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

Twenty-three state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session and two states are in special session. More than 1,400 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 have defined a “commercial dog breeder” as one who sells at least 20 dogs in a calendar year. It would also have required all who meet this definition to comply with the same requirements as pet stores, including 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 could sell a dog younger than eight weeks of age. The bill passed the House but was held in the Senate Government & Environment Committee.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1809 is currently a spot bill with non-substantive language. AKC GR believes that this bill will be amended to require Certificates of Veterinary Inspection for dogs entering the state. AKC is monitoring this legislation and working with staff to address concerns of those traveling to dog shows and events as well as visitors traveling with owned family pets.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1810 would allow a veterinarian, cat or dog kennel, pet grooming parlor, animal hospital or animal care facility to turn over an abandoned animal to a public animal control agency, animal shelter or humane society if the group agrees to accept the animal. Current law requires that abandoned animals held by these facilities be humanely destroyed. The bill passed in the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1965 would authorize retail food establishments to permit dogs in outdoor eating areas. It would also allow local governments to prohibit the practice. The measure passed the Assembly Health Committee and has been referred to the Committee on Local Government.

California Assembly Bill 2343 would establish a $10 million block grant program for local animal control agencies and allow local governments in certain circumstances to reduce the holding periods for unidentified stray cats and dogs. The measure would also require animals be checked for microchips during the holding period and before release, and provides more leeway in working with rescue and adoption organizations. It has been referred to the Assembly Local Government Committee.

ConnecticutSenate Bill 445 was developed pursuant to a 2013 task force investigating the sale of cats and dogs from “inhumane origins” at Connecticut pet shops. As amended by the Joint Committee on Environment, the measure establishes standards of care for dogs owned by individuals who maintain more than 10 dogs capable of breeding that are consistent with the standards required of animal importers. It requires pet sellers to post the USDA inspection reports of breeders from whom they source puppies, and bans the sale of pets from breeders with certain USDA regulatory violations. The measure further clarifies that the reimbursement under the state’s puppy lemon law is limited to the purchase price of the dog or cat, provided that the pet is diagnosed with a congenital disorder within 6 months of purchase. The measure is awaiting a vote by the Senate.

FloridaHouse Bill 1305/Senate Bill 1574 are companion bills that would define “commercial breeders” as persons who own intact females and sell 16 or more animals in a twelve month period. It also defines “dealers” as anyone who sells dogs and cats and is currently regulated by USDA/APHIS. The measure would require these persons to be registered with the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, in compliance with USDA/APHIS standards of care, and to be inspected annually. HB 1305 has been referred to the Business and Professional Relations Subcommittee, the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the Regulatory Affairs Committee but no hearing has been scheduled. SB 1574 has not yet received committee assignments.

FloridaSenate Bill 1624 would require those who are selling animals bred by the holder of a Class A or Class B license issued by USDA to continuously display the breeder’s name, USDA license number, and city and state of residence. It would further prohibit the sales of animals at flea markets, although county or city operated animal agencies and registered non-profit humane societies are exempt from this prohibition.

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.

Senate File 2361 (formerly SF 2166 and SF 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 2015 the primary enclosures would have to be two times that required by USDA. In addition, breeders would be prohibited from being involved in certain rescue activities. A “special” license would be given to “small breeders, competitive show breeders, or specialized breeders”, but none of these terms are defined. Those with this license could not produce more than three litters or 30 puppies (whichever is greater) during the license period. The bill passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is pending on the Senate floor. AKC has asked Iowa clubs and breeders to continue asking the Senate to oppose the bill in any form. It is expected that the legislature will adjourn this week. Read more about this bill.

KansasHouse Bill 2682 and Senate Bill 392 would 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” would include mandatory inspections. Inspections are currently conducted at the discretion of the state Department of Agriculture. The frequency of the inspections would be based on performance and the perceived risk of the kennel or rescue being inspected. Both bills are pending in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

Maryland HB 73 and SB 247 repeal the Tracey v. Solesky Court of Appeals ruling that declared all “pit bulls” as inherently dangerous. The AKC supported the repeal of this discriminatory court ruling. The measures also establish that the owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property caused while their dog is running at large unless the loss was caused by someone committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense or if the dog was being teased, tormented, abused or provoked. The bills were signed by the governor in April and go into effect immediately. Read more about these bills.

Maryland House Bill 422 would have prohibited counties and municipalities from declaring a dog as a nuisance, potentially dangerous, dangerous, or inherently dangerous based on the dog’s breed. The bill also prohibited them from restricting the ownership of a dog based on breed. AKC GR and its Maryland federation both supported this measure, which passed the House and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, but did not receive a final vote in the Senate prior to the end of session.

