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

Ten state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session and two states are in special session. More than 1,500 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:

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1520 would allow the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem for a pet that is the subject of a pet trust in certain circumstances. It has passed the Assembly and the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC GR sent a letter of opposition to this measure.

Assembly Bill 1809 would require Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for dogs entering the state for sale or transfer. The person who brings the dog into the state would be required to submit the CVI to the local county health department. The original bill would have impacted all animals coming into California, even those traveling as family pets or for participation in a show or event. AKC GR worked with the bill’s author and sponsor to amend the language in a positive manner so that dogs not intended for resale and certain other dogs are exempted. The bill has passed the Assembly and will be heard in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on June 23rd.

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. AKC GR sent letters of support for this measure which has now passed both houses and has been sent to Governor Brown for signature.

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 and will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on June 25th.

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 passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor on June 3.

Illinois — At the request of the governor, House Bill 4056 was rewritten to essentially ban the sale of puppies at pet stores unless they were sourced from a shelter or rescue. It would also strike the pet store consumer protection language supported by the AKC and others that passed last year. After discussions with many stakeholders, including the AKC’s state federation, the bill was further amended to allow pet stores to sell dogs or cats that are sourced from USDA-licensed breeders who have not received any direct violations in the past two years. The bill is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee, and it is believed that it will not advance this year. AKC and its state federation continue to closely monitor this bill. 

IowaSenate File 2361 (formerly SF 2166 and SF 2254) would have created 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 included 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 have been 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 have been prohibited from being involved in certain rescue activities. A "special" license would have been provided to "small breeders, competitive show breeders, or specialized breeders", but none of these terms were defined and these licensees would have been subject to numerous regulations. AKC issued legislative alerts and letters to the Senate, and worked closely with breeders, fanciers, and AKC club members in opposition to this bill. Read more about this victory for Iowa dog breeders.

KansasHouse Bill 2682 and Senate Bill 392 would have expanded the state’s Pet Animal Act. Rescue networks would have been 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 required a $10 fee per foster home, and a $125 annual license fee. The bills also would have expanded 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 have included 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 were held in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. The Kansas Legislature is not expected to further consider these bills this year.

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 remains 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.

MichiganHouse Bill 5095/ Senate 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 House Regulatory Reform Committee passed HB 5095 and it is pending action by the full House of Representatives. The Senate Agriculture Committee has heard testimony on SB 560, but no vote has been taken. The legislature is in recess until July 16. 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.

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 YorkAssembly Bill 3371 would require all breeders to be licensed and inspected if they breed three or more animals a year “for profit”. Breeders would also be required to comply with basic standards of care. AKC GR sent a message opposing the definition of “breeder”, explaining that this would require people to open up their private homes for unannounced inspections. The bill was held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee. AKC continues to closely monitor this legislation.

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 6368 would prevent any person from participating in a “circus” if they have had a USDA violation within the past two years. A person would also be prohibited from participating if they are currently accused of cruelty, even if no verdict has yet been reached. The definition of “circus” includes any event where an animal is trained to “perform some behavior or action”, unless the organization hosting the event is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. This would potentially define numerous AKC and AKC club events in New York State as “circuses” and could subject them to further regulation. The AKC has sent a letter of opposition to the Assembly Economic Development Committee. This bill was scheduled for a committee hearing on May 28, but no action was taken. Its companion bill, S 7336, has been held in the Senate Consumer Protection Committee.

New YorkAssembly Bill 6949 states that no one should be denied occupancy, evicted, or be discriminated against in a housing lease based solely on the breed of dog owned by the tenant or potential tenant. Landlord may impose “reasonable restrictions” on the ownership of dogs, regardless of breed, that have been declared dangerous as defined in state law. This bill passed the Assembly Housing Committee on May 28 and is pending on the Assembly floor.

