Montana: Committee Vote on Overreaching Pet Breeder Bill Scheduled for March 9

House Bill 570 seeks to establish licensing, inspections, regulations, fees, and penalties for dog and cat breeders.

An overreaching bill to regulate pet breeders is scheduled to be heard by the House Business and Labor Committee on March 9, 2017.

House Bill 570 seeks to establish licensing, inspections, regulations, fees, and penalties for dog and cat breeders.  It would define a “commercial breeder” as an individual, entity, or corporation engaged in the business of breeding dogs or cats that:

  • Owns, keeps, or harbors eight or more intact female dogs or cats 9 months of age or older for the primary purpose of breeding and selling their offspring, OR
  • Sells, exchanges, leases, transfers or offers to sell, exchange, lease or transfer 31 or more dogs or cats in a calendar year.

Please note that the inclusion of “or” in the definition is significant.  Under this definition, a person who owns eight intact dogs or cats, breeds one litter, and sells a single pet could be required to be licensed, regulated, inspected, and charged fees as a “commercial” breeder. 

Further, a person who breeds a litter and who also sells, exchanges, leases, or transfers 31 or more dogs or cats in year would be defined as a commercial breeder, regardless of how many intact dogs or cats are owned. This could impact breeders who also participate in rescue activities.

Additional provisions of concern with HB 570 include, but are not limited to:

It is unclear which department would have oversight, establish rules, and enforce this proposal. The bill caption states that commercial breeders would be licensed by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. However, other sections of the bill refer to the “department of labor and industry”.  Further, HB 570 assigns significant powers and rulemaking to a “board”; however, no “board” is defined or established in the bill.

Many home-based hobby breeders defined under HB 570 as a “commercial breeder” or “business” would be out compliance with their local zoning codes. 

Inspections would be conducted by “regional inspectors” and “other designees” who would be designated by the undefined “board”.  There is no requirement in the bill that “regional inspectors” must be state employees or law enforcement personnel. 

Seizure of dogs and cats would be authorized for violation of a rule established by the undefined “board”.

Licensees would be required to submit to inspections of any part of the premises where dogs and cats are housed. This would include private residences where dogs and cats have access.

The amount of fees and penalties would be established by the undefined “board”. Fees would be based on the volume of “breeding” (not pet sales) and on undefined “retailing activities”. 

What You Can Do:

Immediately contact members of the House Business and Labor Committee to express your concerns and ask them to not advance House Bill 570.  The best way to send a message to every member of the House Business and Labor Committee is via an online messaging form.  Click here, then: 

  • Enter your information
  • Click the button for “Committee”
  • Select House Business and Labor from the “Choose a Committee” drop-down box
  • Select HB from the “Select the Bill Type” drop-down box
  • Type 570 in the “Enter the Number of the Bill” box
  • Next to “Vote”, click on “Against”.
  • You may also type in a personalized message to the committee members.

House Business and Labor Committee Contact Information

Capitol Phone Number for All Committee Members: (406) 444-4800

Capitol Fax Number for All Committee Members: (406) 444-4825

Committee member list and links:

http://leg.mt.gov/css/Committees/Session/Membership.asp?CommitteeID=1030&HouseID=1&SessionID=111

Rep. MARK NOLAND, Chair 
Rep. AMANDA CURTIS, Vice Chair 
Rep. VINCE RICCI, Vice Chair 
Rep. WILLIS CURDY, sponsor of HB 570
Rep. FRED ANDERSON
Rep. ROSS FITZGERALD
Rep. MOFFIE FUNK 
Rep. BRUCE GRUBBS 
Rep. STEVE GUNDERSON
Rep. DENLEY LOGE 
Rep. ANDREA OLSEN 
Rep. GORDON PIERSON 
Rep. ADAM ROSENDALE 
Rep. CASEY SCHREINER 
Rep. SHARON STEWART-PEREGOY 
Rep. JEREMY TREBAS
Rep. SUE VINTON
Rep. JONATHAN WINDY BOY
Rep. DANIEL ZOLNIKOV

You may also wish to attend the committee meeting and express your concerns:

Date:  March 9, 2017
Time:  8:00 a.m. 
Location:  Room 172, State Capitol, 1301 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601

For questions or more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or (919) 816-3720.  

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