Federal, State, & Local Legislation

 

Federal Legislation

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to protecting the rights of dog owners throughout the United States. The AKC maintains a visible presence in our nation's capital and continues to serve as a leader in promoting responsible dog care and ensuring that federal laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory.

October 2014 (for previous higlights, click here)

The AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2014 Legislation Tracking page and click on "US Fed" on the map to get the latest updates on federal bills currently being monitored by the AKC. Highlights of issues we are currently addressing on the federal level include:

  • Federal/Regulation: The "Farm Bill" (HR. 2642) and Farm Bill Conference Report passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year provide two changes negotiated by AKC to reduce the number of small hobby breeders subject to federal regulation as pet dealers under the US Animal Welfare Act as amended by the 2013 Retail Pet Store Rule. It directs USDA APHIS to prepare specific new rules that exempt small breeders who maintain more than four "breeding females" but do not transfer more than a "de minimis" (minimal) number of pets sight unseen. The conference report further directs APHIS to clarify the term "breeding female" to mean only those female animals capable of reproduction and actively being used in a breeding program should qualify as breeding females. By including only those animals currently part of an active breeder program, breeders will be able to maintain retired intact females or grow out young females without fear of triggering federal licensing requirements. AKC GR is actively monitoring USDA APHIS action on this front.
  • Federal/Congress: H.R. 5449 (the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014) authorizes federal support for passenger rail programs. Introduced in September, H.R. 5449 includes language that would create a pilot program that allows, where feasible, ticketed passengers on certain routes to transport pets as carry-on baggage or as cargo in accordance with Amtrak cargo stowage requirements. AKC has discussed its support of this program with key bill sponsors. The House Transportation and Infrastructure committee approved the measure September 17.
  • Federal/Congress: H.R. 2066 / S.1710 ("Pets on Trains Act of 2013"), supported by AKC GR, would require Amtrak, when feasible, to designate at least one car where passengers may transport a dog or cat if the pet is in a kennel that can be stowed according to Amtrak's requirements for carry-on baggage. Passengers could transport dogs or cats as cargo if the pets are in a kennel, the cargo area is temperature controlled, and the passenger is travelling less than 750 miles. Passengers would be required to pay a fee to transport their pets on trains. H.R. 2066 is pending in the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, & Hazardous Materials. S.1710 is pending in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

State Legislation

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to protecting the rights of all dog owners, promoting responsible dog ownership and ensuring that state laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory. AKC monitors state legislation that affects dogs and dog ownership in cooperation with AKC clubs and state federations.

Here are some highlights of state measures AKC GR is currently monitoring. For a more complete listing of all the bills AKC GR is tracking, visit AKC's Legislative Tracking page, which is updated each weekday.

October 2014 (for previous higlights, click here)

  • Massachusetts: The "Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety" bill was signed into law by Governor Patrick. The bill increases fines and maximum incarceration sentences for cruelty offenders, requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse, and creates a new task force to review methods to prevent animal abuse.
  • Michigan: House 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 House has placed House Bill 5095 on the calendar for a vote, which could occur at any time. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, and continues to work with the Michigan Association of Pure Bred Dogs to address concerns with this measure.
  • Michigan: House Bill 5721 would expand the laws regarding dangerous dogs, create a new designation of "potentially dangerous" dogs and significantly increase penalties for owners who own a dog declared "dangerous" or "potentially dangerous" and do not comply with all requirements set out in the bill. The AKC has some concerns with the bill, including requiring a dog declared "potentially dangerous" to be sterilized, even though the designation may be removed if the owner can demonstrate that the dog no longer poses a risk to public safety. The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Criminal Justice. No hearing has been scheduled.
  • New Jersey: Assembly Bill 2961/Senate Bill 1341 supports legislation enacted in 2009 by establishing a penalty for failure to include a bittering agent in antifreeze. SB 1341 has already unanimously passed the Senate, while AB 2961 is under first committee consideration. The AKC supports both AB 2961 and SB 1341 as currently written, and has sent a letter of support and issued a legislative alert. Both bills have passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
  • New Jersey: AB 3306 and SB 1870 seek to impose additional requirements on pet shops and pet dealers, including providing consumers with specific breeder information; posting information on enclosures and in internet/print advertisements; prohibiting pet shops from selling, offering for sale, or purchasing for resale, any animal purchased from any breeder/broker who fail to meet certain standards; mandating that pet shops submit annual reports to the state; and allowing localities to impose more significant restrictions. Failure to comply with the requirements and prohibitions established under the bills would result in a $500 penalty. AKC GR is working with concerned fanciers and groups to respond to the proposals. Both bills have passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
  • New Jersey: Assembly Bill 3381, as introduced, expands the animal cruelty statute to include theft or release of animals during burglary. The AKC supports AB 3381 as currently written, and has sent a letter of support and issued a legislative alert. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
  • New Jersey: Assembly Bill 991 seeks to establish a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for harming or threatening to harm animals owned or used by a law enforcement agency or a search and rescue dog. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
  • New Jersey: Assembly Bill 2389 attempts to bar employment at animal-related enterprises, or ownership of animals, for at least two years, of those convicted of or found civilly-liable for any animal crime; permits courts to order forfeiture of animals of those found guilty/civilly-liable for violating animal statutes; provides for new animal control officer rules and regulations; and creates a statewide animal cruelty registry. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
  • New York : A 4735/S 7846** require a designated area for hand washing/sanitizing at any place where animals are "kept for the express purpose of viewing, touching, holding, and petting by patrons and visitors". This area, which must be no more than 50 feet from the exit of the event, must be clearly designated as a hand washing facility. This could be a sink with soap and running water, or if not available, anti-bacterial gels and antiseptic wipes are acceptable. A sign must be posted by the exit that states, "Animals may carry germs and bacteria that cause disease. It is strongly recommended that persons wash their hands upon exiting." This is a positive measure that will protect public health, and also the health of animals owned by visitors, patrons, and exhibitors. It has been signed by the governor and goes into effect in March 2015.
  • Pennsylvania: Senate 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 in the House. Read more about this legislation.
  • Pennsylvania: Senate 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.