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. A similar bill, Assembly Bill 972, would apply these requirements to all “pet dealers” (defined in current law as those who sell 9 or more dogs/year. Breeders who raise fewer than 25 dogs/year on their residential premises are exempt.). A972 was held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

New York Senate Bill 6643 would reorganize the state’s animal cruelty statute and increase the penalties for certain offenses. Changes include moving crimes against animals from the Agriculture & Markets Code to a new section in the Penal Code. Licensing, laws regarding seizure of animals during a cruelty case, and other laws regarding animals would remain in the Agriculture & Markets Code. The bill also creates the new crime of “animal abduction” and establishes penalties. S. 6643 was scheduled for a vote by the Senate, but was recommitted to the Senate Rules Committee on June 20. AKC GR is closely monitoring this bill.

New York Senate Bill 1495 would criminalize stealing a pet from someone’s property. While it does not address pets stolen when off the owner’s property, the AKC believes this is an excellent step that will provide law enforcement with an important tool to penalize those who steal pets from a person’s home or property. The bill has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Codes Committee.

New York Senate Bill 7684 / Assembly Bill 8185 would increase the penalty when someone deliberately removes the collar or any form of identification from a companion animal without the owner’s permission. The bills also would increase the penalty when someone entices or seizes a dog when it is properly identified, or transports a companion animal for the purpose of killing or selling it without the owner’s express permission. The AKC is supporting these bills, which have passed their respective chambers, but have not yet been officially enrolled or transferred to the Governor.

New York Senate Bill 7846 and Assembly Bill 4735 would require any place where the public may pet, view, touch, or hold an animal to have hand washing facilities available within 50 feet of the exit of the event. This may include antiseptic wipes or antibacterial gels if running water is not available. This would likely include dog shows and other public events hosted by clubs where the public are permitted to interact with dogs. These bills have passed both chambers, but not yet been officially enrolled or transferred to the Governor. AKC continues to monitor these bills.

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.

North CarolinaSenate Bill 744, the Appropriations Act (the state budget) for 2014 was amended in the House to include several major provisions deleterious to dogs, their owners and breeders. It seeks to transfer jurisdiction of the state’s Animal Welfare Act out of the state Department of Agriculture to the Department of Public Safety. It would establish vague new dog dealer definitions that would require individuals who own more than 10 intact female dogs to be licensed and regulated by the state as commercial “dog dealers”, regardless of actual breeding or commercial activity. It also takes funds from the state’s spay/neuter program to set up a fund that would allow donations by private groups to pay for kennel inspections required by the proposed new regulations. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts on SB744. The measure now goes to conference.

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 and a final conference committee amendment is pending approval by the Senate.

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 alert opposing HB 7630 and wrote the committee urging opposition to the bill.

Rhode IslandHouse Bill 8205 seeks to limit all Rhode Island dog owners from owning or harboring any dog six months of age and older that has not been spayed or neutered. To be excepted from the mandatory spay/neuter requirement, individuals would be required to purchase an annual “intact” dog permit costing $100 per dog. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, wrote a letter in opposition to the bill, and worked with resident dog breeders and owners to oppose the bill. HB 8205 was heard by the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, May 21, which held the bill for further study. AKC GR continues to closely monitor any developments with the bill, and will continue to strongly oppose HB 8205 should it be reconsidered in the remaining weeks of the 2014 session.

Rhode IslandHouse Resolution 8376, a resolution creating a special legislative commission to “study the requirements for the spaying and neutering of dogs”, was introduced and passed by the House of Representatives in the final hours of the legislative session.  This resolution follows on the heels of House Bill 8205, which unsuccessfully sought to restrict, with limited exception, all Rhode Island dog owners from owning or harboring any dog six months of age and older that is not spayed or neutered.  Both efforts were principally sponsored by Representative Thomas Palangio. The resolution requires the special legislative commission to consist of three members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, two “members of the American Kennel Club”, one member of the Rhode Island Branch of the American Rare Breed Association, two Rhode Island animal control officers, and one member of the Providence Animal Care and Control Center, all to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; the Director of the Defenders of Animals or a designee; and the President of the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island or a designee.  The commission will meet upon the direction of the Speaker of the House and is required to report its findings to the House of Representatives by February 3, 2015. AKC GR will issue legislative alerts on the process by which members of AKC-affiliated clubs may become part of the commission and other information as it becomes available. Dog owners in Rhode Island are encouraged to prepare for the possible introduction of mandatory spay/neuter legislation in 2015.