NH Bill Would Expand Statewide Commercial Kennel Definition, Impose Bond for Care Requirements

The New Hampshire Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 569 on February 6, which seeks to significantly expand the state’s definition of ‘commercial kennel’ and impose bond for care requirements for those charged with cruelty.  The American Kennel Club and the Dog Owners of the Granite State, our New Hampshire federation, are both deeply concerned with several provisions of SB 569.  The AKC encourages all New Hampshire dog owners to contact the members of the committee and encourage them to oppose SB 569 as currently written. 

If enacted as currently written, the extensive provisions of SB 569 would:

  • Define “breeding female” as an unspayed female dog kept or maintained for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog’s offspring. The AKC is concerned that this definition is vague, as it does not provide an age qualification for what could be considered a “breeding female”.  As currently worded, a puppy not yet of breeding capability could be considered a “breeding female”.  The AKC recommends a more appropriate definition that provides more accurate specificity as to which female dogs would qualify as a breeding female. 
  • Amend the definition of “commercial kennel” as a person that keeps, maintains, or owns five or more breeding female dogs or transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-months period. This would also include any person on the same property if together the total number of breeding female dogs is five or more. As stated before, a puppy not yet of breeding capability could be considered a “breeding female”.  In such cases, a person who keeps one breedable female that produces a litter with four female puppies would be considered a commercial kennel.  To ensure that the regulated class is reasonable in scope, the AKC also recommends the definition of commercial kennel be amended to be based on reasonable and clearly quantifiable commercial activity rather than on personal property owned.  Such an approach would truly represent a commercial operation. 
  • Require the Department to submit background checks of a “pet vendor” license applicant to the FBI as well as conduct inspections of facilities and determine proper compliance with state law prior to licensure.
  • Permit any person to submit a written complaint to the Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food that a pet vendor licensee is violating care and conditions requirements. Such complaints would trigger further inspection of facilities.  The bill, however, fails to provide for redress of instances when written complaints were submitted to harass compliant licensees.  
  • Require licensees to submit to inspections biennially and upon the receipt of a complaint.
  • Permit confiscation of a person’s animals if they are charged with cruelty to animals (not convicted) and they fail to post an animal care bond for care requirements for those charged with cruelty to animals. Upon such confiscation, a court may dispose of said animals in any manner it decides.  Bonds may be set as high as $2,000 for each animal in custody.  We strongly believe that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated. However, for defendants already incurring high costs to defend themselves in a criminal proceeding, the additional cost of daily boarding and care fees as required by SB 569 could prove an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a person is found not guilty or where charges were dropped, a defendant unable to afford the fees would be permanently deprived of their property, with no recourse, regardless of never having been proven to have committed a crime. 

These bullet points provide a summary of major concerns to dog owners in SB 569.  Other aspects of the bill may be of concern to you.  The AKC encourages all dog owners in New Hampshire to read SB 569 in its entirety

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
New Hampshire residents are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and urge them to oppose SB 569 until the issues cited above are addressed. 

State Senator Kevin Avard, Chairman
Phone: 603-271-4151
Email: Kevin.Avard@leg.state.nh.us

State Senator Jeb Bradley, Vice Chairman
Phone: 603-271-2609
Email: Jeb.Bradley@leg.state.nh.us

State Senator Daniel Innis
Phone: 603-271-3077
Email: dan.innis@leg.state.nh.us

State Senator Martha Fuller Clark
Phone: 603-271-3092
Email: Martha.FullerClark@leg.state.nh.us

State Senator Dan Feltes
Phone: 603-271-3067
Email: Dan.Feltes@leg.state.nh.us

Concerned New Hampshire residents are also strongly encouraged to attend the February 6th meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to express their concerns.  The committee meeting will start at 915AM on Tuesday, February 6, in Room 103 of the State House, 107 North Main Street, Concord, NH 03303. 

AKC will provide additional information as developments warrant.  For more information, Contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3503, or email doglaw@akc.org