AKC Taking Command - a publication of the AKC Government Relations Department
March 2014
Local Issues: City, County, and Metropolitan

The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) is pleased to assist dog owners with canine legislation issues in their local communities, but we can't help unless we are aware of the proposal. Please contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org when new laws are discussed or introduced in your city or county. We will provide you with resources and tools to help defend the rights of dog owners and support responsible dog ownership in your community.

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

CA, Pasadena — 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.

FL, Lee County — The Lee County Board of Commissioners enacted significant changes 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.

GA, Albany — On February 25, 2014, the Albany city commission tabled a proposed ordinance that would have required registration of “pit bull” dogs, established stringent enclosure requirements, and required owners to maintain $100,000 liability insurance or a $15,000 surety bond. The proposal defined “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.

TX, Houston — The Houston City Council enacted extensive changes to the city’s animal ordinances at its meeting on March 26, 2014. An initial proposal could have effectively ended hobby breeding in Houston. A revised proposal, developed in conjunction with the Houston Kennel Club and other hobbyists, would permit hobby breeding to continue as long as an individual obtains a hobby breeder permit. However, AKC GR remains concerned about several aspects of the new ordinance. First, the AKC believes that mandating the sterilization of all animals on first impound (with a few exceptions) is unreasonable. AKC is also concerned that all ownership rights in an impounded dog would be automatically and completely divested after a short impoundment period. Owners attempting to redeem their animals after that time would have no preferred right to possession, or any specific procedural rights to help them regain possession. Additionally, during the March 26 meeting an unexpected amendment was included that limits ownership of animals in Houston to three dogs and three cats. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and contacted the City Council to urge the development of other solutions. AKC GR will continue to work with Houston area clubs, fanciers, and enthusiasts to address the controversial aspects of the new Houston law.

WA, Yakima — 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.

WI, Madison — 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 was tabled on March 18 but may be brought up at a future meeting.