Montana:  Hearing TOMORROW (3/23) on Breeder Licensing, Seizure of Dogs, $5000 Penalties

A problematic bill to regulate pet breeders is scheduled to be heard by the Montana House Business and Labor Committee on March 23, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. House Bill 582 seeks to require licensing, inspections, rules, fees, and penalties for certain dog and cat breeders.

A problematic bill to regulate pet breeders is scheduled to be heard by the Montana House Business and Labor Committee on March 23, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. House Bill 582 seeks to require licensing, inspections, rules, fees, and penalties for dog and cat breeders.

Concerned dog owners are urged to immediately contact committee members and express your concerns with House Bill 582.  Please scroll down for contact information.

HB 582 would define a “commercial pet breeder” as an individual, entity, or corporation engaged in the business of breeding dogs or cats and 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 this 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” pet breeder.

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

Concerns with HB 582 include:

The bill would require a “commercial pet breeder” to obtain a “business license”.  In many locations, a home-based hobby breeder who was defined under HB 582 as a “commercial” pet breeder or “business” would be out of compliance with their zoning codes. 

Inspections would be conducted by “authorized inspectors” designated by the board. The bill indicates that licensed and retired veterinarians may be designated as inspectors; however, it also provides that “other individuals” may be empowered to conduct inspections, re-inspections, and determine violations. There is no requirement in the bill that “other individuals” must be state employees or law enforcement personnel. 

The “board” would be permitted to accept gifts and donations that would be deposited into a special state revenue fund to offset costs of licensing and inspection. HB 582 does not address whether the individuals and representatives of organizations that submit these donations and gifts may be appointed as “authorized inspectors” and serve on the board’s “advisory council” that makes recommendations regarding rules, administration and enforcement. 

Seizure of dogs would be authorized for failure to obtain a business license or for a violation of a rule.

The board would be empowered to assess a civil penalty of $5000 and $100 per animal for each violation.  Failure to pay the assessed penalties would result in a lien against any property on which a person keeps or houses dogs or cats.

What You Can Do:

Immediately contact members of the House Business and Labor Committee to express your concerns and express your concerns with House Bill 582.  You can send a message to every member of the House Business and Labor Committee is via an online messaging form.  Click here and: 

  • 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 582 in the “Enter the Number of the Bill” box
  • Next to “Vote”, click on “Against”.

You can also type in a personalized message to the committee members.

Capitol Phone Number: (406) 444-4800.  You can leave messages for up to five individual legislators or one legislative committee per call.  The Montana House of Representatives fax number is (406) 444-4825.  

You may also wish to attend the committee hearing on March 23 at 8:00 a.m., Room 172, State Capitol, 1301 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601. HB 582 is the first item on the agenda. Call (406) 444-4800 for information about how to sign up to speak at the hearing. 

House Business and Labor Committee Contact Information:

Rep. MARK NOLAND, Chair
Rep. AMANDA CURTIS, Vice Chair
Rep. VINCE RICCI, Vice Chair
Rep. WILLIS CURDY
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

 

For questions or more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or call (919) 816-3645.

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