Maryland Senate Bill 659, as introduced, would have allowed veterinarians to perform ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal or surgical births and require that they use anesthesia. The AKC expressed concerns that this would not be in the best interest of dogs, as tail docking is often done when puppies are too young for anesthesia. To address these concerns, the bill was amended to state that anesthesia would only be required “when appropriate.”  All these procedures must still be performed by a licensed veterinarian. The bill has been signed by the governor and goes into effect on October 1, 2014. Read more about this bill.

Maryland House Bill 667 / Senate Bill 660 ban surgical devocalization of a dog or cat unless it is medically necessary to treat an illness, injury or defect that is causing the animal harm or pain. A veterinarian will be required to provide a written certification that includes supporting diagnosis and findings as to why the procedure was necessary. The bills have been signed by the governor and go into effect on October 1, 2014. Read more about these bills.

Massachusetts — AKC GR continues to closely watch for any developments regarding HB 3762, which was substituted for HB 1874/SB 401 on November 14, 2013, and 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, the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs & Responsible Dog Owners, and other allied groups are opposing S. 767. Read more about this legislation.

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 has heard testimony on this bill, 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 / Senate Bill 865 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. AKC GR supports this bill, which passed the House General Laws Committee and is pending on the House floor. Amendments have been drafted for HB 1116 that would still allow communities to enact mandatory spay/neuter laws for specific breeds. AKC GR has sent an alert to local clubs and breeders encouraging them to ask the House to support the bill as introduced and oppose these amendments. SB 865 does not have amendments and is scheduled to be debated in the Senate. AKC GR sent an alert in support of this bill.

Nebraska LB 288, which was carried over from the 2013 legislative session, would have made 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 have changed this to require someone to meet all three of these criteria before being defined as a commercial breeder. The bill did not advance this session. AKC GR will continue to work with the Nebraska Legislature to address concerns with their breeder laws.

NebraskaLB 1002 would have made 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 had a public hearing in the Agriculture Committee on February 25 but no further action was taken this session.

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.

New York Assembly Bill 3952 would prohibit 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.

New York Assembly Bill 7064 would require any permanent structure where animals are kept to be equipped with a fire suppression system and an alarm system that directly connects to the local police and fire departments. AKC GR sent a letter of concern over the extensive unnecessary cost and burden this would place on animal owners. The bill had a public hearing in the Assembly Agriculture Committee on March 25, but was held.

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 would revise 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 would be exempt. HB 2637 passed the House and the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. It has been pending on the Senate floor since April 1.

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 considered further in the 2014 session.

Rhode Island — Like HB 7198, House Bill 7630 also seeks to roll back some of the state’s protections against local breed-specific legislation by specifically allowing the City of Warwick to enact ordinances to require the spaying/neutering of “pit bulls” and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The bill was considered on March 20, by the House Municipal Government Committee, which recommended that the bill be held for further study. The bill is not expected to be considered further during the 2014 session. AKC GR issued a legislative call to action against HB 7630 and wrote the committee urging opposition to the bill.

TennesseeHouse Bill 1260 / Senate Bill 1359 sought to enact conditions under which tethering a dog would be an animal cruelty violation. Under these bills, it would be a crime to use a tether of less than 10 feet in length or to tether a dog without access to food, a spill-proof container of water, and a shelter with bedding. As written, this bill would have effectively outlawed the use of grooming nooses and could have prohibited temporarily securing a dog by a tether in conjunction with training, hunting, and competition activities. The bills did not advance in committee. Read AKC GR’s informational alert on HB 1260

TennesseeHouse Bill 2385 / Senate Bill 2468 sought to delete a provision that terminates the Commercial Breeder Act on June 30, 2014. The bills did not advance in committee, and therefore the Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act will end on June 30. The Act, which went into effect January 1, 2010, cost taxpayers more than $1 million to regulate approximately 20 commercial breeders. Dog breeders and owners will continue to be subject to Tennessee’s animal cruelty laws which make it a crime to fail to provide food, water, care or shelter for an animal or to transport or confine an animal in a cruel manner. Read AKC GR’s informational alert on HB 2385.

TennesseeHouse Bill 2007 / Senate Bill 2162 sought to enact an animal abuser registry. These bills would establish registration, verification, and tracking requirements for any person who commits aggravated cruelty to animals, felony animal fighting, or bestiality. A first time registrant would be required pay $275 to the registering agency. HB 2007 passed the Tennessee House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, but failed in the full committee. Read AKC GR’s informational alert on HB 2007

UtahHouse Bill 97 prohibits 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 was signed by the governor and takes effect on January 1, 2015. Read more about this legislation.

Vermont — Under current Vermont law, when a person 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, the original version of 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 prevail over 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 subsequently amended by the House Judiciary Committee to address those concerns. SB 237 now features extensive yet fair changes for the procedures to be used in civil forfeiture proceeds in cases of animal cruelty. AKC GR will continue to monitor all developments regarding SB 237.

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 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