Local Legislation

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to protecting the rights of all dog owners, promoting responsible dog care and ensuring that laws governing dog ownership and breeding in local communities are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory. AKC works in cooperation with members of local AKC clubs and state federations to assist on issues that impact dog ownership in local communities. Examples of common local issues include pet limits, mandatory spay/neuter proposals, breeder licensing/regulations, leash and confinement laws, dangerous dog laws and zoning laws.

AKC GR relies on local residents to advise us when laws that impact dog owners are proposed on the county and city level. Contact doglaw@akc.org to let us know when dog-related issues are discussed or new measures are proposed in your community.

October 2014 (for previous higlights, click here)

  • CA, Pasadena: The Pasadena City Council voted 5-3 to approve the first reading of an ordinance which will institute breeder restrictions and mandatory spay/neuter. This issue began as a proposed breed ban, then breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter and emerged in final form as a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance affecting all dogs. AKC GR has issued several alerts, written letters to the Pasadena City Council and staff, participated in conference calls with elected leaders and local fanciers, and is monitoring the agenda for a second reading.
  • CO, Aurora: The City of Aurora has put its long-standing breed ban on the ballot for the November 4 elections. Residents will have the opportunity to decide whether to repeal the ban that has resulted in the impoundment and euthanization of many dogs because they are deemed to be a "pit" bull". AKC and its Colorado federation are urging residents to vote "yes" on Question 2D. Read more about the ballot measure.
  • 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 has directed the animal control director to meet with interested stakeholders, including breeders, to discuss possible modifications. Local fanciers are working with staff to finalize revisions for commission approval.
  • GA, Augusta/Richmond County: The Augusta/Richmond Commission returned to committee with a request for changes to a proposed ordinance that would require dogs six months and older to be surgically sterilized unless the owner obtains an unaltered animal permit. "Registered" service dogs, "actively competitive" show or hunting dogs, and dogs with serious health conditions would be exempt. Additional problematic provisions would empower animal services personnel to seize and destroy an animal believed to be "diseased" or "crippled" with no notification to the owner, require enclosures of 100 square feet per dog, and require owners to provide veterinary care for every minor injury or illness. As originally written, the proposal would require a greater level of health care for animals than is required for children.
  • IN, Tippecanoe County: The Tippecanoe County Commission has proposed a rewrite of the county's animal control code. Among new provisions is a mandatory spay/neuter requirement for all dogs at least 6 months of age, unless the owner purchases a breeder permit. The permit must be renewed annually and allows for one litter to be bred per year. On October 20, the commission agreed to temporarily table the ordinance and appoint a task force. AKC continues to work with local kennel clubs and its Indiana federation in opposition to the mandatory spay/neuter portion of the proposal.
  • NV, Washoe County: The Washoe County Board of Commissioners has held multiple public hearings regarding changes to the county's animal control code. A revised draft is expected to come before the commission after January 1, 2015. Proposed changes include breeder licensing, dangerous dog updates, changing nuisance regulations and possible regulation of retail sales. Some of the changes will bring the county into compliance with new state laws but in some cases definitions are changed or expanded. AKC GR continues to closely monitor these hearings, and has issued a legislative alert to local clubs and parent clubs.
  • NY: Numerous counties are seeking to regulate "pet dealers" after a measure was signed by the governor in 2013 that allows local governments to create their own regulations. A "pet dealer" is defined in New York as a person who sells more than 9 dogs in a year, unless those dogs are bred and raised on someone's residential premises. If the dogs are raised on a person's premises, then they are a pet dealer when they sell 25 or more dogs/year. AKC GR worked closely with local clubs and the Suffolk County Legislature in April 2014 to significantly amend their proposal in an effort to protect the rights of breeders and fanciers as much as possible. This version has been used as the basis for proposals in Nassau, Westchester, and most recently Rockland Counties. AKC GR has been closely monitoring this trend, notifying local kennel clubs when a proposal arises, and working with local clubs and fanciers to provide talking points for those interested in attending county meetings. AKC GR has also sent letters to county legislatures where proposals are introduced with suggested amendments to further improve the proposals and protect the rights of responsible breeders and hobbyists.
