New Hampshire: HB 624 Could Deprive Dog Owners of their Property Rights

On Friday, February 13, the New Hampshire House Environment and Agriculture Committee will consider...

On Friday, February 13, the New Hampshire House Environment and Agriculture Committee will consider House Bill 624, a bill regarding animal care costs in cruelty cases. As introduced, the bill could force individuals charged—but not convicted—of animal cruelty to forfeit ownership of their pets, even after they are later found not guilty of those charges. Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS), AKC’s New Hampshire federation, oppose HB 624 as written. AKC encourages all concerned New Hampshire residents to contact the members of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee and respectfully request that HB 626, as introduced, be voted “Inexpedient to Legislate.”

SYNOPSIS OF HB 624: If enacted, HB 624 would establish a pre-trial process whereby a civil court may order a defendant-owner of confiscated animal(s) to post a bond to cover the cost of caring for the animal(s). The bond will automatically renew every 30 days until the criminal proceedings are over, including any appeal period. If at any time the owner is unable to pay the bond, their ownership in the animal(s) will be forfeited, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the case.

AKC’S POSITION ON HB 624:The AKC strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs and believes that no dog should be kept in circumstances where its needs cannot be adequately fulfilled. We also 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 HB 624, could prove an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a verdict of innocence was reached or charges were dropped, a defendant unable to pay would be permanently deprived of their property, with no recourse. Furthermore, a 2009 federal district court ruling declared a similar bond requirement unconstitutional. The AKC believes that HB 624 must not move forward as introduced.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: AKC urges concerned individuals to contact the members of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee and to respectfully request that HB 624 be voted, “Inexpedient to Legislate.”

You may send one email to all committee members via this address: HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. In the alternative, you may contact the committee members individually, as follows:

Representative Robert Haefner, Chairman
1 St. John Street
Hudson, NH 03051-3733
bob.haefner@leg.state.nh.us

Representative John O’Connor, Vice Chairman
13 Arrowhead Road
Derry, NH 03038-3715
(603)434-8393
john.o’connor@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Michele Peckham, Clerk
82 Atlantic Avenue
North Hampton, NH 03862-2306
(603)997-1120
michele.peckham@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Warren Groen
17 Alice Lane
Rochester, NH 03867-8502
(603)817-9353
warren.groen@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Richard Gordon
4 Burnt Swamp Road
East Kingston, NH 03827-2102
(603)642-7252
dick.gordon@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Lisa Scontsas
24 Courtland Street
Nashua, NH 03064-2133
(603)883-6869
lscontsas@gmail.com

Representative Michael Brewster
P.O. Box 94
Barnstead, NH 03218-0094
(603)491-5927

Representative Ernest Bridge
392 Lear Hill Road
Unity, NH 03773-7721
(603)863-7203
YankeeErnie@gmail.com

Representative Carol Bush
40 Hannah Lane
Newington, NH 03801-2740
(603)436-3980
carol.bush@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Stephen Darrow
463 Slab City Road
Grafton, NH 03240-3831
(603)523-4678
stephen.darrow@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Raymond Howard, Jr.
322 Stockbridge Corner Road
Alton, NH 03809
(603)875-4115
brhowardjr@yahoo.com

Representative Dennis Sweeney
73 Black Snake Rd.
Seabrook, NH 03874-4300
(603)343-3067
dennissweeney6r@gmail.com

Representative Tara Sad
82 North Road
Walpole, NH 03608-4705
(603)756-4861
tara.eric@gmail.com

Representative Christy Bartlett
77 Sanborn Road
Concord, NH 03301-1819
(603)224-3172
christydbartlett@gmail.com

Representative Peter Bixby
69 Glenwood Avenue
Dover, NH 03820-2305
(603)749-5659
Peter.Bixby@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Rebecca Brown
80 Post Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586-4320
(603)823-8119
Rebecca.Brown@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Janice Gardner
165 Dover Point Road
Dover, NH 03820-4611
(603)742-0205
janice.gardner@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Alan Turcotte
3 High Ridge Trail
Allenstown, NH 03275-2128
(603)485-2349
alanturcotte4rep@gmail.com

Representative David Doherty
242 Fourth Range Road
Pembroke, NH 03275-2914
(603)485-2788
David.Doherty@leg.state.nh.us

Representative George Saunderson
615 Lovejoy Road
Loudon, NH 03307-1109
(603)783-4750
George.Saunderson@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Alexis Simpson
20 Main St. #2400
Exeter, NH 03833-2438

For more information, contact the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS) at dogs.nh@gmail.com; or AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or via email at doglaw@akc.org.