in North Carolina.

Oklahoma House Bill 2637 revises local requirements regarding kennels. Under current law, a kennel (where 4 or more dogs are housed) may not be built within 2,500 feet of a school or day care. This bill modifies the law by stating that this prohibition applies solely to commercial pet breeders.  Commercial kennels already in existence are exempt.  HB 2637 passed the House Agriculture and Wildlife Committee on February 20.

PennsylvaniaSenate Bill 82 would make positive changes to the commonwealth's consumer protection laws. Among other changes, it clarifies that a dog cannot be declared "unfit for purchase" if the dog has intestinal or external parasites (unless the dog is clinically ill or dies), if the dog has an injury or illness likely contracted after the sale, or if the dog has a health problem that is disclosed in writing by the seller prior to the sale. The bill would also make reasonable changes to the timeframe for when a dog may be declared unfit for purchase and when the seller must be notified. It was amended by the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee to require rescues and shelters to provide certain information regarding the animal’s health care and known illnesses prior to sale. AKC GR and its Pennsylvania federation are supporting this measure, which had unanimous support in the Senate and is pending on the House floor. Read more about this legislation .

PennsylvaniaSenate Bill 1068 would make several amendments regarding field trials and dog training areas in the state. These amendments include making it unlawful for anyone to “willfully, negligently or maliciously” kill, injure or interfere with a dog engaged in training or field trials within a designated dog training area. It also makes it unlawful for someone to negligently or maliciously interfere with a person training dogs, participating in field trial events, or lawfully hunting or trapping in a designated dog training area. Another amendment changes the minimum area for dog training areas from 100 acres to 50 acres. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is pending in the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more about this bill .

Rhode IslandHouse Bill 7198 sought to roll back some of the state’s protections against local breed-specific legislation that were enacted in 2013 by permitting localities to mandate spay/neuter requirements on specific breeds. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and wrote a letter in opposition to the bill. Upon its consideration of the bill on February 6, the House Municipal Government Committee recommended that the bill be held for further study. The bill is not expected to be further considered during the 2014 session.

South DakotaSenate Bill 75 would prohibit local governments from enacting, maintaining, or enforcing breed-specific laws. The bill passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Local Government Committee. The American Kennel Club strongly endorses SB 75. Read more about this bill and how to contact the Committee.

TennesseeHouse Bill 2385 / Senate Bill 2468 seek to delete the provision that terminates the Commercial Breeder Act on June 30, 2014. If this measure passes, the current Commercial Breeder Act would remain in effect. Because these bills are written to "amend" the existing law, additional (and possibly problematic) amendments could be added during the committee process should the bills advance. HB2385 has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. SB 2468 will be heard by the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on March 12. Read more about this legislation.

UtahHouse Bill 97 seeks to protect the rights of responsible dog owners in Utah by prohibiting municipalities from adopting or enforcing any breed-specific rule, regulation, policy or ordinance. It further states that any current breed-specific rule or policy in the state is void. The bill narrowly passed House Political Subdivisions Committee and is pending on the House floor. Read more about this bill and how to contact the House in support of HB 97.

Vermont – Under current Vermont law, when someone is charged with animal cruelty, a prosecutor is permitted to bring an additional civil proceeding to determine whether the defendant should continue to own animals; and has to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant should not. However, as introduced, Senate Bill 237 would have mandated such a civil proceeding and would have lowered the burden of proof to a “preponderance of the evidence.” Furthermore, the bill failed to specifically provide for a right to appeal an order of forfeiture before property rights were extinguished, and failed to protect the rights of non-possessory co-owners to trump those of statutorily-cited parties of interest should the defendant be ordered to forfeit ownership. In light of several high-profile cases where animals were seized after defendants were charged with, but ultimately not found guilty of, animal cruelty and in which animals were permanently altered or sold, the AKC, joined by the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs, expressed concern that the permanent deprivation of property rights and interests that would be easier to achieve should SB 237 be enacted was a dangerous proposition for Vermont residents. The bill was considered by the House Judiciary Committee on February 18, which purportedly made several changes to the bill that addressed the AKC and Vermont Federation’s concerns. AKC Government Relations will analyze the text when it becomes available, and will continue to work with the Vermont federation in address SB 237.

VirginiaSenate Bill 228 would modify the Commonwealth’s consumer protection laws. Changes include requiring pet stores and USDA pet dealers who advertises a dog or cat for sale in Virginia – including Internet advertisements – to provide the breeder’s name, city, state and USDA license number to the customer prior to sale. Pet stores would also be required to post this information on or near the cage of animals for sale. Pet stores and USDA licensed dealers would be required to allow customers to keep an animal considered unfit for sale and reimburse veterinary fees up to the purchase price of the animal and pay for the veterinary certification. The customer must notify the seller within three days of the certification, and the customer is responsible for any costs incurred by the customer after three days.  The bill has had many positive amendments since it was introduced.  It has passed the Senate and was approved with amendments by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee on February 19.

WashingtonHouse Bill 1202 / Senate Bill 5204 would create a civil infraction for "failure to provide care" in cases where behavior does not amount to animal cruelty in the first or second degree. These bills would also remove economic distress as a defense to second degree animal cruelty. House Bill 1202 has passed the House Judiciary Committee and has been re-referred to the House Rules Committee. Senate Bill 5204 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Law and Justice; however, a hearing has not been scheduled.

Washington – A public hearing has been held on HB 2117, which would amend the state's dangerous dog law and prohibit local governments from banning possession of a particular breed or declaring a specific breed of dog to be dangerous or potentially dangerous. AKC GR strongly supports this bill, which is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Read more about this bill and how to contact the committee.

West VirginiaHouse Bill 2794 would prohibit insurance companies from denying or terminating a policy based solely on the fact that the applicant has a certain breed of dog. The AKC supports this bill, which had a public hearing in the House Banking and Insurance Committee on February 19.