  • NY, New York City: The New York City Council Committee on Health is considering four measures that would redefine "pet store" to mean anyone who sells even one dog to the general public for a profit. Introduction 136 would further require anyone who meets this definition to have animals sterilized prior to transfer to the new owner. Dogs and cats must be 8 weeks old prior to sterilization. Exemptions from sterilization would require a letter from a veterinarian stating the animal cannot be sterilized at that time. This letter only applies for 4 months. Introduction 55 would also create many new requirements for "pet shops", including prohibiting them from obtaining dogs from anyone who has an ownership interest in one female and sells or offers to sell 50 dogs per year, or from anyone who has an ownership interest in 20 female dogs. The measure would also establish many other requirements, including regular site visits from a veterinarian. The AKC opposes this new definition of pet store that is contained in all four measures, and further opposes the mandatory sterilization of dogs being sold in the city. The committee has tabled these measures, but they could come back later in the year. Read more about these measures and what you can do to oppose them.
  • NY, Westchester County: The Westchester County Legislature is seeking to regulate pet dealers in response to the state legislation passed in 2013 allowing local governments to establish their own laws on pet dealers, so long as they were not less strict than state statutes. Currently, the legislature is discussing a model ordinance put forward by ASPCA that would require local licensing for those who meet the definition of pet dealers (it is presumed this would be in addition to state licensing), as well as inspections. The licensing program and inspections could either be handled by the local government, or contracted out to a local organization. The model also includes requirements for specific temperature ranges for kennels and a prohibition on stacked crates of dogs older than 12 weeks of age. AKC GR is closely monitoring this legislation.
  • OH, Cincinnati: A proposal has been introduced by the Cincinnati City Council that would reinstate breed-specific restrictions and requirements. The city had breed-specific policies for many years, but repealed them in 2012. In addition, the proposal would require that all dogs, regardless of breed, be kept on a chain link leash anytime the dog is off the owner's property --- including when a dog is training or participating in shows or other competitive events. No dog leashes longer than 6 feet in length would be permitted. AKC GR continues to closely monitor this proposal and work with the Ohio federation to address concerns.
  • TN, Chattanooga: The Chattanooga Animal Control Board has proposed a restrictive animal ordinance that would redefine "kennel" under city code and require difficult-to-obtain $300 annual "kennel" and "dealer" permits. Permit holders would be required to allow unlimited inspections of private homes where animals are allowed access and of computers where animal records are kept. Home-based hobby breeders would not be allowed to offer for sale the offspring of more than two litters of puppies or kittens per year. Any person who sells, exchanges, or gives away a cat or dog would be required to provide documentation that the animal had received a specific list of vaccinations. No exceptions would be provided for a pet owner advised by a veterinarian to provide an alternate vaccination protocol. The proposal could be considered at any city council meeting. Click here to view upcoming meeting agendas, to check for revisions, and to view city council meeting information as it is posted.
  • WI, Madison: Four proposals have been introduced by the Madison City Council to address at-large and dangerous dogs. Among the proposals are regulations for "home-based" breeders and the possibility for mandatory sterilization of any dog without exception that has caused injury (including a bite of any severity), even on the owner's property. "Home-based" breeders could not breed more than one litter per year unless they are "AKC sanctioned" and have participated in an AKC conformation show within the past year. The AKC is working with its Wisconsin federation to address concerns with these proposals. Read AKC's Legislative Alert for more information on the proposals and how you can help.